on 9 October 2010
Moondog, the wierdo with the Viking hat; he was blind, wasn't he?
Joanna MacGregor sets the record straight with her arrangements of fourteen Moondog pieces on Sidewalk Dances, at last reissued after being almost impossible to find for four years.
This is extraordinary music, joyfully performed by the Britten Sinfonia with MacGregor herself on piano and harpsichord, Andy Sheppard on saxes, Neville Malcom on bass, and Seb Rochford and Kuljit Bhamra providing drums and percussion. It sounds like jazz. It has the drive of the Duke Ellington Band in the Jimmy Blanton years, and the sheer exuberance of classic Charlie Mingus, but listen closely and you'll find not a trace of the blues. These are modal pieces, chaconnes and double canons. Moondog drew his inspiration from J S Bach as well as from the streets of New York. The music swaggers and swings and lopes and trots, but with a richness of texture and tone that continues to reveal itself with repeated listening.
Johann Sebastian would love this. Thank you, Joanna MacGregor, and everyone else involved.