March 20, 2011 Global a Go Go Club d’Elf | Electric Moroccoland/So Below By Bill Lupoletti

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Club d'Elf is the brainchild of Boston-based bass guitarist Mike Rivard. It's an improvisation-driven project (a jam band, if you will) whose floating membership includes some of Boston's finest jazz and rock musicians: organist John Medeski, violinist Mat Maneri, guitarists David Tronzo and David “Fuze” Fiuczynski. Rivard's old friend Mark Sandman (Morphine) turned him on to Moroccan gnawa trance music years ago, and Rivard has been steering Club d'Elf more in that direction in recent years – this is his first album of nothing but Moroccan-based material, and he's drafted some expert players for the effort, including Hassan Hakmoun and Brahim Fribgane. For my personal taste, there's too much prog-rock noodling on some of these tracks, but the band really clicks into overdrive on two unlikely covers, Cream's “Sunshine Of Your Love” (track 5) with Arabic vocals by Hakmoun and Morphine's “Rope On Fire” (13). These two tracks are well worth the price of admission and are as compelling as anything I've year so far this year. More of this please, gentlemen.

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