Bobby Moore

Leader of the Rhythm Aces

Saturday 18 March 2006 01:00
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Robert Moore, saxophonist, singer, bandleader and songwriter: born New Orleans 1931; married (one son); died Montgomery, Alabama 1 February 2006.

Released in 1966, "Searching for My Love", by Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces, is a classic side of Southern soul which helped put the Muscle Shoals studio in Florence, Alabama, on the map.

The single spent several weeks in the US charts and became a favourite with British lovers of soul and rhythm'n'blues, who couldn't get enough of Chico Jenkins's yearning, gritty voice and Bobby Moore's tenor saxophone counterpoints. "Try My Love Again", the equally infectious follow-up, also made the charts later that year.

Born in New Orleans in 1931, Bobby Moore joined the US Army in his late teens and took up the tenor saxophone while he was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia. In 1952, he formed the first line-up of the Rhythm Aces with members of the Fort Benning marching band and they entertained their army buddies with jazz and rhythm'n'blues covers.

When he was demobbed and moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1961, he became a bona-fide bandleader. Moore recruited his brother Larry (alto sax), Chico Jenkins (vocals, guitar), Marion Sledge (guitar), Joe Frank (bass), Clifford Laws (organ) and John Baldwin Jnr (drums), and the Rhythm Aces soon began supporting singers like Etta James, Kim Weston, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding on the chittlin' circuit. By the end of 1965, they had become a tight outfit and made the short trip from Montgomery to the Muscle Shoals studio in Florence.

There Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces cut "Searching for My Love", a song written by Moore. Leonard and Marshall Chess, the co-founders of Chess Records, heard the master, bought the rights to release it on their Checker offshoot, and commissioned more recordings, as well as sending some of their other acts (Etta James, Irma Thomas) to record down at Muscle Shoals. Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces issued an album bearing the same title, as well as four more singles recorded at the Chess studios in Chicago, although they failed to repeat their first success.

A fine tenor sax player in the tradition of King Curtis and Ben Webster, Moore kept the Rhythm Aces going with the help of his son Bobby. In 2004, Shout!, one of Cherry Red Records' many reissue labels, gathered all the tracks Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces had recorded for Checker between 1966 and 1970 on Go Ahead and Burn: soul from Muscle Shoals to Chicago.

Pierre Perrone

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