Moondog

COMPOSERS: Moondog
LABELS: Sound Circus
ALBUM TITLE: Joanna Macgregor
WORKS: Sidewalk Dances
PERFORMER: Joanna MacGregor (piano), Andy Sheppard (saxophone), various musicians, Britten Sinfonia
CATALOGUE NO: SC 010
Blinded in an accident at 16, Louis ‘Moondog’ Hardin studied and composed in Braille, dressed like a Viking, and used the Manhattan streets as his concert-hall for three decades until moving to Cologne in 1974. His arrival in NYC coincided with the maturing of bebop (his Parker tribute, ‘Bird’s Lament’, is included) but his biggest influences were Native American music and the Renaissance and Baroque polyphonists. He considered Bach a sloppy contrapuntalist and tested himself with the 15-part canon ‘Heath on the Heather’. Reich and Glass reputedly dubbed him the founder of Minimalism and the connections are evident, but there are echoes of the Middle-East, Charles Mingus and Sun Ra too. MacGregor’s arrangements are exhilarating and sheppard and the Britten Sinfonia play with feeling. Barry Witherden

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