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
4:54 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Review: 'Covered,' Robert Glasper

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 8:56 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When he started the Robert Glasper Experiment, the pianist was trying to blend hip-hop, jazz and R-and-B into a new sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHERISH THE DAY")

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Music
4:34 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

For The Word, Gospel Is More About A Feeling

On The Word's new album, Soul Food, the group tackles traditional gospel grooves and seriously funky backbeats.
Jay Adkins Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 7:23 pm

For some people, gospel music is all about the message — of faith and forbearance, sin and salvation. For the members of the mostly instrumental supergroup known as The Word, gospel is more about a feeling. The group's long-awaited second album, Soul Food, is a rousing, thoroughly modern take on gospel.

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Music Reviews
4:53 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

'Sound & Color' A Bold Leap Forward For Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes' new album, Sound & Color, is powered by more than just the vocals of Brittany Howard.
Brantley Gutierrez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 6:23 pm

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First Listen
12:43 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Review: 'Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith'

Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith comes out March 17.
Crackerfarm Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 10:42 am

Working as a music journalist means that some days you get to tell people, in breathless prose, about an incredible new record you've discovered. On other days, you have to tell people that an artist you've followed and respected for years is no longer living. That part is never any fun. Listening to the hushed, elegantly spare Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, I found myself transported back to the period right after Smith died, of apparently self-inflicted stab wounds, in 2003.

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Music
5:51 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Review: José González, 'Vestiges & Claws'

José González's new album, Vestiges & Claws, comes out Feb. 17.
Malin Johansson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 11:11 pm

He asks a lot of questions, this José González.

He opened his last album, 2013's band project Junip, with a thought experiment Nietzsche could love: "What would you do if it all came back to you?" The song, "Line Of Fire," dwells in a mood of idle 3 a.m. musing; González tosses out existential/metaphysical conundrums like he's feeding bread to ducks — casually, without worrying much about concrete answers.

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Music Reviews
5:48 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Dylan The Crooner

Detail from the cover art of Bob Dylan's new album-length Frank Sinatra tribute, Shadows in the Night.
Album cover

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:02 am

Bard. Voice of a generation. Bob Dylan has been called many things over the years. With his new album, Shadows in the Night, the 73-year-old aims for another title: crooner.

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Remembrances
4:18 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Rolling Stones Saxophonist Bobby Keys Dies

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 6:24 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Saxophonist Bobby Keys was still a teenager when he started playing with his fellow Texan Buddy Holly and pop star Bobby Vee. Later, he joined up with the Rolling Stones. And for more than 40 years, Bobby Keys' powerful sax was a key part of their sound.

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Music
6:04 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

First Listen: Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, 'Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn'

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn's new self-titled album comes out Oct. 7.
Jim McGuire Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 9:28 am

This is not Dueling Banjos: The Married Couple Edition. You won't find the careening energy of the mano-a-mano from the Deliverance soundtrack, or of the Flatt and Scruggs classic "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Outbreaks of dazzling, speed-demon technique are few.

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Music Reviews
4:52 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Two Princes: The Purple One Returns In Stereo

Prince has two new albums out, Art Official Age under his own name and Plectrumelectrum with 3RDEYEGIRL (pictured).
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 6:46 pm

In the last 20 years, Prince has gotten more attention for his acrimonious spat with Warner Brothers — and the shenanigans surrounding his name — than for the music he's continued to make. And yet, as a performer, Prince is still undeniable, one of the living best.

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Music
12:26 am
Tue September 16, 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 10:39 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
4:16 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

On Final Recording, Joe Beck Exposes Possibilities Of The Guitar

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 4:36 pm

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

Music Reviews
4:44 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 7:23 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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Music Reviews
4:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Album Review: 'While You Were Sleeping'

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 11:28 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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First Listen
4:16 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

First Listen: tUnE-yArDs, 'Nikki Nack'

tUnE-yArDs' new album, Nikki Nack, comes out May 6.
Holly Andres Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 12:13 pm

The creators of pop music are usually able to break down the fundamentals of their craft — that search for the clever rhyme, the killer beat, the singable chorus. They are less articulate, understandably, about the other quest, the one that powers those everyday searches: the pursuit of ecstasy in sound. There's something almost paranormal about that part of the creative process, yet we know those moments, instantly, when we hear them.

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Music Reviews
4:03 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Album Review: 'Everyday Robots'

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 2:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Damon Albarn's first solo album is out today. Albarn was the frontman of the acclaimed British rock band Blur in the '90s, and since 2000, he has spearheaded the multi-platinum group Gorillaz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WINDMILL")

GORILLAZ: (Singing) Take it all it on your stride. And it's sticking, falling down. Love forever...

SIEGEL: Reviewer Tom Moon says Albarn's new work seeks out the flipside to the Gorillaz' manic intensity. The new album "Everyday Robots."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY ROBOTS")

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First Listen
11:26 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

First Listen: Thievery Corporation, 'Saudade'

Thievery Corporation's new album, Saudade, comes out April 1.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:16 pm

Every language has words and phrases that elude easy translation. In Portuguese, "saudade" (pronounced by Brazilians as "sow-DAH-djee") is one of those. Some musicians equate it with the blues; it's generally associated with melancholy and longing. In its most recent bio, the Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation defines it as "a longing for something or someone that is lost."

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Music Reviews
4:05 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Album Review: 'Morning Phase'

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 11:05 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Music Reviews
4:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Album Review: 'Sun Structures,' By Temples

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:00 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Finally this hour, a new perspective on the enduring influence of The Beatles. It comes from another four-piece British rock band called Temples. The group is from the town of Kettering. Critics have been raving about them since last summer. Their debut album, "Sun Structures," has now been released here in the U.S. And hearing it might whisk you away to 1960s Liverpool. Here's our critic, Tom Moon.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: If nothing else, Temples has impeccable timing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHELTER SONG")

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Music
9:38 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

When Donny Hathaway, Thelonious Monk And Neil Young Hit A Turning Point

Live at the Cellar Door, the new album from Neil Young, was recorded in 1970.
Gary Burden Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 7:29 pm

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Music Reviews
3:14 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Pop's Resident Provocateur Fizzles On 'ARTPOP'

Lady Gaga's new album, ARTPOP, is out now.
Inez and Vinoodh Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 7:54 pm

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