Perhapsody, the seventh in a series of live releases by Club d'Elf, contains extended tracks like "Salvia Pt. 1" and "Jar of Hair," where the music ebbs and flows with a passion derived from the spontaneity of the bandïs interactions. Meanwhile, the absolutely impeccable quality of the recording maintains that heat of the moment rather than nullifying it.
Certainly the excitement level was high in the venue at this autumn, 2006 release party for Club d'Elf's long-awaited studio recording Now I Understand(Accurate, 2006), convened by bandleader, bassist and Boston music scene mainstay Mike Rivard. Thankfully, there is no intrusive sound included from the audience, but it's a safe bet those in attendance were mesmerized, as will most anyone who listens to even a section of either of these two discs.
No doubt keyboardist John Medeski is a galvanizing force and perhaps a catalyst for the group's own latent talents (not to mention a selling point for the marketing of Perhapsodyon its decidedly independent terms). Yet while Medeski's Wurlitzer solo on "Life of the Mind" seethes with as much rhythm as melody, he's not the star of the proceedings. No single musician here is, precisely because the music regularly shifts direction and does it so imperceptibly. Club d'Elf commands attention because it's impossible to tell where it will go next on tunes like "Goblin Garden." Meanwhile, the band retains attention by the way it integrates diverse ideas in the arrangements.
Because Club d'Elf takes inspiration from sources musical (prog, the arguable antithesis of jazz) and non-musical (horror cinema), the density of the music manifests a deeply cerebral element. Yet rhythm patterns, as displayed on the title song, not only carry a visceral impact all their own, they link ideas together as on "That Is My Voice." The impromptu playing of such cut results in composing credit for the entire unit (Club D'Elf plays uninterrupted sets), but more importantly because of the way, in over twelve minutes, the band maintains the flow of the music. The way the unit slows to a sweet soft close on Rivard's "Sand" sounds so logical, it's as if they could've ended up nowhere else and gotten there no other way.
Dave Tronzo's guitar on "The Tingler" enacts a dialogue with Medeski's organ in an adaptation of a native Moroccan tune, "Berber Song." In their own way, the turntable and horn sounds, by Soulive collaborators Mister Rourke and saxophonist Sam Kininger respectively, supply complementary textures and effects. "Intro/Bass Beatbox" is a synthesis emblematic of the collective mind at work here.
Music as fodder for dance and meditation, Perhapsody fits the broadest definition of jazz while not being hamstrung by its conventions. As such it represents the natural evolution of the genre as well as the band that writes, plays and records it.
Personnel: Mike Rivard: electric bass, acoustic bass, electronic tamboura, acoustic bass, sintir; Dave Tronzo: slide guitar, prepared guitar; Duke Levine: guitar, electric sitar; Mister Rourke: turntables; John Medeski: keyboards; Erik Kerr: drums; Tom Hall: tenor saxophone; Tom Halter: trumpet.