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Club d'Elf: Night Sparkles

Read "Night Sparkles" reviewed by Doug Collette

Night Sparkles follows bassist/sintirist Mike Rivard on his continuing adventures into the “Moroccan-based psychedelic dub" style he initiated with Club D'Elf in the 1990s. It's altogether remarkable he's managed to formulate such a novel approach to improvisational music while juggling the near-perpetual rotating cast of personnel, but it is to the great credit of the titular leader that his stewardship encourages invention from his bandmates, whoever they may be (in the not so recent past, keyboardist John Medeski and guitarist ...

RADIO

NY Free Quartet, Michael Gregory Jackson & Marc Jufer

Read "NY Free Quartet, Michael Gregory Jackson & Marc Jufer" reviewed by Maurice Hogue

There's a wide variety of great tunes this episode: Club D'Elf kicks it off with the title track to their latest live set, saxophonist Muriel Grossmann and her quartet acknowledge the musical and mystical paths of John Coltrane, the New York Free Quartet's Dream Time marks their return to releasing excellent work, and the very influential guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson's latest debuts. There's more, of course, from Swiss tenor player Marc Jufer and trio, and the Frenchmen Stéphan Oliva and ...

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Club d'Elf: Night Sparkles

Read "Night Sparkles" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

For the Boston, Massachusetts-based Club d'Elf, the boundaries are long gone; they may never have been there to start with. Almost twenty years ago, the group debuted with Live at The Lizard Lounge (Grapeshot Media, 2000), an amalgam of jazz, electronica, hip hop, and funk. At times, the group (always a fluid entity) has included accordion, oud, didgeridoo, doumbek and qaraqab standing comfortably next to guitars, bass, keyboards, and horns. If it weren't obvious from the instrumentation, this is not ...

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Club d'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki

Read "Live at Club Helsinki" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

Club d'Elf and their sprawling live records present a unique challenge to folks who write about them. This double Live at Club Helsinki set reveals every modern style and multiple Moroccan rhythms (except for opera and bluegrass--maybe). But often we want so much to relate or explain these sounds, and there's so much going on in so many different combinations, that our explanations eventually grow so complicated that they lose their soul. Soulless is no way to address this music. ...

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Club d'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki

Read "Live at Club Helsinki" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

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 ...

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Club d'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki

Read "Live at Club Helsinki" reviewed by Doug Collette

It's not really necessary to be a dervish dancer to appreciate Club d'Elf, especially because, on Live at Club Helsinki, the prominence of varied sounds from Duke Levine's electric guitars, combined with the keyboard wizardry of John Medeski, is enough to capture and hold the attention of (almost) any contemporary music-lover. It's as effortless to fall into a dreamlike trance as a visceral spell in response to these extend Moroccan-influenced grooves. The cumulative intensity, however, is almost indiscernible, ...

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Club d'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki

Read "Live at Club Helsinki" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Who (and what) defines the Boston-based, dub-jazz Club d'Elf is an enigma. At the core, the “group" is bassist and composer Mike Rivard and drummer Dean Johnston. Rivard has far-flung history ranging from Either-Orchestra to the Boston Pops Orchestra and the cult rock group Morphine. Johnston had perused a career in the Athens, Georgia music scene before returning to the Northeast. Club d'Elf is as much a performance entity as a musical group and with each performance, the surrounding sphere ...

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Club d'Elf: Fire in the Brain Live at Berklee

Read "Fire in the Brain Live at Berklee" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

"To thine own self be true" is a reliable expression, and few band biographies are more true to their subject than the official label writeup on the marvelously twisted Club d'Elf: “Circling about bassist/composer Mike Rivard (Morphine, Either-Orchestra, Guster, Boston Pops), D'Elf is a constellation of top musicians from the jazz, DJ, rock and world music scenes of jny: Boston and NYC who get in the groove and proceed to blow it up." Fire in the Brain presents ...

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Club d'Elf: Electric Moroccoland / So Below

Read "Electric Moroccoland / So Below" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

Even in our far-reaching and cluttered modern musical culture, it seems safe to suggest that there is no other band quite like Club d'Elf, a floating riverboat gamble with a fluid cast of contributors--keyboardist John Medeski, guitarists Reeves Gabrels and Duke Levin, Mat Maneri on electric viola, turntablist Mister Rourke, and many others among them--steered by bassist Mike Rivard and Rivard's longtime co-explorer, multi-instrumentalist and musicologist Brahim Fribgane. Electric Moroccoland, the first disc in the new two-CD ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Medeski, Mellotrons and A Mountain of Majoun

Read "John Medeski, Mellotrons and A Mountain of Majoun" reviewed by Chris May

Club D'ElfElectric Moroccoland / So BelowFace Pelt Records2011 Boston-based Club D'Elf describes itself as a “Moroccan-dosed psychedelic dub and jazz collective." It is the sort of band that gives self-medication a good name, and it will reconfigure your synapses, in a good way, if you let it. Founded by bassist Mike Rivard in 1998, the group has a rolling line-up of jazz, avant rock and Moroccan trance players ...

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Club d'Elf: Perhapsody Live 10.12.06

Read "Perhapsody Live 10.12.06" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

A floating ensemble in every best sense of the word, Club d'Elf is tethered to bassist Mike Rivard and the more or less house rhythm section from Rivard's extended residency at the Lizard Lounge, a progressive if not experimental music club in Boston. After releasing numerous live albums--the best laboratory for their mainly improvised, genre-munching music--they released their first studio album, Now I Understand (Accurate), in late 2006. What did they do at their studio album release party? Why, perform ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Club d'Elf: Perhapsody: Live 10-12-06

Read "Perhapsody: Live 10-12-06" reviewed by Doug Collette

Perhapsody, the seventh in a series of live releases by Club d'Elf, contains extended tracks like “Salvia Pt. 1" and “Jar of Hair," where the music ebbs and flows with a passion derived from the spontaneity of the bandïs interactions. Meanwhile, the absolutely impeccable quality of the recording maintains that heat of the moment rather than nullifying it.

Certainly the excitement level was high in the venue at this autumn, 2006 release party for Club d'Elf's long-awaited studio recording Now ...


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