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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

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After reinventing himself with a completely revamped ensemble on Sources (ECM, 2012), reed multi-instrumentalist Louis Sclavis expands the purviews and possibilities of his Atlas Trio by adding percussionist Keyvan Chemirani to the mix for Silk and Salt Melodies. Sclavis has, in his 33-year career as a leader--and since coming to ECM Records in 1991 with the recording of Rouge (1992)--made a life's work of regular reinvention, both contextually in terms of lineup and stylistically through a broad cross-section of projects ranging from the fully unplugged, improv-heavy but still composition-based Acoustic Quartet (1994) and image-inspired blend of form and freedom on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

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With its ancient roots and latter-day association with New Orleans, Dixieland and swing, the clarinet isn't often a frontline instrument in modern jazz let alone avant-garde. A handful of players such as Don Byron and Marty Ehrlich have aided in its prominence but not many. In the hands of Louis Sclavis the bass clarinet is not only a deterrent against conformist thinking; it is an instrument with greatly expanded borders and characteristics. Sclavis incorporates European chamber music, Middle-Eastern samazens and free jazz in his ambitious and literate compositions. Silk and Salt Melodies speaks to Sclavis' years of shaping a world ...

INTERVIEWS

Louis Sclavis: Maps of the Mind

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"My music? I know what it is, and I don't know what it is. It's a paradox." Now entering his fifth decade as a recording artist, multi-reedist/composer Louis Sclavis may not have a clear handle on the music he makes, but he has absorbed the lessons of all the music he has turned his hand to, from free jazz to film scores, from African music to neoclassical composition. Listening to Sources (2012), Sclavis' ninth release on the ECM label--and his first with his exciting new Atlas Trio--what is most striking is how, after all these years, Sclavis refuses to revisit ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio: Sources

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Multi-reedist, composer and improviser Louis Sclavis' ninth release for ECM sees this eternally restless seeker of new sounds and textures heading once more into personally unchartered territory; this is the first time Sclavis has led a trio of clarinet, guitar and piano. In guitarist Gilles Coronado and pianist Benjamin Mouassy, Sclavis has recruited open-minded musicians with the technique, discipline and imagination necessary to give life to his sketches of musical ideas, where formal structure and free rein co-exist in such close symbiosis that the two are not always easily distinguishable. Contemporary classical ruminations, pulsing funk, subtle European and North African ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio: Sources

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It's not uncommon for artists to shake things up by changing personnel to explore roads previously untraveled, but few push themselves so relentlessly into new territory through revamped instrumentation as Louis Sclavis. Still, since coming to ECM with the auspicious Rouge (1992), the French clarinetist/saxophonist has always maintained continuity between recordings--cellist Vincent Courtois carried over from Dans La Nuit (2002) to Napoli's Walls (2003), and percussionist François Merville showing up on L'imparfait des langues (2007) and Lost Along the Way (2009) five years after Dans La Nuit. With Atlas Trio's Sources, however, the ever-searching Sclavis eschews all past ECM affiliations ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aki Takase / Louis Sclavis: Yokohama

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Aki Takase is making a real burden for herself with this the latest in her hopefully ongoing series of Intakt releases. With every successive one it's not just a simple matter of the quality going up but rather a matter of different facets of her ability being revealed. As these releases have all been documents of duos, the effect is almost rhetorical, as if she's intent on making a case for that sparse setting and what can be achieved in it.

There's diversity within that body of work too, just as there is within this program. Louis Sclavis' modest raft ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis: Lost On The Way

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Clash of the jazz titans! Miles Davis famously remarked that the late Eric Dolphy played “like someone was standing on his feet." An uncharacteristically bad bit of timing for Davis: his comments appeared in print just after the tragically early death of the great multi-reedsman in 1964. Many years later, it is possible both to find Davis's comment kind of true and pretty funny, while still loving Dolphy's music.Louis Sclavis has subtly, and probably unwittingly, bridged the divide between the two jazz giants on the best parts of Lost on the Way. From Dolphy, Sclavis and his confreres ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis: Lost on the Way

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French multi-reedist Louis Sclavis has involved himself in many modes of musical expression during a career which has spanned over 30 years, from free to folk to Baroque, and into the contemporary realm. His jazz perspective is European, which perhaps means having something of a chamber approach, and not much rooting in the blues--not unusual for an artist recording on the German-based ECM label.On Lost on the Way, Sclavis and his quintet turn to the Greek writer Homer for a musical journey that begins with a gypsy atmosphere on “De Charybde en Scylla" and winds its way, ten ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis: Lost on the Way

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Over the course eight albums, French clarinetist/saxophonist Louis Sclavis has carved his own niche on ECM. Every album possesses a different complexion--from the acoustic free play of Acoustic Quartet (1994) and aggressively open-ended variations of composer Jean-Phillip Rameau's work on Les Violences de Rameau (1996) to the more structured soundtrack for Charles Vanel's 1929 film, Dans La Nuit (2002) and outstanding writing on the oftentimes knotty but always captivating L'affrontement des prétendants (2001). As different as each project is--including 2007's L'imparfait des langues, where Sclavis largely surrounded himself with first encounter players--the woodwind multi-instrumentalist has managed to evolve a very ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis: L'imparfait des langues

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L'imparfait des langues represents an attempt by reedman Louis Sclavis to challenge himself compositionally by incorporating new features into his working musical vocabulary while increasing the level of unpredictability. The resulting work is, perhaps surprisingly, the closest thing to a “jazz" album that he has produced. While encouraging change, Sclavis nevertheless has a style that is hard to define, but recognizable with familiarity. A discernible Sclavis habit is to change instrumentation and musicians from record to record in his ECM catalogue, with only a few but noticeable overlapping players. However, the inclusion of a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carlos Barretto Trio / Louis Sclavis: Radio Song

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Portuguese bassist Carlos Barretto's 2002 recording Radio Song was originally released on the obscure CBTM label. Reissued by Clean Feed, this edition complements his 2004 album Lokomotiv (Clean Feed) with a session of highly charged, free-wheeling post-bop, spiced with traditional Portuguese folk melodies.

Barretto's resume is filled with stints accompanying Mal Waldron, Barry Altschul, Don Moye, Karl Berger and Steve Lacy, among others. A stalwart bassist and a magnanimous leader, he contributes selflessly to the trio, providing ample space for his band members' solo excursions. His phrasing is subtly prudent, never prone to flashy excess, even during his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carlos Barretto Trio / Louis Sclavis: Radio Song

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Originally released by the relatively obscure CBTM label and newly issued for this top-shelf progressive-jazz entity, we find Portuguese bassist Carlos Barretto pronouncing an up-tempo set which, in part, serves as a testament to his country's fertile jazz scene. And with wider distribution, this well-rounded endeavor could find its way onto many of those year-end top-ten lists.

It's a rock solid set on all fronts as highly-revered French multi-reed artist Louis Sclavis lends his wares on three works. On the opening piece titled “Distresser, Barretto lays down a booming groove that sets the parameters for guitarist Mario Delgado ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis: L'imparfait des langues

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Music has long been considered a universal language, with a syntactical potential as broad as the artists who create it. While it's not always easy to articulate in non-musical terms, it's the specific way concept is translated into sound that distinguishes any artist. Clarinetist/saxophonist Louis Sclavis has yet to record two albums for ECM with the same lineup, but on L'imparfait des langues he's intentionally placed himself in unknown territory by assembling a new group with whom (drummer François Merville aside) he's had minimal, if any, prior exposure. The result is an album that expands Sclavis' language without losing the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis / Bernard Struber Jazztet: Le Phare

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Though it was originally released in Europe in 1998, now is perhaps a better time for French clarinetist/saxophonist Louis Sclavis' 1998 collaboration with guitarist Bernard Struber's thirteen-piece Jazztet, Le Phare, in North America. With a series of critically acclaimed albums on the ECM label, including L'Affrontement des Prétendents (2001) and Napoli's Walls (2004)--and an outstanding collaboration with trumpeter Dave Douglas on Bow River Falls (Premonition, 2004)--Sclavis' combination of detailed composition and avant-edged improvisation is finally reaching a North American audience that had largely ignored him earlier in his career.

Emerging on the scene in the mid-1980s, Sclavis worked with artists ...



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