Blind street musician and avant-garde composer Louis Thomas Hardin – AKA Moondog – has enjoyed something of a posthumous popularity boom among music-lovers this past decade, thanks in no small part to Honest Jon’s 2004 compilation, The Viking of Sixth Avenue.
Now, hot on the heels of their Tristram Cary retrospective, which is out this week, Trunk Records – the peerless UK label that over the years has unearthed classic and cult recordings from the likes Paul Giovanni (The Wicker Man), John Cameron (Kes) and The Michael Garrick Trio (Moonscape) – will release Moondog And Suncat Suites by Kenny Graham And His Satellites.
Over to label-head Jonny Trunk to explain the origins of this odd and utterly captivating collection:
“By 1956, the early New York street recordings of the great Moondog had reached British shores. His primitive percussive sounds struck a new nerve with many artists and musicians, none more so that fine London jazzman Kenny Graham. So inspired was he by these extraordinary recordings that he decided to bring together a band of top notch session men and pay his very own musical homage. The result is this exceptionally rare and unique 1957 album of Moondog covers (Moondog Suite) and Graham’s own complimentary compositions (Suncat Suite).
Engineered by a young Joe Meek and starring Stan Tracey, Phil Seamen, Danny Moss, Ivor Slaney, soaring vocalise and a host of strange instruments this was a truly unique cocktail of sound and musical vision. The result is an exotic, ethereal and timeless recording that will inspire, haunt, beguile and charm for many years to come. The recording has remained unissed since 1957, when it was forst pressed on HMV records, and probably sold about 6 copies. I came across it when I was looking into the lost film music of Kenny graham, and relaised that this was an album worth investigating.
Think about it; Moondog, British jazz and Joe Meek all at the same time, and to top it all musically it’s very fine indeed. Little Bert currently goes to sleep listening to it. He’s 4. Before relase I looked in to using the classic painting “Dog Barking At The Moon” by Jean Miro that featured on the original album sleeve, but modern fees and licensing laws stood firmly in the way. So instead we improvised in a sort of 50s way, just like Graham would have done. What’s most important of all though is that this magical recording now exists again. It’s not jazz as we know it, it’s not really anything as we know it. It’s just an otherworldy recording that belongs in your world now.
You can find out more about the release, which should see release on CD, digital and limited edition vinyl in late April, here.
1. One Four
2. 2 West 46th Street
3. Two four
5. Three Four
7. Four four
9. Five four
10. Fog On The Hudson
13. Tropical Sun