Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
A tenor saxophonist who played with the late Canadian bandleader Maynard Ferguson, Moon assembled a variety of Philadelphia musicians for what he calls the Moon Hotel Lounge Project, an all-instrumental collection that touches on elements of jazz, bossa nova and atmospheric fusion.
Inspired by Moon’s stays in snazzy hotel lounges while on the book tour for “1,000 Recordings,” the album is a cool and breezy listen, but the scraping guitar of Kevin Hanson on “Scaffolding, How to Dismantle” and a moody rearrangement of “Rock of Ages” (complete with a synthetic backdrop of vinyl “static”) are among the factors keeping things from drifting too far into the background.
Writer Tom Moon, regular contributor on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and author of the compulsively readable (and equally actionable, frankly) “1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die,” with “Into the Ojalá” (Frosty Cordial Records), his first album as a bandleader.
For the last three and a half years, award-winning music journalist Tom Moon has been searching out peak musical experiences from all genres and every corner of the earth. 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, published by Workman Publishing in August 2008, is the result of his journey. Covering both acknowledged world-culture masterworks (J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations) and recordings that have been unfairly overlooked (Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left), the book is designed to encourage listeners to become explorers.
Its essays are arranged alphabetically, not by genre. Each entry contains suggestions for further listening within an artist's catalog, as well as recommendations for similar or related recordings. In the back of the book are indexes that break out recordings by genre, and special occasion indexes containing playlist suggestions for various moods.
The goal, Moon writes in the introduction, is to spark curiosity about music ��all forms of music. There's great treasure waiting on the other side of wherever you draw your territorial lines.
1000 Recordings draws on Moon's experience as a music critic and musician. A saxophonist, he began playing professionally while studying at the University of Miami's School of Music (he graduated in 1983). He played in Latin bands, circuses, and in pit orchestras supporting Tony Bennett, the Fifth Dimension and many others. He worked as a musician on various South Florida-based cruise ships including the SS Norway, and spent most of a year touring the U.S. and Canada as part of Maynard Ferguson's big band.
Moon started his career in rock journalism because he was anxious to hear a new Steely Dan album. The year was 1980, the album was Gaucho, and Moon, then a freshman studying saxophone at the University of Miami, was about to embark upon a career of writing reviews.
Moon became interested in journalism after contributing occasional freelance pieces to the Miami Herald. He was hired as a music critic there in 1986, and moved to the Philadelphia Inquirer two years later. He worked at the Inquirer until 2005; during that time, he contributed reviews and feature stories to GQ, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, Esquire, Harp, Musician, the World Cafe with David Dye and National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
In the course of his journalism career, Moon has interviewed hundreds of recording artists, among them Miles Davis, Keith Richards, Beck, John Adams, Sonny Rollins, Madonna, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Ry Cooder, Ibrahim Ferrer and Caetano Veloso. During those conversations, he would ask the artists for recommendations of music they considered essential. Those recommendations are an important part of 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die.
A saxophonist whose professional credits include stints on cruise ships and several tours with the Maynard Ferguson orchestra, Moon served as music critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1988 until 2004. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Blender, Spin, Vibe, Harp and other publications, and has won several awards, including two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Journalism awards. He has contributed to NPR's All Things Considered since 1996.
Awards:Moon is a two-time winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Journalism award.
1994, he was selected as one of 12 inaugural fellows in the National Arts Journalism Program. Columbia University.
2001, the Philadelphia chapter of the Recording Academy recognized Moon with its "Heroes" award.