Pianist Aaron Moore, a dexterous stylist who bridges generations and genres, may be the last well-kept secret of Chicago blues. Moore worked with the likes of Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter in his younger days, and he remembers that Muddy Waters tried to recruit him in the early 70s. But by then he'd mostly abandoned music for a steady job with the Department of Streets and Sanitation, and only since retiring in 1988 has he turned back to it. He appeared on guitarist Brewer Phillips's 1996 Delmark disc, Homebrew; the same year he recorded his own solo debut, Hello World (also on Delmark). On that album, backed by a crew of stalwart Chicago traditionalists, Moore unfurls a keening tenor reminiscent of the late Sunnyland Slim; his keyboard work shows the influence of such masters as Roosevelt Sykes and Memphis Slim. He's especially brilliant as an ensemble pianist: where many soloists establish their dominance by setting the pace, defining the style, and imposing their own ideas throughout, Moore finds ways to bring subtle new shadings into what his band is creating behind him. Riding the beat, he inserts splayed chords, precise single-note statements, and skittering runs into the spaces his sidemen leave open. His sparse, almost cerebral style of blues improvisation might require you to dig a little deeper than usual, but the riches you'll discover make the effort well worthwhile. Friday and Saturday, 9:30 PM, Lilly's, 2513 N. Lincoln; 773-525-2422. DAVID WHITEIS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Steven Sharp.