The Outer Circle

Downbeat CD Review
Incorporates Soul, R&B, and Hip-Hop elements into his take on Jazz. Moore's compositions exude a sophisticated and soulful elegance.
Downbeat Jazz Magizine
The Revivalist
The Houston scene strikes again, this time from the likes of Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle with their debut record, The Freedom of Expression. Raised in the church scene with likes of Chris Dave and Robert Glasper, Moore is a lifelong musician traversing a number bands and styles before going back to school to get a master’s in jazz composition. The new project reflects this background with a great context of musicians including Moore on keys, Matt Leifer on drums, Dominique Sanders on bass, and Matt Hopper on guitar among some other guests.
The Revivalist
In Lieu of 1000 Words: The Project H and Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle
The Project H and Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle are two jazz ensembles lighting up Kansas City jazz in 2013.
Eddie Moore has brought together Adam Scholzman on guitar, Ben Leifer on bass and Matt Leifer on drums to mostly perform original compositions by himself, Ben and Adam. These songs tell stories, or musically illustrate experiences, all with an intelligence that pulls you in and sets you on a unique path.
There's just something about that Houston, Texas cool. It's a sound so hard to explain, but felt immediately. Maybe it's the humidity. Whatever it is, pianist Eddie Moore has it. Moore and his group, The Outer Circle, just released their debut album, The Freedom of Expression. The core quintet includes Moore on keys, Dominique Sanders on bass, Matt Leifer on drums, and Matt Hopper on guitar, all of whom come together quite nicely. The album also features tenor sax player Erik Blume, drummer Ryan Lee, and tenor player Andy McGhie on “Houston Visions”, as well as Nate Nall and Matthew Baldwin on "Saved by the Bell". The album is straight-ahead in the contemporary sense, a downright pleasure to listen to and a strong debut. Moore is certainly a talent of this era and it'll be interesting to see where else he and this group will go. It certainly worth checking out (and copping) after the jump.
Anthony Dean-Harris
Demencha Review
The Freedom of Expression, is just that – free. It swells with the joy of creation. It sounds like people unafraid to jump wherever the flow takes them. The music held within is simultaneously contemplative and reactionary, painting moody landscapes with well-disciplined musicianship. The piano-led quartet conjures an emotive, silky and decisive swath of color and place. It’s an album that always feels like it’s traveling somewhere. Moore’s piano and Matt Hopper’s guitar delightedly dance in and out of songs, supported on the strong spine of Dominique Sanders and Matt Leifer’s bass and drums. This isn’t to say that the rhythm section is in the background. Leifer and Sanders are the life’s blood of this record. No where is more apparent than the title track “The Freedom of Expression”. The rhythm section creates enough room for tangential roaming, while maintaining steady discipline and cooperation, which allows Moore and tenor saxophonist, Eric Blume, to run into and over each other. They play both in a call-and-response method, as well as soloing.
James Mnamara
Rappers I Know
“Continuing the tradition of other great young and contemporary Houston-bred jazz pianists like Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, Eddie Moore, along with his Kansas City based quartet The Outer Circle, is dropping an EP with Rappers I Know in early 2013 titled The Freedom of Expression.”
Frank Miller
CD Review
“Freedom of Expression has an unfettered feel about it, but it’s not so far out there as to become difficult to discern. For me, Erik Satie stalks some of the melodies, most notably September 15th, and Moore’s style contains a slither of Horace Silver’s playing rather than reminders of any other obvious keyboard titans. He has a capacity for prettiness in his approach to composition and that, I think, distances him from much of the cliches of showy jazz piano.”
The Curator -
The Curator -
Plastic Sax
Of the many notable albums that have been released in the past few years by Kansas City-based jazz musicians, only a few have pleased me more than Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle's new release The Freedom of Expression. In addition to documenting the formidable talent of several young musicians, the project serves as a reminder that everything is indeed up to date in Kansas City.

With the exception of "Liberation," the mainstream closing track, The Freedom of Expression is a bracing collection of modal neo-soul grooves. Imagine 1968-era Herbie Hancock filtered through 2009-era Robert Glasper.

Because I don't possess a physical copy of the album, I'm unsure of the specific credits. The core of the band is keyboardist Eddie Moore, guitarist Matt Hopper, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Matt Leifer. Saxophonists Erik Blume and Andy McGhie also make appearances.

Knowledge of such details isn't necessary to appreciate The Freedom of Expression. No one- not even Moore- attempts to draw excessive attention to his contributions. Even "Anger Management," the loudest track, maintains a pleasing low-key atmosphere. A few selections are hampered by an annoying buzz that I presume is emitted by an amp, a reflection of the session's casual vibe.

Yet listeners shouldn't confusing the relaxed ambience of The Freedom of Expression with nonchalance. The beautiful album represents an important touchstone in the evolution of Kansas City jazz.
Bill Brownlee
Can you think of a better time to spin some new jazz tunes than a lazy Sunday afternoon? Well, thanks to Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, we can fulfill our musical craving by way of The Freedom of Expression. Eddie Moore is a pianist, and he is sure to draw up some comparisons to Robert Glasper. Especially with his ability to intertwine contemporary sounds with more traditional teachings. But his new album deserves a bit of separation from Glasper, and quite frankly any other modern day jazz musician.

With his quartet, Moore’s focus falls directly on the melody. As you run through The Freedom of Expression, you will notice how accessible these tunes can come across. But for the more experiences listener, there is certainly some more complex detail to latch on to. Stream the album below, and purchase it over at Bandcamp.
Indy Shuffle
Jazz guitar can be awesome, just ask Wes Montgomery or DJ Premier. A good jazz guitar lick can be a vacuum, sucking you in and creating a world unto itself. Many hip-hop beats are based around little more than a jazz guitar loop and a drum break — it can be that powerful.

This tune by Eddie Moore and The Outer Circle certainly falls into that category. The guitar is not the only star of the show by any means; Eddie Moore’s direction leads to a soft but strong connection between his piano, Matt Leifer’s drums, Dominique Sanders’ bass and — my personal favorite part of this whole, what drives the sweetness of the tune home for me — Matt Hoppers’ guitar. This track is the lead single off the group’s full length debut, The Freedom of Expression, which will be out February 1, 2013, though you can hear a lengthier preview here.

Though Eddie Moore’s name may not ring too strongly outside of hardcore jazz circles at the moment, he definitely has the skill set to break through. This tune and artist comes by recommendation of the great FWMJ of RappersIKnow, who seems to have all areas of Black Texas music in his hard drive.
Dememcha Interview
When Eddie walks in he looks around intently. I fully realized the immediate awkwardness of the situation. I have been researching him and his music for the better part of a week. I know what he looks like, where he gigs, who he plays with. He knows exactly two things about me. I’m writing for Demencha and I can hit send on an e-mail. He dresses differently than I thought he would. He’s in a charcoal cardigan with horizontal red stripes and a graphic tee. His dreads pulled back neatly. He looks like a well kempt skater kid. Which, he tells me after the interview that he was.
James McNamara
KC Star
“His Outer Circle band, with Sanders on bass, Matt Hopper on guitar and Matt Leifer on drums, plays mainly original music, grooving like crazy but not always in 4/4 time. You can hear influences such as Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and another cat from Houston, Robert Glasper. ”
Joe Klopus
“The Freedom Of Expression“, which to my ears is sounding like it’s going to be a certified “Sleeper Of The Year” within the Jazz scene already.”
Square Roots
Plastic Sax
“ The Freedom of Expression, the new album by Moore and the Outer Circle, seems to split the difference between Glasper's 2007 album In My Element and last year's Black Radio. ”
Bill Brownlee
CD Review
This is a confident debut and it strongly suggests that Eddie Moore and The Outer Circle need room to move if you are going to hear them at their best. More than that, it is a declaration that in order to express yourself, you must, first and foremost, have something to say. I, therefore, am listening with interest.

The Curator -
<May 2021>

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