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Richard “Dickie” Landry

Composer, Saxophonist, Photographer, Painter.

         Born in Cecilia, Louisiana in 1938 began his musical training at the age of six when he joined the St. Joseph Catholic Church Choir singing Gregorian Chant for several years seven days a week.  Landry picked up the saxophone at age ten and continued the journey that would take him places far removed from the small town in St. Martin Parish where he was raised. After attending what is presently known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he majored in music education, Landry taught for two years in the rural community of Chataignier in St. Landry parish.  Restless and tired of playing in a blue-eyed soul band, The Swing Kings, in 1969 Landry moved to New York City to broaden his musical horizons and hopefully find some work.

         The avant-garde art scene in New York City was about to explode after a period of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Landry soon fell in with a crowd of artists, musicians, dancers and theater people that included Keith Sonnier, Robert Rauschenberg, Gordon Matta-Clark, Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Susan Rothenberg, Nancy Graves, Spalding Grey, Joan Jonas, Richard Serra, Mabou Mines, Chuck Close, Robert Wilson, Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth, Bruce Nauman, Trisha Brown, Deborah Hay, Mary Heilman and others who are now considered visionaries in their respective fields. It was at this time that Landry took up photography, not as an art form but simply to supplement his income. When not playing music, he would be hired by his newfound artist friends to help with their performances, installations and exhibits. He would ask if he could take pictures, not thinking of documenting anything – it was just a way to make extra money. He took his camera everywhere and became quite proficient at printing, using the same intense focus he would also apply to his music. Little did he know all these years later that he would amass a singular collection of photographs that would document the New York art scene of the 1970’s from a unique insider’s perspective.

         In the meantime, Landry’s first concert in NYC was in 1972 at the Leo Castelli Gallery with a group of ex-patriots from Louisiana.  That same year he began presenting his work in solo concerts on tenor saxophone, pioneering the use of a quadraphonic delay system that allowed him to form a live quintet of his own voicing (his original sound plus four timed delayed repeats). Since then he has given concerts in the USA, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Cuba, Haiti, Japan, South America, Taiwan and India. The most noteworthy of these concerts being the Festival d'Automne, Paris; Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels; Stadlijk Museum, Munich; Sao Bento Cathedral, Sao Paulo; The Retreat, Ahmedabad, India; and the Rufino Tamayo Museum, Mexico City.

         In the United States Landry has performed in major concert halls, art galleries, museums, universities and churches. The list includes: Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, The Kitchen, Metropolitan Opera House, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Leo Castelli Gallery, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery, Washington, DC as well as the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City.  Landry often performs in the South including New Orleans Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Center and New Orleans Jazz Festival in Louisiana, and in Houston, Texas at The Fine Arts Museum, Rice University, Rothko Chapel, Contemporary Art Museum and The New Music America Festival in Houston, Texas and Miami, Florida.

         In addition to Landry's solo career, he has collaborated with other composers, artists and choreographers.  In 1969 he was a founding member of the original group that formed the Philip Glass Ensemble and performed with the ensemble till 1981. He was on all concerts, tours and recordings of that period including Einstein on the Beach, an opera by Robert Wilson and Glass, which is widely credited as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century.  He has also worked with David Byrne of the Talking Heads on the Speaking in Tongues (Slippery People) album for which he received a Gold Record Award.  In 1984 Landry began collaboration with Laurie Anderson at the Next Wave Festival in Set/Reset with choreographer Trisha Brown and artist Robert Rauschenberg. This collaboration continued with his inclusion in Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak tour of America and Japan.  These efforts culminated in the feature film production of Home of the Brave and the CD of the same name. Landry has collaborated with artists Keith Sonnier, Lawrence Weiner, Chuck Close and Richard Serra and received commissioned works from choreographers Babs Case, Trisha Brown, Deborah Hay and Jane Comfort.

         In 1986 Landry invited Paul Simon to Louisiana to work with local Zydeco musicians. This resulted in the song That Was Your Mother on the album Graceland for which Landry was awarded a Gold & Multi-Platinum sales award record. Recently Landry collaborated with the successful Lafayette based rock band Givers performing the Simon song for the upcoming 25th anniversary tribute to the album Graceland.

         Landry performed in Mexico, Cuba, Russia and the National Gallery in Washington, DC for the openings of Rauschenberg's Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI) world exhibition tour.  He also performed at many of Rauschenberg’s gallery and museum openings.  In 2009, Landry performed for Robert Rauschenberg’s Memorial Services in Fort Myers, Florida, the Aratani/Japan American Theatre in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum Egyptian Room in New York City.  

         After moving back to Louisiana in 1995, Landry, along with C.C. Adcock and Steve Riley, formed an all-star Swamp-Pop band, Lil’ Band o' Gold, with legendary Swamp-Pop singer and drummer, Warren Storm. The band is still going strong to this day with successful tours of the US, England, New Zealand and Australia under their belts. At the 2003 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Bob Dylan invited Landry to play with the band – not just as a guest performer for a couple of songs, but Dylan’s whole two and half hour set.  In May 2007, Landry recorded two songs along with Lil Band o’ Gold with Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) for Goin’ Home, a Fats Domino Tribute two CD set. Landry performed with Zydeco musician, Terrance Simien, at the 2008 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, where Simien walked away with the first ever Zydeco / Cajun Grammy.  2014, Terrance walks off with his second Grammy.  Landry acted as manager for the first 5 years of Simien’s career.

         Landry performed his Solo for Robert Wilson’s production of Grace for Grace at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1991.  The years 2009 and 2010 found Landry working with Robert Wilson, Ornette Coleman, Mei-Yun Tang and the U Theatre from Taipei on a musical theatre production inspired by the story of Admiral Zheng He, which portrays the travels of this 15th century Chinese navigator and explorer. 1433, The Grand Voyage opened Feb. 20th, 2010 as part of the Taiwan International Festival at the National Theatre in Taipei.

         In 2012, Landry performed a Solo concert in tribute to the late sculptor John Chamberlian at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  At the same time he had an exhibition of his artwork at the Salomon Contemporary Gallery. Lil Band o’ Gold opened for Robert Plant’s summer 2013 southern tour.

         At the young age of 75, Landry’s career is still very much in the ascendant. He heads to Paris at the end of February, 2014 to compose the music for an upcoming Robert Wilson production of a play by Jean Genet entitled Le Nègres, (The Blacks), A Clown Show. Landry will perform Solo at the Hilliard Museum in May, before heading back to Paris at the end of August to complete production of Le Nègres at the Odeon Theater opening October 3rd.

Selected Recordings:

 

"Solos” 1972, Chatham Sq. Records

"Four Cuts Placed In” 1973, Chatham Sq. Records

“Having Been Built On Sand" 1974, Richard Landry/Lawrence Weiner

“Fifteen Saxophones” 1977, Wergo Specturm

“Fifteen Saxophones” reissue of 1974 recordings 2011 Unseen Worlds,

“Mass for Pentecost Sunday” 1986 Serious Music

 

Selected Recordings with other artist:

 

"Music with Changing Parts" 1970, with Philip Glass

"Similar Motion" 1971, with Philip Glass

"Music in Twelve Parts" (Parts 1 & 2) 1974, with Philip Glass

"North Star" 1975, with Philip Glass

“Music in Fifths” 1975 with Philip Glass

"Einstein on the Beach" 1976, with Philip Glass

"Speaking in Tongues" 1983, with Talking Heads

"Innocent" 1984, with Peter Gordon

"These Things Happen" 1984, with David van Teighem

“Causal Gods” with Jerry Harrison 1986

"Home of the Brave" 1984, with Laurie Anderson

"Graceland" 1986, with Paul Simon

"Safety in Numbers" 1987, with David van Teighem

“Lil Band o’ Gold” 2002 with Warren Storm, C.C. Adcock, Steve Reily

“Creole Reggae” with True Man Posse 2003

“Frigg A Go Go” 2003 with Frigg

“Fats Domino Tribute” “Goin’ Home” with Robert Plant/Lil Band o’ Gold 2007

 “The Promised Land” Lil Band o’ Gold DVD Documentary & CD 2009

“Big Pink” 2010

“Creole Moon” Cedric Watson Grammy Nominated 2010

“David Eagan” David Egan 2013                                     “Downtown Rockers” Tom Tom Club 2013                                                                 “Love, Food, Sex, Piece with Bas Clas 2014                          “Black Staccato” Makers Reel 2014

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"Dickie Landry’s exhibition tracks a remarkable group of artists from 1969 to 1979 and documents a decade that placed new emphasis on revealing process and probing new sights and sounds and materials.

Himself a soulful player of the saxophone and a willing participant with some of those that were his peers, starting with the decade he now memorializes with this many-faceted exhibition moving from jazz to the new music lushness of Philip Glass’ rigorously structured and soulful geometries to Richard Serra’s and Keith Sonnier’s engagement with non-art materials and structures to Gordon Matta-Clark’s vivid deconstructions of architecture to the epic that emerged out of Robert Wilson’s and Philip Glass’ partnership in the epic Einstein on the Beach to the senior William Burroughs twisting and turning a basic English vocabulary into previously unheard of grottoes of drug-fueled mystery to Joan Jonas’ re-exploration of narrative that had long been banned from the avant-garde stage to Christopher Knowles the young protégé of 

Robert Wilson who could seldom enter a room without spreading some high jinks about such as a chorus of alarm clocks each set to go off in a different place and time to the underground blind musician Moondog who droned away almost every day on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-fifth in his Viking drag and often ended the day in Glass’ apartment where he was provided with a meal and a cigar but not with the woman he frequently asked for, to the German sculptor Ulrich Rückreim who managed to infuse poetry into aloof boulders to Bruce Nauman who measured himself with the dance of his limbs to Lucinda Childs who was literally and figuratively walking into dance and Nancy Graves who wanted to ride the animals in African jungles before activating artificial limbs to animate their stance. Camels became her calling card.

These words can only modestly introduce the still-fresh abundance of new dance, narrative and form making that so passionately unites these artists." 

- Klaus Kertess

Exhibits

Hilliard Museum of Art Lafayette, Louisiana May 3rd till January 8th, 2014-15'

Anke Schmidt Gallery Cologne, Germany September - October, 2114

James Salomon Contemporary NYC Feb. 26th till March 26, 2015

University Art Museum of Wyoming at Laramie September 18th till December 18th, 2015

Center for the Arts at Jackson Hole, Wyoming Oct. 8th - Nov. 13, 2016

                                                   Fort Ganesvoort Gallery New York City May 5th - July 6th 2016

                                           PS1 40th Anniversary Long Island City, NY June 19th - August 28th 2016

All photographs ©Richard Landry