Moon Hooch

by Alexandra Kanovsky

Photo credit: Highline Ballroom

Brooklyn-based jazz trio Moon Hooch are set to perform in Bristol in early May as part of their upcoming European tour. The group is comprised of two saxophones and a percussionist; woodwinds Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen often perform on various types of saxophones and are accompanied by James Muschler, who keeps the dueling soloists on beat. The group has been described as jazz fusion, but market themselves as “cave music”. They often combine jazz licks with more dance-based synth beats in post-production.

The three met while studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and got their start busking on the streets of New York. Moon Hooch originally played outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art but later moved to the New York subway. They have been banned from playing at the Bedford station by the NYPD, who attempted to prevent dancing on the platforms. Their first album, Moon Hooch, was released in 2013 while the three were still primarily performing on the street. It was recorded over the span of 24 hours in Brooklyn and was marketed by the group as they played on subway platforms. Some of their songs, such as Number 9, feature recorded sounds of the subway system as part of the chart. The album peaked at number nine on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, achieving surprising success for a debut record. In their second album, This is Cave Music, the band started moving into more dance-based music. Wilbur, McGowen, and Muschler began to use synthesizers and vocals in this album, which is unique for a jazz group. They continued these methods since in their next album, Red Sky.

Moon Hooch is set to perform this coming May at the Thekla, a converted cargo ship moored in Bristol’s harbor. The Thekla is well known as both a popular club and music venue, but also because Bristol street artist Banksy completed one of his famous works on the side of the ship. The band will perform on Sunday, 6th March at 18:30 and no opener has been announced yet. Moon Hooch will appeal to longtime jazz fans and newcomers alike, as well as anyone interested in unique music techniques, so be sure to get your ticket soon!