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LeRoi Moore: The Influence of a Woodwind Master
By Jake Werkmeister
November 1st , 2004

Moore With an Alto SaxMost people know LeRoi Moore as the saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band.  If you are a DMB fan, you probably know LeRoi as the band member who says few words and hides in the shadows whenever he has nothing to play. 

What you may not know is how this seemingly humble man has single-handedly changed the way that a saxophonist is perceived in a rock band.  In order to understand Roi’s impact on the saxophone world, we must first understand his role in the Dave Matthews Band.

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The Making of a Saxophone Superstar

If you are reading this article, you most likely know that Moore was a respected jazz musician long before his DMB days.  LeRoi has admitted that when he first heard Dave play, he was less than impressed by the guitarist's musical skills. 

Despite a sketchy start and a horrible first practice, Roi gave up his weekly jazz performances in order to play with DMB.  He willingly let go of his steady jazz gigs in order to pursue this new type of music.  Most musicians would not have made this move considering it “too risky”, but Roi would later discover that he made the right choice. 

Leroi Moore Lit Up by FentonLeRoi Moore would be the first saxophonist to become a key member of a popular rock band.  Before DMB, there were only two other saxophonists to hold a similar role.  Pink Floyd had Dick Perry and Springsteen had Clarence Clemmons.  However, Perry’s role with Floyd was more of a guest soloist and Clemmons usually takes a supporting role as a backup singer/percussionist. 

LeRoi Moore is the first saxophonist to play vital saxophone riffs that help define a rock band

Moore's Style and Versatility

LeRoi’s playing and style have evolved the most out of the five DMB members. If you listen to early recordings of the band, LeRoi’s style and tone greatly resemble that of the great funk saxophonists of the 70’s and 80’s. Today, his playing is much more refined, more distinct, and more experimental. He brings much to the table. Though he is fluent in jazz, funk, rock, and even classical styles of music, Roi isn’t necessarily the greatest at playing any of these catagories.

Charlie Parker played jazz saxophone faster and cleaner than any saxophonist. Maceo Parker (no relation), who is Roi’s favorite saxophonist to listen to, defined the way funk saxophone is played. David Sanborn and Candy Dulfer have a better tone quality than Roi. Lenny Picket has a better control of the altissimo range (the really really high range) of the saxophone than does Mr. Moore.

LeRoi’s strength does not lie in being “the best ” in any one style of saxophone. His true gift is the ability to go from one style to another effortlessly. Listen to the straight funk riffs in What Would You Say (UTAD) and Too Much (Crash) then compare them with the classical riffs in The Stone (BTCS) or the R&B riffs of #41 (Crash). It’s as if there were several saxophonists inside Mr. Moore. This versatility extends even beyond DMB. Roi has been a guest on several albums that show off his jazz skills including Code Magenta and Yoko’s In November Sunlight.

Furthermore he has also been a guest soloist during several Phish concerts. (04/20/94, 07/21/04) Even though he can jump from style to style almost faster than Carter can drum, LeRoi never looses his vibe. Meaning that if you listen closely, you can always tell it’s Roi playing that saxophone.

Roi Plays Clarinet Too!The Humble Moore

LeRoi is the quiet member of the Dave Matthews Band. During band interviews he does not speak unless he is spoken to. When he does speak, he tends to be thoughtful and witty. When he is not with the band, he remains hidden somewhere in the heart of America waiting for the next gig. Interviews of LeRoi are nearly impossible to find. Even the details in his biography on DMB’s Official Website are sketchy at best.

LeRoi seems to value his privacy. He can always be found performing behind a pair of sunglasses during performances. The glasses help comfort a horrible case of stage fright that the saxophonist still has. He claims that he uses the fear from the stage fright and turns it into an adrenaline rush that helps him perform. Even though he’s a rock star, LeRoi Moore obviously has not let success go to his head. [Editor's Note: Roi's sunglasses came off during portions of the 2004 summer tour.]

A Saxophonist to be Admired

When LeRoi gave up jazz in order to play music with a bartender, he never could have guessed what a huge success the Dave Matthews Band would become. Millions of people go to see the band perform every year. Many of the fans are young musicians who are inspired by the talents of the DMB. Young saxophonists now look up to Mr. Moore and hope that they can someday play like he does. As one of those young saxophonists, I would like to extend my thanks to LeRoi Moore for being an inspiration and an example for all of us to follow.


Moore Stuff

As previously stated, LeRoi enjoys his privacy. Finding information about his horn collection is fairly difficult to find on any site dedicated to him. So here is a complete list of every known woodwind that he plays/played. This list has been created though many resources, and is probably the most complete list you will find anywhere to date. Enjoy

[Editor's note: If you know of an instrument Roi has played that is not listed here, please email submissions@weeklydavespeak.com.

Soprano Saxophones

Selmer Super Action Series II (White Lacquer)
Selmer Super Action Series III (White Lacquer)
Selmer Mark VI Soprano
Yamaha 875 Custom Soprano Saxophone (Gold Lacquer)

Alto Saxophones

Selmer Mark VI (Gold Lacquer)
Selmer Mark VI (Silver Plated)
Selmer Super Balanced Action Series II (Black Lacquer)
Yamaha 82Z Custom Saxophone (Bare Brass)

Tenor Saxophones

Selmer Mark VI (Gold Lacquer)
Selmer Mark VI ( 85%+ Stripped Gold Lacquer)
CONN New Wonder (Gold Plated)

Baritone Saxophones

Selmer Mark VI w/Low A (Gold Lacquer)
Yamaha 62 w/Low A (Gold Lacquer)
CONN New Wonder Low Bb (Silver Plated)

Bass Saxophones
Buescher True-Tone (Copper Plated)

Muramatsu Open-holed (Solid Silver)
Haynes Closed-holed (Solid Silver)

Bass Clarinet
Unknown Make and Model

Chris Abell tunable (wood)

Other Misc. Equipment
Rico Jazz Select Reeds
Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner
Peterson R450 Strobe Tuner
TC Electronic M5000
Eventide 4500 Ultra-Harmonizer
API 512b Mic Pre-Amp
Furman AR-Pro AC Line Regulator

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