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Jazz critic Tom Moon changes roles for first album, ‘Into the Ojala'

January 4, 2011 |  3:37 pm

Tom Moon What’s it like when a critic switches places with an artist? 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,” will find out Tuesday with “Into the Ojalá” (Frosty Cordial Records), his first album as a bandleader.

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.

— Chris Barton