Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

11

Club d'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
The Boston-based collective Club d'Elf seems to attract genre labels like nobody's business. Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz, trance, psychedelia, free jazz, electronica, hip hop, avant-garde, jam band, rock...what other styles have you got? At one point or another any of these labels could apply, but the distinctions are blurred in the joyous sonic stew. The band has hosted a dizzying array of players: their website includes long lists of "Special Guests," "Rotating Cast," and "Occasional Conspirators." But the core group of bassist Mike Rivard (who also plays the sintir, the Gnawan bass lute), drummer Dean Johnston, oudist/percussionist Brahim Fribgane and turntablist Mister Rourke guarantees two things: a solid groove, and a prominent Moroccan music influence.

This version of the band features keyboardist John Medeski and his array of analog instruments. In addition to extended piano and B3 organ solos, he uses electric piano, clavinet and mellotron for color. You don't often hear mellotrons outside of old King Crimson and Moody Blues records. The other guests are frequent session guitarist Duke Levine and New Age flutist Thomas Workman (on two tunes on the second disc of the set).

As the title says, this is a live recording. The two discs are labelled Set One and Set Two, and they very much feel like a document of a performance. The music frequently flows directly from one song to another without pause, the sort of seamless transitions that only experienced improvisers can pull off. The sets each include a couple of group improvisations, compositions by Rivard and Fribgane, and a traditional Moroccan song.

Fribgane's oud is a defining sound, especially in the traditional selections. The most Moroccan tunes, notably "Zeed Al Maal" (which also features Rivard's sintir) barely sound Western at all: evidence of the deep North African part of the group identity. But the reggae cover of Jamaican vocal group Gaylads' "Africa" gives Levine's guitar some time in the spotlight. Fribgane's "Hegaze" features his oud, but also gives plenty of space to Medeski's B3 organ solo—not a standard element in a traditional arrangement.

Club d'Elf gives new meaning to the word "eclectic." But they never sound eclectic for the sake of it. Everything that happens seems to occur organically: no matter where they come from, the musical elements sound like they fit together. So if you like jam bands, Moroccan music, or free improvisation: come on in, the water's fine.

Track Listing: Disc 1: Mogador, Africa, The Booloolu, Hegaz, Secret Atom, Berber Song. Disc 2: Al- Hadra; Zeed Al Maal; Power Plant; Salvia; Green Screen; Sidi Rabi.

Personnel: Mike Rivard: bass, sinter, bass kalimba; Dean Johnston: drums; John Medeski: B3, piano, electric piano, clavinet, mellotron, melodica; . Brahim Fribgane: oud, percussion, voice; Mister Rourke: DJ; Duke Levine: guitar; Thomas Workman: flute (Disc 2: 1, 2).

Title: Live at Club Helsinki | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Face Pelt Records

Tags

Listen

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Download Reviews
From the Inside Out
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Live at Club Helsinki

Live at Club Helsinki

Face Pelt Records
2017

buy
John Medeski, Mellotrons and A Mountain of Majoun

John Medeski,...

Unknown label
2011

buy
Perhapsody Live 10.12.06

Perhapsody Live...

Kufala Recordings
2008

buy
Now I Understand

Now I Understand

Accurate Records
2007

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Feb22Fri
Club d'Elf
Lizard Lounge
Cambridge, MA
Mar8Fri
Club d'Elf
Lizard Lounge
Cambridge, MA

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Paint The Sky Album Reviews
Paint The Sky
By Andrew J. Sammut
February 21, 2019
Read God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be Album Reviews
God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be
By Karl Ackermann
February 21, 2019
Read Rhyme And Reason Album Reviews
Rhyme And Reason
By Mark Corroto
February 21, 2019
Read The Definition of Insanity Album Reviews
The Definition of Insanity
By Nicholas F. Mondello
February 21, 2019
Read Omhu Album Reviews
Omhu
By Jakob Baekgaard
February 21, 2019
Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Karl Ackermann
February 20, 2019
Read Gary Album Reviews
Gary
By Dan McClenaghan
February 20, 2019