Louie Moon

Louie Moon

Louie Moon Biography Interview by "Jazzbo Collins"

Where were you born?

I was born in northwest Washington D.C. three days after Christmas, and moved to California at age nine. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When did you first discover music?

Our house in D.C. was always filled with music. My Mother had a dance studio in our basement and I remember sitting underneath the piano for hours listening to both Classical and Jazz music. It was then that I first heard the voices of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland and the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

When did you first start playing music?

I was probably three years old when I saw the movie "Gigi". I loved the title theme. When I got home I realized that I knew what the notes were to the song. I heard them in my head. I could barely reach the piano keys but managed to hit the notes and played the song. What a great feeling it was to actually make music!

So you had a natural ear for music?

Yes, I was always able to hear and repeat melodies and rhythms from a very young age. It is definitely a gift I was given and to this day I would say that my ears are two of my greatest assets.

What was your first instrument?

I wanted to be a drummer. I played boxes, cans, pots and pans at home and got a pretty good sound out of them too. But like many parents, mine said that drums were out of the question because they made too much noise. When I joined the school band I didn't get to choose what instrument I played, basically I got what was available. And that happened to be the clarinet. I didn't really take to playing the clarinet but I loved being in the band playing music.

When did guitar come into your life?

I found an old steel string guitar in the garage of a good friend.I borrowed it and excitedly I took it home, got a chord book and started to play. I loved it. Eventually I had to give it back...but my family realized that I was serious about playing music so they bought me my first guitar. It was hand-made by Geranimo Almesqua from Paracho Mexico. I can still smell that guitar. Rosewood. It was beautiful.

Do you recall a pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?

Yes, when I saw Wes Montgomery at the Greek Theater in Berkeley just before he died. That's when I knew I wanted to play jazz guitar. Another important moment came when I heard Miles Davis on "Stuff" and "Bitches Brew" for the first time. Miles opened my head to more avant-garde jazz and opened my ears to the whole new school of jazz that included people like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. I have always gotten a lot of my music sensibility from horn players. I've learned a lot about soloing on guitar from horn licks I have heard.

When did you first start to play to an audience?

Then my first real gig was with Ed Kelly. Harley White, and Smiley Winters at Esther's Orbit Lounge in West Oakland. It was a straight ahead jazz gig with three of the best musicians I have ever played with in my life.

I know you moved to Los Angeles for some years, why?

I moved to LA to study guitar and musical composition with Pat Martino, Joe Pass, and Howard Roberts at GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology) in Hollywood. At the time it was the premier school for guitarist on the West Coast. While in LA I had a chance to write and perform with some great musicians and session players including Pat Thomi.

Who has most influenced you musically?

As far as playing goes, Wes Montgomery, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and George Benson. In terms of composition, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, George Gershwin and Billy Strayhorn. And singing influences are Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Lou Rawls and Al Jarreau.

How would you describe your music?

There are elements of Jazz, Funk, Latin, and Rock in my writing. I enjoy all styles and mix them freely.

Why did you choose 'Round Midnight for the title cut on the CD?

Thelonius Monk was a huge influence on me and I always just loved the song. In the spirit of Monk I did the song my way , I "funked it up"

What do you want people to come away with after listening to your CD?

I want them to leave singing my songs. I want them to relate to them and hear a part of themselves in the music and lyrics. I don't want people to have to think hard about my music. I want them to feel it and relate to it on their own terms, personally.

What inspires you?

Well other music and musicians always have inspired me to reach for another level of proficiency and skill. The power of love in people and animals inspires me. Nature inspires me to express myself musically. I'm most inclined to write when I'm out in nature, this is when my brain is most silent and the inspiration just pops out. I'm a musician because I am driven to be part of the musical community that drives and sustains me. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to do. Music makes life better.