Title - 'Moondog'
Artist - Katia Labèque / David Chalmin / Massimo Pupillo
For those not in the know, French pianist Katia Labèque (and her sister, Marielle) rose to international fame when their two-piano recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue became one of the first classical albums to go gold.
David Chalmin is a French composer, producer, sound engineer and musician and also a member of the trio Triple Sun.
Massimo Pupillo is a bass and double bass player and composer best known for being the bassist of Zu.
Lastly, Raphaël Séguinier began to focus on percussion at the age of 15, after four years of studying piano. He developed, throughout his international career, a personal style that has led him to play with numerous high profile bands and artists.
On Moondog (released via Deutsche Grammophon), they all come together to produce what it, quite easily, one of the finest classical works of art I have heard in the past decade.
1. 'Lullaby (2 West 46th Street)'
2. 'Oboe Round'
3. 'Bird's Lament'
4. 'All Is Loneliness'
5. 'Elf Dance'
7. 'To A Sea Horse'
8. 'Tugboat Toccata'
9. 'New Amsterdam'
Manhattan in the Sixties. Every day, at the corner of 54th and Sixth, stood an imposing blind man with a druidic beard, dressed and helmeted like a Viking.
Every day, he played music with home-made percussion instruments and declaimed poems. A simple eccentric or picturesque figure?
No. Louis Thomas Hardin, called 'Moondog', was one of the true geniuses of his time. And even one of the geniuses of all time, prolific and visionary, capable of linking Bach, jazz and Amerindian rhythms, writing mini-symphonies, madrigals, piano pieces, highbrow makeshifts.
His art? A rare treasure accessible to all, as unique as it is universal. His life? A solitary odyssey strewn with encounters – from Philip Glass to Charlie Parker (to whom he dedicated Bird’s Lament, his best-known song), and from Leonard Bernstein to Stephan Eicher.
This extraordinary career ended in Germany, at the heart of this Europe where he always felt like a child in exile. As time went on, Moondog's admirers would include Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini, Paul Simon, Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin, John Zorn, Sophie Calle, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Philippe Starck, Antony Hegarty, Riad Sattouf et al.
And so, what we have is Katia Labèque bringing forth a selection of pieces rearranged with the group Triple Sun (David Chalmin, Massimo Pupillo and Raphaël Séguinier) that are quite stunning in their arrangements.
These performances, both free and respectful, never lose sight of the author's quest for rigor and balance and demonstrate to what degree Moondog's music is also, quite simply, an appeal to constant motion.
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