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...

28

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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 Napoli's Walls (2002), to more fully structured endeavors like Dans La Nuit (2000), a soundtrack to Charles Vanel's silent movie of the same name.

Retitled from Atlas Trio to Louis Sclavis Quartet, the clarinetist and sometimes soprano saxophonist once again focuses exclusively on the wooden reed instrument but, if returning keyboardist Benjamin Moussay and guitarist Gilles Coronado continue to explore broader textures with effects and/or electronic instruments, there are less sonic extremes and more emphasis on natural timbres on Silk and Salt Melodies; even when Coronado employs a touch of distortion or a bit of reverb, it's more restrained, making the record feel more intrinsically organic. The addition of Chemirani provides a more decided pulse that frees his newfound quartet mates from having to pull double or triple duty, though every member of the group still helps propel the music forward, whether it's through Sclavis' serpentine melodies on tracks like the Middle Eastern- inflected opener, "Le parfum de l''éxil," or the similarly labyrinthine, more Indo-centric "Sel et Soie," where the composer delivers his most exhilarating bass clarinet solo of the set, driven by the remarkably expansive colors of Chemirani's zarb, a Persian goblet drum also known as tombak, donbak , dombak or tompak.

Some composers write for the specific musicians in a group; others write music and then search for the right musicians to interpret it. In Sclavis' case, he's been on both sides of the table, but with Atlas Trio and now Louis Sclavis Quartet it's clear that his writing is intended to exploit the unequivocal strengths of his band mates and their growing chemistry. Following Sclavis' aforementioned impressive work on "Sel et Soie," Coronado takes a solo that clearly wears the influence of Bill Frisell on his sleeve in terms of sparsity, texture and a sublime interlocking of linear phrasing with shifting harmonies, but speaks with his own voice in the less idiosyncratic, more direct approach to creating melodies that are filled with both surprise and persistent beauty. A zarb/guitar duet opens "Dance for Horses" on a more angular note, made all the more appropriate when Sclavis and Moussay enter for one the album's knottiest thematic constructs.

Sclavis' quartet has plenty of harmonic options available, given the chordal nature of two of its instruments, and the clarinetist isn't averse to exploring such opportunities—Moussay's pianistic support of Sclavis' solo on "Dance for Horses" being redolent of Oregon, quite paradoxically, at its most oblique and lyrical, before the pianist takes a more driving solo bolstered by Coronado's gradually intensifying and overdriven supporting lines and Chemirani's increasingly thrusting rhythms. Still, an overriding interest in Central Asia means that Silk and Salt Melodies relies heavily on linearity. Between the two, however, it's a heady mix that allows for music that is, in turns, unrelentingly potent and gently atmospheric.

If Sclavis' career has been marked by an ongoing desire for evolution, growth and change, it's all the more remarkable, then, that he continues to put out album after album of perpetually excellent music, performed by largely unknown musicians who regularly beg the question "where does he find them?" Whatever the answer, with Silk and Salt Melodies, Sclavis has once again delivered an outstanding album where unfettered expressionism finds the perfect meeting place with structural constructs that continue to surprise and delight.

Track Listing: Le parfum de l’éxil; L’homme sud; L’autre rive; Sel et soie; Dance For Horses; Des feux lointains; Cortège; Dust And Dogs; Prato plage.

Personnel: Louis Sclavis: clarinet; Gilles Coronado: guitar; Benjamin Moussay: piano, keyboard; Keyvan Chemirani: percussion.

Title: Silk and Salt Melodies | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

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

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Read more articles
Asian Fields Variations

Asian Fields...

ECM Records
2017

buy
Sources

Sources

ECM Records
2012

buy
 

Eldorado Trio

Label Bleu
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019