I’m not particularly fond of books that enumerate essential recordings; there’s only so much argumentative fun to be had in disputing inclusions or omissions from someone's personal preferences. But I like Tom Moon's approach to music, so I like his 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, part of a rapidly expanding series of books about things to experience before you croak.
Moon was for many years the pop critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he displayed the kind of broad-mindedness folks often credit Greg Kot with. (He currently contributes to NPR's All Things Considered.) But Moon did more than pay lip service to jazz, international, and classical music. This book lists his choices by artists in alphabetical order, regardless of genre, so you go from reading about an album by South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim to reading about Raw Power by Iggy & the Stooges, from Memphis Minnie to Yehudi Menuhin.
There’s no self-congratulatory bullshit about Moon’s eclecticism. He’s like most folks out there who like more than one kind of music—he just happens to know a lot more about all of them than most folks. Naturally, I disagree with many of his choices, but the succinct capsules he's written for each recording are both informative in a general sense and with a minimum of effort cut to the heart of what makes the music so important to him.
Moon will discuss, sign, and sell copies of the book at a luncheon Monday at noon at the University Club of Chicago (76 E. Monroe). If you’re interested in attending you must make reservations through the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka (847-446-8880); $25 includes the lunch but not the book, which will be for sale at the event.
Eyvind Kang & Tucker Martine, Orchestra Dim Bridges (Conduit)
Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair (DFA)
Ralph Shapey, Radical Traditionalism (New World)
Rosa Passos, Romance (Telarc)
Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band, Appearing Nightly (Watt)