Club D'Elf: 100 Years of Flight & Live

Celeste Sunderland By

Sign in to view read count
I'm pretty certain the geometric, polychromatic designs on the Club d'Elf album covers are meant to be stared at while listening. Because if your eyes linger long enough, the patterns propel into motion.

Club d'Elf
100 Years of Flight (12/18/2003)
Live (5/26/2004)
Kufala Recordings

With a shifting lineup, the group's latest two releases, 100 Years of Flight , recorded at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge last December, and Live , recorded last May at Tonic, each contain two discs, representing one set each from the entire two-hour show from each night. Gargantuan blocks of sound shift past each other, gliding by nonchalantly, or bouncing gently against an angle, a crook in the sonic structure and flying awkwardly, spastically into another dimension. These sounds aren't in typical jazz or rock repertoire. They're a whacked-out-of- your-mind fusion that borrows inspiration as much from '50s beatniks and '70s jazz/rock pioneers as it does from underground techno-drones of tomorrow's messed up world.

Live is the considerably tighter of the two, perhaps due to an added electronic element provided by turntables, but 100 Years is not without its pleasures. Mellow, moody tracks create a basement-happening environment that starts out inconspicuous but ends up raunchy. During "Fire In The Brain," Dave Tronzo's reverberating effects on slide guitar set the wheels in motion for the trancelike stupor. Erik Kerr's drums keep a tight lock on the beat during Tronzo's wild, psychedelic solo that breaks into Mike Rivard's flurried bass line before capping off with another solo on guitar, this one frighteningly furious. The title track incorporates a schizophrenic percussive mash into a thick, instrumental congestion, all navigated by Mat Maneri's groaning electric viola.

Rivard writes cute rhythms like in "Dream Wanderer Pt. 2" where Maneri's plucking drips over an earthy bass tone. A primal element enters on "Al Aita", the last tune on the first disc, when Lotfi Tiken breaks the electronic diatribe by offering his voice—maybe a little out of place after the wall of improvisational instrumentation we've just been bombarded with, or a happy respite from the churning repetition that was beginning to grind on the brain.

The addition of a DJ (Mister Rourke) and exemplary percussionist Brahim Fribgane brings the group to a lofty new stratum on Live. With Marc Ribot taking over on guitar, Adam Deitch on drums, John Medeski adding keyboards and a horn section on several tracks, sumptuous textures ensue.

Medeski's keys create crystalline sounds toward the end of "Bass Beatbox" that whisper of angelic harp strings. Funky guitar riffs surface on the second track "Scorpionic" and the horns join the procession of troubadours merry for mayhem. Fribgane breaks out the oud and sings with a Middle Eastern tinge on "Sidi Rabi" joining the ancient with the futuristic. Non-stop jam after non-stop jam erupts into jarring techno-jazz then dissolves into dreamy diaphanous bubble-bobble on "Big Light In Sky." Nine minutes into the tune, guitar notes ring while horns fade into the underbelly and scratching vinyl wipes out the sickly gull calls of some electro-effect. It's a new era for fusion.

100 Years of Flight (12/18/2003, Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA)

Tracks: Disc 1 (Set 1) (65:18): 1. Introduction (0:48); 2. 100 Years Of Flight (16:37); 3. Fire In The Brain (18:41); 4. Jar Of Hair (7:26); 5. Big Light In Sky (4:50); 6. Dream Wanderer Pt. 2 (7:00); 7. Mogador (2:31); 8. Al Aita (7:22). Disc 2 (Set 2) (57:22): 1. Sabbath (13:49); 2. Cave Man/Actual Smiles (15:04); 3. Stripey Hole (3:49); 4. Bass Beatbox (12:12); 5. End Of Firpo (6:08); 6. Instar (6:13).
Personnel: Dave Tronzo: Slide Guitar; Mat Maneri: Electric Viola; Mike Rivard: Electric & Acoustic Basses; Erik Kerr: Drums. w/ Lotfi Tiken, Voice, Bendir & Karakab (disc 1: 6-8).

Live (5/26/2004, Tonic, NYC)

Tracks: Disc 1 (Set 1) (57:14): 1. Bass Beatbox (15:23); 2. Scorpionic (14:21); 3. Berber Song (6:57); 4. You All Over Me (6:55); 5. Berber Song Reprise (1:50); 6. Challaban (12:52). Disc 2 (Set 2) (79:21): 1. Dream Wanderer (12:57); 2. The Tingler (16:03); 3. Big Light In Sky (13:18); 4. As Above (7:52); 5. Trance Meeting (7:14); 6. Sidi Rabi (12:31); 7. [Encore] Between (9:16).
Personnel: Marc Ribot: Guitar; Brahim Fribgane: Oud, Percussion, Voice; John Medeski: Keyboards; Mister Rourke: Turntables; Mike Rivard: Electric & Acoustic Basses, Sintir; Adam Deitch: Drums. w/ Eric Hipp: Tenor Sax & Curtis Hasselbring: Trombone (disc 1, tracks 2-5; disc 2, track 2-5); Josh Roseman: Trombone (disc 2, tracks 3-4); Richard Zukowski: Voice (disc 2, track 7).


More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Two  Scandinavian Jazz Orchestras" Multiple Reviews Two Scandinavian Jazz Orchestras
by John Eyles
Published: May 23, 2016
Read "Emanem Tidies Up" Multiple Reviews Emanem Tidies Up
by John Eyles
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Two  contrasting releases from Stefan Thut" Multiple Reviews Two contrasting releases from Stefan Thut
by John Eyles
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "Three from Henry Kaiser on Balance Point Acoustics" Multiple Reviews Three from Henry Kaiser on Balance Point Acoustics
by John Eyles
Published: May 11, 2016
Read "John David Souther: Black Rose and Home By Dawn" Multiple Reviews John David Souther: Black Rose and Home By Dawn
by Doug Collette
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Paul G. Smyth: Weekertoft downloads" Multiple Reviews Paul G. Smyth: Weekertoft downloads
by John Eyles
Published: September 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!