Tom Moon

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (Workman Publishing), and a contributor to other books including The Final Four of Everything.

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.

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Music Reviews
2:42 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Music Review: 'All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller'

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 3:33 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

When filmmakers want to evoke the romance of American nightlife in the roaring 1920s, they often turn to the hot ripping music of Fats Waller.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE JOINT IS JUMPING")

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

First Listen: Tweedy, 'Sukierae'

Tweedy's new album, Sukierae, comes out Sept. 23.
Piper Ferguson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 8:39 am

A clue about the scruffy aesthetic of Sukierae arrives at the 2:27 mark of "World Away," one of 20 (!) songs on the first family-band album from Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Until this point, the tune — a variation on the Bo Diddley beat strummed on acoustic guitar, with Tweedy's sleepy voice distantly implying a blues cadence — has been fairly straightforward.

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Music Reviews
2:36 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

On Final Recording, Joe Beck Exposes Possibilities Of The Guitar

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun August 24, 2014

First Listen: Sinkane, 'Mean Love'

Sinkane's new album, Mean Love, comes out Sept. 2.
Martine Carlson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 8:10 am

"You know I love you, but you're mean."

Here's one of those eternal refrains. Nobody owns it; it's been in the air since forever. Maybe it was initially uttered by a songwriter toiling deep in the Brill Building, or first sung by a girl group.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

First Listen: Kimbra, 'The Golden Echo'

Kimbra's new album, The Golden Echo, comes out Aug. 19.
Thom Kerr Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 10:14 am

As it comes back around, an echo distorts the qualities of a sound just enough to encourage you to hear it differently. Maybe it's just distance changing the plain into the transcendent, but there's a trace of magic in an echo. It's like Narcissus' reflection, only better — inexact, an impression with new fuzz and new dimension to it. No choice but to appreciate it differently.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

First Listen: Adult Jazz, 'Gist Is'

Adult Jazz's new album, Gist Is, comes out Aug. 4.
James Pearson Howes Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 8:46 am

To music obsessives of a certain age, the current generation of listeners sometimes appears as lightweight grazers at the Internet smorgasbord who seem unwilling (possibly unable) to focus attention at depth on a single piece of music. The summary dismissal: The kids today, they can't handle all of what somebody like a Frank Zappa (or a band like King Crimson) throws at them.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

First Listen: Bear In Heaven, 'Time Is Over One Day Old'

Bear In Heaven's new album, Time Is Over One Day Old, comes out Aug. 5.
Dusdin Condren Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 12:19 pm

Two minutes and 11 seconds into "They Dream," from Bear in Heaven's fourth album Time Is Over One Day Old, the music takes a strange turn. The band has been shuttling along at a riveting adventure-movie clip, with Jon Philpot's reverb-swaddled voice functioning as the primary distinct element in a sleek blur. Then, abruptly, the tempo stops. A wash of Space Mountain synths dissolves slowly — the set has been struck. When Philpot begins to sing again, he's the sole occupant of the spotlight.

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Music Reviews
2:44 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

A Sax Trio Taps Tradition While Thriving In The Present

Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio released its self-titled debut album in June.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 5:23 pm

Melissa Aldana, who became the first female instrumentalist and first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition last fall, is not the average talent-contest winner.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

First Listen: Cloud Boat, 'Model Of You'

Cloud Boat's new album, Model of You, comes out July 8.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:31 am

"The madness runs in cycles," Tom Clarke sings forebodingly in "The Glow," one of the highlights of the U.K. duo Cloud Boat's second album. The music rushes along, propelled by the high-efficiency tick of a drum loop, but there's no trace of madness or even anxiety in his voice. Instead, Clarke radiates priestly calm as he gives listeners a set of vague, odd instructions: "Take some of these candles," he intones darkly, as if calling from some Middle Ages theater. "The glow will guide you."

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Music Reviews
2:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Album Review: 'While You Were Sleeping'

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 9:28 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: A jazz singer for the hip-hop generation - that's how Jose James was described after he released his first album last year for the famed Blue Note record label. James has now released a follow-up. It's called, While You Were Sleeping. And reviewer Tom Moon says the 35-year-old shows phenomenal growth.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING")

JOSE JAMES: (Singing) Shadows long upon my face. Shadows long upon my face.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Catch up with Jose James now because he's a rarity - an artist evolving at warp speed.

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