The composer, poet and instrument inventor Louis Thomas Hardin, alias Moondog remains one of the most celebrated and eccentric figures in the annals of modern music. The Kansas born Hardin, who lost his sight in a farming accident at 16, went from a unique street performer in New York to a published and recorded influential musician in Münster Germany.
Who better to celebrate his singular legacy than two of today's most idiosyncratic and creative saxophonists, the Frenchman Sylvain Rifflet and the American Jon Irabagon. Recorded live in April of 2013, during the 30th Banlieus Bleues Festival in Bobigny France, the engrossing and passionate Perpetual Motion features Rifflet and Irabagon co-leading an adventurous sextet that interprets 12 of Moondog's pieces and two Rifflet originals.
Rifflet and Irabagon have superb camaraderie and a shared vision, which is reflected on such tracks as "Heat on the Heather." Their exuberant duet has a raw, unfettered sound and a loose, swinging feel as it evolves over the band's trad-jazz flavored rumble.
Elsewhere on the expectant and cinematic "Black Hole" the wailing saxophones evoke an operatic sense and enhance the dramatic ambience. Pianist Eve Risser's minimalist chimes and angular cascades and percussionist Benjamin Flament's hypnotics clangs and beats create a sublimely otherworldly atmosphere.
Risser manipulates the piano strings and strikes the keys in a haunting improvisation on "From One to Nine." The moody, melancholic and free flowing piano sonata is soon joined by the squawking, popping tenor. The result is a perfectly provocative instrumental dialogue.
Flament's thunderous drums, electrified sound effects and a children's choir from area schools set a dramatic tone to "Maybe." Irabagon and Rifflet tightly weave, fiery yet lyrical lines around the main theme. The song concludes with an ardent climax of energetic spontaneity.
Another tune that showcases a vocal chorus is the Eastern influenced "Fleur De Lis." Flutist Joce Mienniel builds an intriguing and abstract poem filled with primal spirituality while guitarist Philippe Gordiani imbues the intricate harmonic structure with an organic mysticism.
This sumptuously produced album also includes a DVD of a documentary of the concert by filmmaker Arthur Rifflet and informative liner notes. Beyond its physical presentation though, the CD is a superb and thrilling homage to one of 20th centuries uncompromising artistic geniuses. It will go a long way in keeping Moondog's legacy alive.
Oasis; Heat On The Heather; Bird's Lament; Black Hole; From One To Nine; Round Paris;
Aska Me; Fleur De Lis; Maybe; Nero's Expedition; My Tiny Butterfly; From The Jazz Book
No. 2; From The Jazz Book Extended; Santa Fe.
Sylvain Rifflet: clarinet, electronics, tenor saxophone; Jon Irabagon: alto/tenor
saxophone; Benjamin Flament: percussion; Philippe Gordiani: guitar; Joce Mienniel: flute;
Eve Risser: electric harpsichord, piano; children’s choir, consisting of students from
Collège Jean Vilar in La Courneuve, Collège République, Collège Pierre Sémard and Jean
Ziener Conservatory of Music in Bobigny.
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