Moondog

Moondog “On The Streets Of New York” (Mississippi)

2020-03-13T20:34:34+00:00February 20th, 2020|

Behold! A survey of Moondog’s earliest recorded works – many of them unreleased until now – through a collaboration by Mississippi Records and Lucia Records. From 1954–1962 field recordist Tony Schwartz frequently checked in with Moondog, his favorite street musician. Tony Schwartz made recordings of Moondog’s earliest compositions as they were coming into focus. Sometimes these recordings were made right on the street as Moondog busked, sometimes they were made in Schwartz’s studio, and sometimes they were made on NYC rooftops. The resulting recordings, many of which had never been released, were deposited at the Library Of Congress as part of the Tony Schwartz Collection in 2006 when Schwartz passed away, and this record was culled straight from these original tapes.

Side one kicks off with an unreleased version of Moondog’s classic composition “Why Spend The Dark Night With You?” followed by the first ever complete recording of his “Nocturne Suite,” a beautiful piece of classical music performed with members of the Royal Philharmonic. The side ends with the complete “On The Streets Of New York” 7″ EP, which was released on Mars records in 1955 and subsequently re-released by Honest Jon’s Records in 2004 on their excellent Moondog anthology. Side B features sketches of Moondog compositions never released, many with the man himself howling and chanting over his homemade percussion set.

Moondog’s music is as universal as it gets – part classical music, part Native American, part European folk, and part something completely unique. Moondog is one of the towering figures of 20th century music. This record comes with liner notes featuring never before released interviews with Moodog by Tony Schwartz and is housed in an old school “tip on” cover. All tracks fully licensed from the Library of Congress.

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Dustin Laurenzi “Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog” (Feeding Tube)

2019-04-05T03:01:57+00:00April 5th, 2019|

Chicago saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, a touring member of Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver and one-third of the inventive Chicago improvising collective Twin Talk, first encountered the music of Moondog a decade ago, while studying at Indiana University. “Initially, I liked the quirkiness of the music and the lore surrounding him,” he says. “I had always thought that there was potential for the music to be reimagined in a more improvised context, but it took a long time for that to actually happen,” explains Laurenzi. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he formed a versatile octet designed to interpret and expand on those sounds. “I started listening to more of his music and I became really obsessed with it, especially a lot of the rounds on his 1971 record Moondog 2. That music is really meticulous contrapuntally and rhythmically, but also super catchy and groovy.” Several of the pieces featured on that octet’s riveting debut Snaketime: The Music of Moondog, including “Nero’s Expedition”, “Lament I”, “Bird’s Lament”, and “Down is Up” utilize rounds, or perpetual canons. Laurenzi assembled a dazzling group of Chicago improvisers for the group, and his inventive arrangements of the material created various paths for each musician to extrapolate on the source material, whether through the extended passage bass clarinetist Jason Stein takes on the opening track “Nero’s Expedition” over the polyrhythmic groove meted out by percussionists Ryan Packard and Quin Kirchner and bassist Matt Ulery before the rest of the ensemble chimes in, or the way the leader’s imploring, powerfully sobbing tenor solo cleaves the cycling melody and practically silences his bandmates before they gently reenter. “Fiesta Piano Solo” deftly expands on the original solo piano work, engaging each horn player to contribute to a buoyantly infectious round robin party, where each statement lifts and inspires the next. The album was recorded live at Chicago’s Hungry Brain in January of 2018, but Laurenzi didn’t expect to release the music until he listened back later. The ensemble — which also includes guitarist Dave Miller, trumpeter Chad McCullough, and alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella — was carefully assembled: a mixture of players Laurenzi had worked with or had desired to. There’s an inescapably human, idiosyncratic vibe to the album, coursing with raw emotion and fragile beauty that both honors the distinctive spirit of Moondog and creates something utterly fresh at the same time. Edition of 500.

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Ensemble Minsym “Moondog New Sound” (Bongo Joe)

2018-03-01T19:56:41+00:00March 1st, 2018|

“I like to write chamber and choral music, especially for orchestra. But since it is not always easy to have orchestral works performed, the organ is the next best medium to give the composer vast tonal resources…”, Moondog wrote in 1978 in the liner notes accompanying the ‘Selected Works’ album – the confidential American cousin of Moondog in Europe, the first album he recorded in Germany. With ‘New Sound’, the Minisym Ensemble goes the opposite direction, taking the pieces for organ(s) constituting the ‘A New Sound Of An Old Instrument’ album (1979) – as well as pieces composed in Europe during the same period – towards a new and singular instrumentation.

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