This new release from Honest Jon's is the first overview of Moondog's remarkable artistic life - including recordings spanning from 1949 till 1995, with numerous 78s and various other vanished records revived for the first time. Though the compilation is rooted in the decades Moondog regularly lived rough in New York City, performing on street corners - 'the Viking Of Sixth Avenue' - at the same time it lays the music's claim to the future. It makes vivid sense of his inspiration of fans from Igor Stravinsky to Bob Dylan, Mr Scruff to Frank Zappa, Charlie Parker to Elvis Costello, Janis Joplin to Anthony And The Johnsons. Moondog was born Louis Thomas Hardin on May 26, 1916, in Marysville, Kansas. Noting the five-year-old's interest in percussion, his father took him to see an Arapaho Sun Dance. During the ritual the budding musician was allowed to sit on Chief Yellow Calf's lap and play the tom-tom. This experience - and later playing tom-tom and flute with the Blackfoot tribe in Idaho at another Sun Dance - would have a profound and lasting effect on the development of his own music and ideas. "The American Indians have this basic beat," Moondog said in 1995, "a heartbeat in two speeds - a walking beat (in twos) and a running beat (in four). I use those rhythms to this day. In fact it just came to me recently that American Indian music is just so syncopated that any jazz musician - especially in the swing era - would see a clear connection between jazz and Indian music. Those songs are not improvised - they've been handed down from generation to generation - they're extremely old. I think of America as an 'Old World' too, maybe older culturally than Europe." And elsewhere: "Harmonically, my music is the same as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms; rhythmically, it goes back to the past - the swing rhythms of the Indians. You really couldn't find anything more syncopated." Like Sun Ra or Harry Partch, Moondog's creative vision and accomplishments stretches way off the map into uncharted artistic waters that are seldom visited even now. A true creative genius.
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