Arvella Moore (dates unknown)
Arvella Moore was a pianist whose career in Kansas City was short but sweet. Moore joined the Local 627 in August of 1941, as she was recruited to join Harlan Leonard and His Rockets to replace William Smith. Moore was active in the Kansas City scene as a member of The Rockets, one of the hottest bands in the city of the time. The following year, Moore joined Leonard when he, as well as some other members of the band, including vocalist Myra Taylor, relocated to Los Angeles. The band had a regular engagement at the Hollywood Club beginning in April 1943. Next, the band moved onto Club Alabam, the center of L.A.’s jazz scene and a favorite among Hollywood stars, in early 1944. The band’s final engagement was at Shepp’s Playhouse, before Harlan Leonard and His Rockets ultimately disbanded in 1945.
It is unclear what Moore did after the band disbanded. In one mention of Moore (shortly after the band moved to Los Angeles), she was referred to as “Miss” Moore – indicating she was unmarried. She likely got married at some point, abandoning her maiden name, making it very difficult to track what she did (and where she went) next. Perhaps she could not find work afterwards in the postwar period, as the men came back from WWII.
Leonard’s orchestra had their last commercial recording session in 1940, gradually releasing the singles over the course of the next two years. Since Arvella Moore did not join the group until 1941, she was not on any of these recordings. She was, however, a part of a 1943 broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) program Jubilee, which featured Black musicians. These broadcasts were often recorded before a live audience in Los Angeles. This is the only identified recording of Moore.
Harlan Leonard and his Orchestra perform "Harlem Shout" with Moore on piano. Recorded October 1943; broadcasted on November 8, 1943 on AFRS.
You can listen to the entire program here.
Evensmo, Jan. History of Jazz Tenor Saxophone: Black Artists 1940–44. 1997: 32. http://www.jazzarcheology.com/artists/sedition_tenorsax_1940_1944.pdf
Spragg, Dennis. Jubilee: Part 1 [finding aid]. Boulder, CO: UCB Library: Glenn Miller Archive: 77.