Sunday November 11, 1951
Inside Of Jazz
Open Book To Vic Moore
Fort Lauderdale – It seems that Hoagy Carmichael became a song writer because Irving Berlin played such a lousy piano one night in Palm Beach.
The story is a fragment of the memories of Victor Moore, the distinguished-appearing real estate broker and secretary of the Fort Lauderdale Hotel Association. Moore is a man with a past.
He was one of the greatest jazz drummers of the jazz age, playing with one of the greatest of all jazz bands, the Wolverines, a combination born in Cincinnati in 1923.
Woven into the story of Victor Moore and the Wolverines are the stories of Hoagy Carmichael and many of the names that jazz fans so love to roll off their tongues; Miff Mole, George Johnson, George Brunis, Bob Gillette, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Red Nichols, Frank Teschemacher and the greatest of them all, Bix Beiderbeck.
One of Moore’s prized positions is a photograph of Carmichael inscribed: “To Victor Moore, who gave me a downbeat in Florida and an upbeat in Indiana – one of the guys who helped me learn how to write Stardust.”
Moore came early to Palm Beach from Chicago in 1919 and his father went into real estate.
Having learned to play the drums on an old set of traps he had found in the basement of Chicago’s Adelphi theater, where he was an usher, he began band work at age 16, playing for lunchtime frolics in the gym of Lane high school and later at the Chicago Arena.
In Palm Beach, ha and some others formed a band and played in the back room of a drug store. Some nights he and Roy Hawk, a piano player, would climb on Hawk’s motorcycle and ride to Fort Lauderdale and play two-piece music – drums and piano – for dances upstairs over what is now the Western Union office on SW First ave. Jack Humphries, now a city commissioner, was one of the sports who used to go to those dances.
Through the good offices of Addison Mizner, the noted architect, Moore’s Palm Beach band began playing for the society crowds in the big houses in the winter of 1919.
The next summer Moore met Carmichael with George Johnson, at one of the Dixieland sessions at the Friars Inn in Chicago, and “Hoagy beat his head on the table, listening to that music.” Chicago jazz was having its ride.
In the winter of 1920, Moore and Johnson brought Carmichael to Palm Beach, hiding him in Johnson’s Pullman berth to save the train fare.
Among the notables who attended the dances in the big houses that winter was Irving Berlin. He used to sit in with the band.
“He played a sad piano,” Moore recalls. “One night Hoagy said to me, “If a guy who plays the piano as bad as he does can write those beautiful songs, I don’t know why I can’t write songs too.”
Three years later the Wolverines recorded Carmichael’s first song, Rivernoat Shuffle.
The band was organized in Cincinnati at “an awful dump” (Doyle’s Dance Hall, according to a magazine article later written by Johnson).
Moore was brought in from Chicago. Photographs of the day show him to be a dashing figure after the pattern of John Gilbert, screen idol of the day – raven hair and mustache, clean handsome features. He was 21. The others were the same age.
Johnson was the tenor saxophone, Beiderbeck the cornet, Dick Vaynow piano, Bob Gillette banjo, Min Leibrook bass, Al Gandee trombone, Jimmy Hartwell clarinet.
They recorded Jazz Me Blues and Fidgety Feet, thei first discs. Carmichael, then back at the University of Indiana, booked them there for college dances. They played around Indianapolis, winning great favor at the Casino Gardens. In a matter of months they were called to New York. It was September 1923.
They went into Cinderella Ballroom, then one of the city’s finest, at 48th and Broadway.
“We had wanted to get to New York,” remembers Moore, “to hear Miff Mole and Red Nichols and the Dorseys and all the big ones. As it turned out, we couldn’t get away to hear them, but they came to hear us. That’s how innocent we were. We didn’t know how good we were.”
Of the Victor Moore of those days, Johnson 13 years later wrote a magazine article in which he lauded Moore’s “powerful, pulsating steady rhythm that never varied an iota from perfect tempo,” adding:
“I am very sure that none of the present day drummers could have replaces Moore on a competitive basis if the Wolverines could be assembled today.”
After that year with the band in New York, Moore came back to Palm Beach at his father’s request, to sell real estate. The end of the boom sent him back to music. He played his way to Paris and back, was afterward with Ted Fiorita and Ben Pollack, among others.
As a 40-year-old draftee, he served with the Air Force in World War II and then settled in Fort Lauderdale. He rarely touches a drum anymore, but he’s still a jazz man.
Vic Moore (uploaded Jan 12, 2006)
Vic Moore was the drummer of the Wolverine Orchestra during Bix's tenure with the band. With the invaluable help of Mary Daniel, grand-niece of Vic Moore, I have gathered some information about Vic Moore. It is presented here.
Victor Moore was born July 12, 1902 in Chicago and died Aug. 19, 1976 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
The 1910 US census shows the family of George C. and Esther M. Moore living at 1429 Chase Avenue, Chicago. Illinois. George was born in Ireland, as were his father and mother. Esther was born in Indiana, but her father and mother were Irish. In 1910, George was 54 and Esther was 46. George immigrated to the United States in 1880. George and Esther had ten children: George W, 24; Marguerite M, 22; Jeanette A. 21; Ester B, 19; Kathleen C. 17; Ileen, 14; Lucy, 12; Edith, 9;Victor C., 7; Marie, 3. George C and George W, are described as real estate brokers, working on their own account. The 1920 US census shows George and Esther still living at 1429 Chase Avenue, Chicago. Most of the children are gone, except for Edythe [sic], Victor, Marie and Illeen [sic] . Illeen is listed as Illeen Redfield with two children, Patricia, 4, and John, 2. Ileen was Mary Daniel's grandmother.
Aditional information about the Moore family in the 1910s and early 1920s comes from a messages from Mary (Cahill) Daniel. Mary is the daughter of Patricia Redfield, daughter of Ileen Moore Redfield, one of Vic Moore's older sisters.
Message from Mary Daniel, Jan 10, 2006. "In the 1910 census, there is a Lucy listed. There was no Lucy! The name that should have been there was Sue. Never could figure out what happened! In the 1920 census you see the name Ileen [spelled Illeen in the census form] (my grandmother, who was divorced) and my mom and her brother, Patricia & John, who were all living with Grandma and Grandpa Moore."
Message from Mary Daniel, Jan 8, 2006. "Vic was the tenth of eleven children born to George Cuthbert (Cork, Ireland) and Esther Marie (Marlowe) (Terre Haute, IN) Moore. My grandmother, Ileen (Moore) Redfield was the seventh child. There were 3 boys and 8 girls!! All the children were born in Chicago.
Vic's father was in real estate in Chicago and Palm Beach. I think. Their main residence was at 1429 Chase Avenue. The first winter home in Palm Beach was a small cottage on Australian Ave. in 1919. From 1921-1926 their winter home was (and still is) located at 419 Sea Spray Avenue."
Some recollections from Mary Daniel
Jan 7 I have fond memories of Uncle Vic visiting us in Dixon, IL and later in Florida when he would visit "my favorite neice", my Mom, Pat Cahill. He would line up glasses of water (or whatever beverages were on the table after a good meal) and bang out a tune with knives along with whatever 78 record he had brought along for Mom and Dad to hear.
Jan 8 Hoagy Carmichael and Uncle Vic were friends and, with George Johnson, they traveled by train to stay with Vic's family and work private parties. (from "Sometimes I Wonder"). My grandmother always told us that Hoagy wrote Stardust on her parents piano. My Mom remembers sneaking up behind Hoagy with her brother, Jack, and "scaring" him. My uncle recalled that during a hurricane, Hoagy fled from his bedroom and stayed under the piano til the storm had passed. And it was also said that Oscar Hammerstein lived "across the street" from the Moore's on Sea Spray. Of course, this is all family lore handed down through the years and is a target of my research.
Apparently, the Palm Beach social circle that my grandmother and my teenaged Mom "ran in" were an extension of Vic's friendships. I have 8 x 10 pictures autographed to Mom from; Frank Prince, a vocalist with Ben Bernie's Orchestra; a musician named Manny Prager who I think played tenor sax and clarinet with the Dick McDonough Orchestra; Donald Novis, an actor who appeared in movies from 1929 to 1951 and Buddy Rogers who was married to Mary Pickford. Mom often spoke about a friendship with Gracie Barrie, a singer who married Dick Stabile and conducted his orchestra while he was in the service during WWII. She also sang for Abe Lyman and Leon Belasco. According to all that I have found on Gracie, she also sang on Broadway between 1933 and 1941. Mom had 2 pictures of Gracie..one from May of '34 and another from March of '35.
The last picture that I have is of Vic Duncan who I cannot identify. There are 2 snapshots of this Vic with Little Jackie Heller! Do you know who he is?
Now, don't think that because I am dropping these names on you that I know a lot about these people. Only what Mom had told me and what I have garnered from the internet!! Oh, and I know they spent a lot of time at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. As one story goes, Johnny Weismuller taught my Mom to dive in 1922 at the Breakers Casino Pool when she was 6 years and 2 months old.
Another story was told to me by mom's brother, born in 1917. He said that the President Warren Harding visited Palm Beach and somehow was handed my uncle to hold. Later in the day the hotel caught fire from a curling iron left unattended by Chicago Mayer William Dever's wife. I did research on this and found a line in an article about the hotel that said.."The "second" Breakers burned on March 18, 1925. The fire was said to have been started by one of those "new fangled curling irons."
Jan 9 I have uncovered a letter that was written to my grandmother in 1976. It is apparently in reply to a letter she wrote informing him that Vic was hospitalized for an unknown reason. I had copied this years ago from Grandma Ileen's original.
Jan 10 When we moved to Florida in '62 we stayed with Uncle Vic for a couple weeks until our furniture arrived. I remember he had a comedian friend who lived next door or nearby (I think) named Woody Woodbury.
I believe that I had mentioned Uncle Vic playing 78s at our home in FLA. Vic told me when I was older that they would be cutting a record in the studio and someone like Jack Teagarden would walk in, pick up a horn and start playing which would, of course, mess up the recording session, but made for a great jam session! They would cut 8 or 10 records for the men to keep and set another recording date! Mom wanted so badly to have a few of those records from Vic's collection, but his last wife, Clesta Walker Moore, sold them to heaven knows who!! My older brother Bill was into jazz and would have liked having a record or two!
Bill went to hear Louis Armstrong in Spring Valley, IL sometime back on the late 50's when we lived in Dixon. Mom gave him a picture of Uncle Vic to use to try and meet Louie. Bill took it to the guards at the side of the stage at intermission and convinced them to take it to Mr. Armstrong. Bill waited while the man walked down a hall and around a corner. Within minutes, Bill heard Louie holler, "Man, that's a picture of Mr. Vic! Who had this picture of Mr. Vic!! Show that boy in here!!" Bill was escorted into Louie's dressing room and talked with him for awhile til Louie had to go back on stage!
jan 16 Yes, that smile was Vic. I don't believe I ever knew such a mild mannered person. He was a sweetheart! (referring to wolverines photo) Vic is also the only one with his hair NOT parted down the middle! He had, as all the Moore's did, such beautiful blue eyes.
I sent an e-mail message to the registrar's office of Northwestern University asking information about a Victor Moore enrolled at the university in the late teens or early twenties. The answer?
He [Victor Moore] was enrolled only for the Summer Session of 1935 and his home address was listed as Somerset, Kentucky.
Obviously, a different Victor Moore. However, it is interesting that two sources mention Vic Moore being a student at Northwestern: both provide incorrect information!!
There is a lot more to Moore than the Wolverines.
by Albert HaimAlbert Haim The association of Vic Moore with Bix goes back to 1922. They met in the Friars Club where Bix, Moore, Don Murray, George Johnson, Jimmy Hartwell, Vault De Faut, Min Leibrook, etc. hung around night after night, absorbing the music produced by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.
The following comes from Evans and Evans.
On August 5, 1922 Bix joined the Vic Moore-Bud Hatch quartet in Delavan Lake, Wisconsin. Early in 1923, Vic Moore, George Johnson and Hoagy Carmichael went to West Palm Beach, Florida, where Vic’s parents lived. According to Evans and Evans, Bix was supposed to join them.
In late October 1923, Bix joined the band at the Stockton Club in Hamilton, Ohio. After a week at the club, the band consisted of Bix, Jimmy Hartwell, Bob Gillette, Dudley Mecum (composer of Angry, one of my favorites), George Johnson, Ole Vangsness and Bob Conzelman on drums. Except for the last two and Mecum, this is almost the Wolverine Orchestra of 1924. On New Year’s eve, 1924, a fight between two gangster’s groups erupted in the club. The band left for Chicago and early in January 1924, Conzelman and Vangsness quit the band, while Vic Moore and Dick Voynow joined it.
Other accounts differ on the composition of the band in the Stockton Club. According to George Johnson (Frontiers of Jazz, Ralph De Toledano, p. 123), in October 1923 Jimmy Hartwell got a contract with the Stockton Club for a seven-piece band. Supposedly, Jimmy Hartwell called Dick Voynow who went to Hamilton with Vangsness, Gillette, a sax player, Conzelman and Bix. After a week, the sax player was replaced by George Johnson.
According to Vic Moore (Swing Music, March 1936; I am indebted to Rich Johnson and an anonymous Bixophile for this citation), Vic Moore, George Johnson, Min Leibrook and Bix played around Chicago before 1923 in a ”vague sort of semi-pro group we called the Ten Foot Band.” In the article by Horst J.P. Bergmeier in Storyville n°145 (March 1991) cited by Jean-Pierre, the Ten Foot Band is mentioned. I have not been able to find a mention of the Ten Foot Band in Evans and Evans. The index in Sudhalter and Evans gives a reference to the Ten Foot Band in p. 96, but I could not find a mention of the band in that page or adjacent pages.
When the contract of the Wolverines at the Cinderella ballroom expired, the band went down to Florida at the urging of Moore and Johnson. According to Johnson, Moore went to work with his father’s real estate business for a few weeks and eventually opened his own office. Johnson tells us that in the next year Moore made $100,000 “and lost it one evening when the banks closed overnight with all his cash on deposit.”
The next time we hear from Vic Moore (Rust’s discography) is in October 1927 when he recorded with the original Wolverines; he recorded again with that group in May 1928.
Now we have Bergmeier’s account of Vic Moore in 1928 in Paris with a broken shoulder and settling into real estate in Fort Lauderdale. No date is given for the real estate activity.
Just a couple of additional items. As I was looking for the article by George Johnson, I came across an article in the August 1936 issue of Tempo. Three pieces of information, relevant to my present post, are given about Vic Moore. “Gillette, Johnson and Moore had attended school at Northwestern University.” “In Florida the band lost another member when Vic Moore struck it rich in real estate.” “Vic Moore is now manager of the Decca offices in Detroit.”
Which of the two Vic Moores who last made a social security claim from Fort Lauderdale is the Wolverines Vic Moore? Maybe neither. However, with the finding that Vic Moore was in Detroit MI in 1936, the younger of the two Vic Moores (the one who applied for his SS card from Michigan) is no longer to be ruled out.
I still think that the younger Moore (although I agree with Jean-Pierre that he looks older than the other guys) is a better bet than the older one. I can see a 20-yeaqr old Moore hanging around in the Friar’s Inn with some of his fellow students from Northwestern and as a 26 yea old going to Europe. It is harder to conceive of a 25 year old hanging around with teenagers in the Friar's Inn and of a 33 year old guy going over to Europe with Carhart (23), Purvis (22) and Freeman (22).
There are two questions about Florida that remain unanswered. Moore was in Chicago in 1927. When did he leave Florida? Moore was in Michigan in 1936. When did Moore leave Michigan to go to Florida?