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Jazz Remembered

 

Dudley Moore

 

Dudley Moore Trio

Photograph by ITV/REX

 

When you are 'multi-talented' there must be a number of factors that dictate which of those talents result in your being remembered. It might partly be because of choices you make, partly because of what others choose to remember and very often simply the way things pan out.

For Dudley Moore, I guess he will be primarily remembered as a comedian and an actor, rather than a musician, but it does make you wonder 'what if .......?'

 

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

 

 

That is to take nothing away from his talent as an actor or comedian. His partnership with Peter Cook is historic. With the recent record price of $450 million taken at auction for a Leonardo Da Vinci painting, below is a video of them trying not to laugh during 'The Art Gallery' sketch.

Inevitably, perhaps, we forget that Dudley Moore was also a talented musician.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dudley Moore C.B.E. was born in London in 1935 and brought up in Essex. He was short at 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m) and was born with club feet needing extensive hospital treatment and, ‘coupled with his diminutive stature, made him the butt of jokes from other children. His right foot responded well to corrective treatment and had straightened itself by the time he was six, but his left foot became permanently twisted and consequently his left leg below the knee was withered. This was something he remained very self-conscious of throughout his life’, so it is strange that in one of his most remembered sketches he plays a one-legged man audition for the part of Tarzan.

 

At eleven ‘Dud’ won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where he studied harpsichord, organ, violin, musical theory and composition. He rapidly developed into a highly talented pianist and organist and was playing the pipe organ at local church weddings by the age of 14.

From Guildhall he went on a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford where he studied music and composition, developed a love for jazz and soon became an accomplished jazz pianist and composer. He began working with such leading musicians as John Beyond The Fring castDankworth and Cleo Laine.

In 1960, he left Dankworth's band to work on Beyond the Fringe.

 

He had met Alan Bennett in the Oxford Review, the university comedy group that started in the 1950s that would become the launch pad for many of the country’s comedians and actors including Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis, Michael Palin, Katherine Parkinson and Al Murray. His music continued in his writing for the comedy review Beyond The Fringe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a video from Beyond The Fringe with Dudley Moore playing a parody of a Beethoven Sonata.

 

 

 

Dud’s partnership with Peter Cook continued but ran into trouble through Peter Cook’s drinking ‘in 2009, and it came to light that, at the time, three separate British police forces had wanted them to be prosecuted under obscenity laws for their "Derek and Clive" comedy recordings’.

 

Dudley Moore Trio

During the 1960s he formed the Dudley Moore Trio, with drummer Chris Karan and bassist Pete McGurk. McGurk sadly committed suicide in June 1968 and Peter Morgan joined the group as his replacement.

 

Here is the Trio including Pete McGurk playing Waterloo around 1965.

 

 

 

 

In this 1966 video from the Peter Cook / Dudley Moore programme No Only But Also
he plays Close Your Eyes with vocalist Marion Montgomery.

 

 

 

 

In another video from 1971, the Trio has Peter Morgan on bass playing Song For Suzy.

 

 

 

Dudley Moore said that his principal musical influences were Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner, and in one interview he recalled the day he finally mastered Garner's unique left-hand strum and was so excited that he walked around for several days with his left hand constantly playing that cadence. The Trio performed regularly on television and made a number of recordings. He composed the soundtracks for the films Bedazzled  (1967), 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968), Inadmissable Evidence (1968), Staircase (1969), The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1978) and Six Weeks (1982).

 

Cleo Laine and Dudley Moore Smilin Through

 

In 1981 Dudley Moore recorded Smilin' Through with Cleo Laine. Listen to When I Take My Sugar To Tea.

 

 

 

..... and by 1984, Dudley was the pianist for this one and a half hour concert filmed at the Hollywood Bowl of Jazz And Gershwin videod. Ray Brown was on bass and Nick Ceroli on drums.

 

 

 

 

In 1992, Dud appeared on the Noel Edmund's House Party programme where he reprised his 'Beyond The Fringe' Beethoven Sonata parody - click here, but by 1995, ‘Dudley Moore's film career was on the wane and he was having trouble remembering his lines, a problem he had never previously encountered. His difficulties were, in fact, due to the onset of the medical condition that eventually led to his death. Opting to concentrate on the piano, he enlisted pianist Rena Fruchter as an artistic partner. They performed as a duo in the US and Australia. However, his disease soon started to make itself apparent there as well, as his fingers would not always do what he wanted them to do. Further symptoms such as slurred speech and loss of balance were misinterpreted by the public and the media as a sign of drunkenness’.

 

In April 1997, Dudley Moore was admitted to a  New York hospital, where he was told that he had calcium deposits in his brain and Dudley Mooreirreversible frontal lobe damage, and in September he underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery in London and  suffered four strokes.

On 30 September 1999, Moore announced that he was suffering from the terminal degenerative brain disorder progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), (some of the early symptoms being so similar to intoxication that he had been reported as being drunk), and that the illness had been diagnosed earlier in the year.

In November 2001, Moore was appointed a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE). Despite his deteriorating condition, he attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 16 November to collect his honour in a wheelchair.

 

Dudley Moore died in New Jersey on the morning of 27 March 2002 at the age of 66, as a result of pneumonia secondary to immobility caused by the palsy. His close friend, pianist and music critic Rena Fruchter was holding his hand when he died, and she reported his final words were, "I can hear the music all around me".

 

This final video is from Not Only But Also in March 1965
with Peter Cook, the Dudley Moore Trio, T-Bone Walker and Peter Sellers playing Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

Dudley Moore

 

 

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More Jazz Remembered
Tracks Unwrapped
Jazz As Art
Name That Tune

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