Gifted American musicians who are unjustly ignored at home don't just fade away - if they're smart, they move away.
Two classic examples are saxophone giant Dexter Gordon and blues pianist Memphis Slim. After relocating to Europe, these titans found artistic and financial freedom after years of neglect and abuse in the United States.
Expatriate avant-gardist and octogenarian Moondog Perhaps none have benefited more from leaving America than the one and only Moondog (born Louis Hardin). Without exaggeration, Moondog describes himself as "The Original - The Blind American Composer Who Is Since The Early Fifties A Cult Figure And Pathmaker For Many Different Trends Of Music." Known primarily as the powerful Viking-clad street poet (and occasional recording artist) who roamed Sixth Avenue in Manhattan for three decades beginning in the late 1940s, Moondog's quality of life dramatically changed for the better once he split to Germany in 1974.
On his first American release in over 25 years, Sax Pax For A Sax, Moondog's musical brilliance shines as brightly as ever. Hooked on counterpoint and overtones, Moondog's compositions make the listener smile and sigh at the same time. Predominantly an instrumental album (the only vocals are on the "locale" songs, "Paris", "New Amsterdam" and "Shakespeare City"), Sax Pax For A Sax features the inimitable Moondog solidly thumping away on a bass drum while a multitude of swirling saxophones (augmented on occasion by piano and additional percussion) hop, skip, and jump in perfect harmonic arrangement.
Moondog's jauntiest jams sound like a nostalgic big band on laughing gas. When he pulls in the reins, a quiet dignity permeates his classically derived tone poems. Not too shabby for a discarded national treasure who also happens to be an octogenarian (Moondog turns 82 on May 26th). Still fresh and sassy, Sax Pax For A Sax is Moondog's winsome way of saying hello and reminding us just how much he's been missed.