The blind street-musician Moondog was a gentle soul whose strange musical creations were admired by artists as diverse as Stravinsky, Steve Reich and Charlie Parker.
This anthology ignores his later orchestral works in favour of 30 earlier pieces, ranging from solo exercises on self-made instruments such as the percussive trimbas and the oo, a hammer-dulcimer of typically idiosyncratic tuning, to rounds played on organs or oboes, whose layered drone effects resemble a form of Arabic minimalism. "Ostrich Feathers Played on Drums" is just that, while "Hardshoe" and "Softshoe" are duets with tap-dancer Ray Malone. Being blind, Moondog was attuned to the music of the streets, with traffic noise adding to the elegantly syncopated horn arrangement of "Up Broadway", whilst misty ship's horns provided the inspiration for pieces like "Tugboat Toccata". Later, he would marry, move to Europe and dedicate himself to classical composition, but here Moondog's solitude is expressed in his aphoristic poetry, enigmatic wordplay similar to that of Sun Ra: "A burning star, turning in an orbit all of its own/ Such and such is I". Not so much a star as an entire universe.
Pick of the album: 'Up Broadway', 'Softshoe', 'Autumn', 'Moondog Monologue', 'Oboe Round'