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.
Moondog's has not often been played in concert – either during his lifetime or posthumously. All the more reason for elaborating with particular care a programme centered on his oeuvre…
Katia Labèque thus presents a selection of pieces rearranged with the group Triple Sun (David Chalmin, Massimo Pupillo and Raphaël Séguinier), and staged with dance solos by Marie-Agnès Gillot, a prima ballerina with the Paris Opera Ballet, and her partners Yaman Okur and Stéphane Deheselle. 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.
Immense thanks to Amaury Cornut for his precious help and research work.
13/06/2016 Le Monde « Some nights are the work of a genius. This one for the evening devoted to Moondog at the 'Nuits de Fourvière' [festival in Lyon], was to have given free rein to Katia Labèque in the second half, with the group Triple Sun and the choreography of Marie-Agnès Gillot. Her version takes on its full meaning only after the evocation, as original as it is faithful and ambitious, of the first half: alternating the Lyon Opera Orchestra, conducted by a remarkable Stefano Montanari, and the Ensemble Minisym of Amaury Cornut, 28, biographer (Moondog, Le Mot et le reste) and activist of operations for the centenary of the angel of the bizarre.»