Artist: The Mike Smith Company
Songs: Bird's Lament + All Is Loneliness [composer: Moondog; arranged by Mike Smith]
Recorded at The Music Gallery (Moondog 100), December 3, 2016.
Celebrating what would have been the one-hundredth birthday of Louis T. Hardin, the blind street performer better known as Moondog, this event invited two groups to reflect and refract his unique compositional sensibility. No mere busker, "The Viking of 6th Avenue" crossed paths with many of New York's musical legends, including Leonard Bernstein and Charlie Parker — and his friendship with Philip Glass and Steve Reich (plus his love of musical canons — "rounds" to row-your-boaters like me) cemented his status as a forerunner to minimalism. Mike Smith's arrangements, however, ensured the snaketime rhythms weren't treated with too much fustiness by imbuing them with some grooves — "All Is Loneliness" features a bouncy bassline (and some fine basso vox from Jonathan Adjemian) while "Bird's Lament" has the same sort of synth wiggles that pop up frequently in Smith's own compositions. In fact, the set included a trio of new Moondog-inspired works that will hopefully make their way back in other musical settings.