Travellin’ Light

Michael Moore Answers 20 About Life on the Road

Michael Moore

Michael Moore is an Amsterdam-based saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and bandleader. Though he is American, his contributions to Dutch jazz and improvised music are considerable, both as a member of such defining ensembles as the Maarten Altena Octet, ICP Orchestra and Clusone Trio, and as the leader of Available Jelly and other projects. He releases his music largely through his Ramboy imprint (accessed through, the two most recent releases being Available Jelly’s Bilbao Song and Osiris, by Moore’s Quintet; but, Moore also regularly appears on recordings on various North American and European labels, such as Kamosc (Red Toucan), a trio album with Achim Kaufmann and Dylan van der Schyff (reviewed in this issue’s Moment’s Notice).

New York audiences will have a few opportunities to hear Moore live before year’s end. Jewels & Binoculars, the trio of Moore, Lindsay Horner and Michael Vatcher, will play the music of Bob Dylan on September 9 at Cornelia Street Café. On December 19 and 20, Moore will be improvising at The Stone with musicians TBA.


What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

The one you haven't flown before.

That's like asking: Who's your favorite prison guard?

They all are all-powerful and can treat you any way they want with impunity. Some folks who work the check-in counters have developed a very delicate psychological game, seemingly for their own amusement.

What irks me is the arbitrary fixation on weight - only 5 kilo carry-on, or an 8 € per kilo overweight charge, etc., when you know that they would have no problem if you weighed 180 kilos. Then they reimburse you per kilo when they lose your luggage, which makes no sense to me.

Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

Again, I can't single out any particular offender. I like to drink lots of water and sometimes it's difficult to get the steward(ess)'s attention. We'll see what that's like now that you can't bring any with you.

Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

Fiumicino (Rome), Barajas (Madrid), De Gaulle (Paris), Deathrow (London); transferring between domestic and international terminals anywhere can be harrowing.

What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

My mouthpiece - more important than the instrument.

What is your worst lost baggage story?

I suppose it would be with Clusone Trio doing one-nighters in North
America when my bag with clothes and clarinet didn't leave Schiphol (notorious for losing luggage) for a week. Despair sets in after days of buying bits of clothing and putting off the major purchases. 

What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?

I had a British customs guy take apart a wooden flute once, but then I was coming from Amsterdam.

I've never felt that a particular country had it out for musicians;

It's usually political - there are people who cannot distinguish between a citizen and the policies of their government.

Which city has the worst cab drivers?

Amsterdam is pretty horrible - I've given up trying to get a cab from the train station to my house - but it's because of some stupid decisions on the part of the city government regarding medallions.

For horn players it's generally not so bad, and we can enjoy watching the bassist deal.

What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

Ahh. Memories of golden elevators and jacuzzis ... fortunately I haven't come to expect cheap opulence. Variety keeps life interesting.

A good bed, reading lamp, phone, bathtub, within walking distance to the center of town and the venue is what I want.

Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

What's a PDA? Laptop sometimes; if so, not more than once a day. GPS 10 times a day.

Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?

Sometimes - Ipod, CD player, my head, whatever sound system the background fabric of our lives is seeping out of.

Do you do your own laundry on the road?

Hell yeah! If I have time I like to find a laundromat for the local color, otherwise it's bebop (post-bop for the undergarments).

What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

There was an engineer fresh out of 'engineer school' at a concert in Eindhoven last year who, after two hours of setting up mics, was still busy when we started playing. It sounded horrible onstage - if I played into the mic it would feedback - that sort of thing; but this is not that unusual.

It's the guys who have an idea in their head of what a certain acoustic instrument should sound like who are the most dangerous.

What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

I have no memory of frightening backstage food.

A piece of ham on a white roll with butter can make me pensive.

What are your three favorite venues?

My favorites are places where I can play acoustic and fill the room. Felix Meritus, Concertgebouw and the Bimhuis - but that's just Amsterdam.

Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

I don't usually like to eat late, though in Italy I enjoy being swept away to a late night repast.

Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

No idea.

What is the best city that closes down too early?


What is the best locale to have a day off?

Eureka, California

What is your cure for jet lag?

Accept it.

What is your best tip for the novice?

Enjoy it now - don't wait for anything.

Ruined Time

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