Curt Moore

Class of 2016

Curt Moore

Curt Moore grew up in Belmont California, graduated Carlmont High and then San Jose State University where he studied percussion with Anthony Cirone. After some time off to pursue drum set playing opportunities, Curt returned to SJSU and finished his B.A. degree in Jazz Performance.

In the early days the drums came into Curt’s life around 1966 with a local drum and baton group of very young kids. He had been playing the clarinet for a couple of years before this, but in middle school he decided to drop the clarinet and stay with the drums. This drum group was taught by the famous drummer Mickey Hart and his father who was a rudimental drummer. In a short time, Curt learned about a small drum and bell corps in Redwood City CA called the Guardsmen. By 1970 the Guardsman had won the California State B Corps Championship. The drum corps experience was growing fast, and Curt was in love with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle corps. The family had the drum corps bug and traveled to Philadelphia in 1969 and Miami in 1970 for the VFW Championships. In 1971 Curt convinced his parents to take him the Vanguard auditions just to see if it was like he had imagined. His mom said, “ok but you have to take your sticks”.  Curt had no intention of trying out that night out because of his Guardsmen commitments. Curt and Louie Ruocco were the only 2 snares in the Guardsmen. But fate had a different plan. After waiting and watching the try outs all night there was one last slot to play for Bob Kalkofen. Curt went with his best friend that night he pushed him into going in for the last try out slot. At the end of that night Curt was a member of the Vanguard snare line. Unbelievable!

Music and drums have been an easy fit for Curt. His high school music program was excellent, and he excelled at all the different styles of music offered in a great public school music program. In fact, he was given a vocal award and graduated from Carlmont High School with a scholarship in singing. After a semester at SJSU in the vocal department he found his proper place and true home in the percussion program.

The years spent at SJSU as a percussion major were life changing. By 1975, 4 out of 8 snare drummers in the Vanguard snare line were music majors. This included SCV instructor, Bob Kalkofen. All of them were following in the footsteps of the great Fred Sanford. In 1975 Vanguard director Gail Royer needed some help with the percussion writing, so he came to Curt and Mike LaPorta to ask if they could help with the percussion arranging. They jumped on it and created some interesting and fun arrangements. One of these was the unusual 1975 drum solo arrangement of Birds of Fire, by The Mahavihsnu Orchestra.

In the immediate years after aging out of the Vanguard Curt worked as a full-time professional musician and played in many bands far and wide. In 1979 Curt returned to the Bay Area from performing in Lake Tahoe and went back to SJSU to finish his B.A. degree. This was the year Curt started his 5-year run teaching the Vanguard percussion program with Fred Sanford and Ralph Hardimon. By 1981 Curt and Ralph took over the percussion teaching duties and had three years together creating some exceptional drumlines. During those 5 years, Curt stayed very busy drumming in groups playing, Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Big Bands, Funk, in concerts and clubs. Ralph joined in with many of these groups.

At the end of 1983 it was time to commit to music as a career, so it was time to move on and Curt moved to Los Angeles. After spending time in Los Angeles, he decided to move back to San Francisco and, in the  years since has made the transition out of drum corps, playing full time and has creating a very successful music career for himself.  Curt has well over 100 recordings to his credit and has shared the recording studio stage with a wide variety of artists. Some of these include: Francisco Aguabella, Count Basie Orchestra, Chuck Berry, Ray Brown, Joyce Cooling, John Clayton, Richard Davis, Jesus Diaz, Ian Dogole, Pete Escovedo, Bruce Forman, Lola Falana, Vic Firth, Mimi Fox, Scott Hamilton, Jimmy Haslip, Jimmy Heath, Jackie and Roy, Andy Narell, Patrick Palomo, Bernadette Peters, Rufus Reed, Francios Rabatth, San Jose Jazz Orchestra, Turtle Island String Quartet. Curt co-leads a 5 piece Latin-Jazz group called Soul Sauce, as well as a Jazz Trio with 3 recordings. Curt played on a 1986 Grammy Nominated recording with New York based Jazz musicians Jackie and Roy.  In 2022 he recorded a 15-movement Jazz Mass with an all-star big band and classical choir at Skywalker Studios in Marin playing the vibraphone.  He also has many commercial and jingle dates to his credit. He playing experience covers a wide range of musical settings from Jazz, Latin, Brazilian, Big Bands, Funk, Rudimental, and Orchestral. In coordination with Lakeridge Productions, Curt has authored and co-produced his first instructional DVD for the drumset. The DVD was very well received by the drum community. The DVD covers the topic of Afro-Cuban drum set techniques, stylings and grooves and is entitled “grooves you can use”.

Currently Curt maintains a busy performing and teaching schedule. He teaches at his home drum studio in South San Francisco working with students from all over the Bay Area.

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