Album Review

Ian Koss

Moondog and the London Saxophonic
Sax pax for a sax (Atlantic)

The opening track is like two and a half minutes of the first bar in "Sing Sing Sing." Drums umble like a marathon runner's heart near the finish line, a chorus of saxophones sounding like a musical beehive, full of take-offs and landings.

I can only start to tell you about Moondog. I'll tell you the whole thing, but you'll think I'm making it up and will check for yourself anyway. But Moondog was a fixture on his NYC corner, dressed in flowing beard and Viking garb, beating out rhythms that had no integral signatures, singing melodies that had no scale could contain and playing homemade instruments that had no duplicate. Later on it would be revealed that Moondog was Louis Hardin, and more of a musical genius than musical idiot-savant, but not before he influenced just about every jazz musician to live or pass through the Big Apple.

The music on sax pax for a sax is bold and assertive - even at its most demure, the saxophone can't help its brassy nature - powerful without losing grace. Increasingly larger groups of saxophones interplay in melodies that weave through kettledrum pillars in a way that is equal parts Philip Glass and Paul McCartney. I can't recall the last time I heard something so utterly alien and familiar at the same time. The music simply hits a buried nerve on just about everyone I've played it to. You at least owe yourself the experience.

"Ink 19" was a music publication available in the Southeast US from 1991-2000. Though Ink 19 stopped printing in December 2000, it continues online at
Thanks to Ian Koss