Moondog-sax_pax_span3
May 1998

Moondog & The London Saxophonic
Sax Pax For A Sax
Atlantic Records

The melancholy mysticism that permeates this recording is rare beauty. Sax Pax For A Sax issues Louis Hardin's (a.k.a. Moondog) first re-entry in the American market since 1971. A stargazing composer, Moondog's penchant for crafting accessible, yet utterly otherworldly melodies bridges European classical forms with American jazz sensibilities, and positions him among the greats like Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, George Russell and Duke Ellington. His knack for inventing hybrid instruments has also placed him among the ranks for Harry Partch and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. On this venture, Moondog is paired with the all-saxophone ensemble, The London Saxophonic, to deliver a collection of carnival-esque melodies that successfully meshes hypnotic Native American tribal stomps, rich Baroque chords and bracing big band harmonies.

The orchestration for this collection is keenly programmed into different sized ensembles providing a distinctively unified yet varied sound. From the jovial cabaret composition, "Paris," which features a nonet swinging jubilantly in unison with a vocal choir, to the rococo waltz, "Mother's Whistler," which features a soprano saxophone beautifully leading a quintet, the stylistic palette for this engrossing recording is boldly varied.

This music eclipses the conventional big band vernacular yet uncannily swings with panache. Sax Pax for A Sax is a most welcomed comeback that will surely re-ignite Moondog's cult following.

Originally published in May 1998
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