Trumpeter Hears NCCU’s Clarion Call

mooreHe tried his hand at the cello. He went out for the football team in Hope Mills, N.C., but he says he was awful at both. Twenty-three-year-old Steven Moore found his “wow” with the trumpet in North Carolina Central University’s jazz studies program. Moore will graduate with the class of 2009 on December 12.

“My father played the trumpet. But it wasn’t until I heard the Miles Davis CD Kind of Blue that I knew. I played that cut over and over,” says Moore. He was like the old adage about a duck taking to water. “I got involved, playing in honors bands. I played in the first annual All-State Band Festival for Jazz.” Then a family friend suggested he meet Dr. Ira Wiggins, the director of NCCU’s Jazz Studies program.

“Steven Moore has a gift in the manner in which he composes and performs music in the jazz idiom. At his age, he is further along in his musical development than many of his peers,” says Wiggins. “His style of trumpet playing is reminiscent of Clark Terry and Freddie Hubbard and with continual study and training, Steve will become a master artist in his own right.”

In the past year, Moore performed with fellow musicians at the legendary Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island and the Detroit Jazz Fest in Michigan. He has studied with NCCU’s artist-in-residence, Branford Marsalis. “Studying with him was transforming. He took me back to the roots of music. He had me listen to tons and tons of Louis Armstrong recordings, and you can’t get any better than that,” Moore recalls.

Currently, Moore is a student teacher at Hillside High School. “There is a lot of talent at Hillside…it needs to be nurtured…for the kids to reach their potential,” he said. “They have a hunger.” Moore is trying to make up his mind about his future. He wants to go to graduate school and he wants to be a music educator.

Question Moore about jazz and he waxes almost lyrical. “Jazz is the truest form of therapy. It is a spiritual experience,” he says. “People consider baroque and classical music as serious. Why not jazz? Jazz musicians have to walk in two worlds—the sophisticated world and one foot in show biz.”

“Young musicians are the legatees of a huge tradition. The mission is to get jazz out there, pull in the masses. We have to produce the next Miles Davis, the next Picasso, or a John Coltrane,” maintains Moore.