Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
168

Louis Sclavis: Lost on the Way

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count Views
Louis Sclavis: Lost on the Way 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 tunes later, to a big groove on a deeply rock-tinged, seriously twenty-first century sound on "Des bruits à tisser."

Sclavis' lineup for the set seems, on the surface, a standard jazz grouping: two reeds, bass/guitar/drums. But Sclavis and company don't pretend to be playing anything close to standard jazz. Instead, it is well-crafted and personal music from an artist unafraid to explore fresh sonic ground.

On the web Sclavis tends to be tagged as a free player. While Lost on the Way certainly encompasses a good deal of improvisation, it also sounds quite structured beneath that freedom. The title tune hits a groove, with Matthieu Metzger and Sclavis' unison reed work melding into a modern electronica mood—in spite of the acoustic nature of the instruments—before the leader breaks free on bass clarinet, sounding a bit like Eric Dolphy fronting the seismic trudge of a hard charging rock combo. And when Metzger gets his turn on soprano sax, the energy level cranks up to an even higher level.

"Bain d'or" changes gears, giving off a Celtic vibe, while "Le sommeil des sirènes" opens with François Merville's subtle and very distinct drum ruminations before the alto sax searches and wanders, leading into a ramped up rhythm-team foray, with guitarist Maxime Delpierre giving a frantic, wailing, electro-Banshee voice to Homer's enticing sirens.

Sclavis is the leader, but the strength of his band is the key to the success here, with an adaptive rhythm section fronted by Merville, who can shred with an abandon steeped in finesse, and then move without a beat missed into nuanced comps and accompaniments.

An outstanding set, full of energy, adventure and surprise.


Track Listing: De Charybde en Scylla; La premiére île; Lost on the Way; Bain d'or; Le sommeil des sirènes; L'heure des songes; Aboard Ulysses's Boat; Les doutes du cyclope; Un vent noir; The Last Island; Des bruits à tisser; L'absence.

Personnel: Louis Sclavis: clarinets, soprano saxophone; Matthieu Metzger: soprano and alto saxophones; Maxime Delpierre: guitar; Olivier Lété: bass; François Merville: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop For Jazz

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Silk and Salt Melodies
Silk and Salt Melodies
ECM Records
2015
buy
Silk and Salt Melodies
Silk and Salt Melodies
ECM Records
2014
buy
[no cover]
Chine / Chamber Music
Label Bleu
2013
buy
Sources
Sources
ECM Records
2012
buy
[no cover]
Eldorado Trio
Label Bleu
2010
buy
Lost On The Way
Lost On The Way
ECM Records
2009
buy
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
John Zorn John Zorn
sax, alto
Enrico Rava Enrico Rava
trumpet
Carla Bley Carla Bley
piano
Jimmy Giuffre Jimmy Giuffre
clarinet
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Paul Motian Paul Motian
drums
Thomas Chapin Thomas Chapin
saxophone
Paul Bley Paul Bley
piano

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.