Ashville Citizen-Times 3/21/2002 Jazz-jammers Club d’Elf get the beat going at Asheville Music Zone
Listening to writer/bassist Mike Rivard describe the concept of his band Club d’Elf sounds like a painter detailing the image he brushes onto a canvas. Although his medium is electronic jazz-trance music rather than oils, Rivard is more conductor than member of this Boston born group that he calls “space age Dixieland.”
“I feel like each player is a fader on a console,” said Rivard. “During the show, I’m pushing them up and down for more solo from one instrument or another.”
With an ensemble that includes John Medeski of ultra-hip jazz trio Medeski, Martin, & Wood and Brahim Fribgane who’s worked with Peter Gabriel and Morphine, sextet Club d’Elf play two sets at the Asheville Music Zone Tuesday night.
“There’s a lot of freedom in this music but is definitely a discipline involved,” said Rivard. “The music should only be the stop and starts for the improvisational compositions of each player. It’s the place where we ground ourself.”
If comparisons to other experimental jazz jammers have shadowed the band’s uniqueness, Rivard casually clarifies Club’s role. “We’re in that gray area in between. We’re much more influenced by indigenous sounds from around the world – Moroccan, North African, and Arabic cultures.”
Native instruments like the santir have enhanced the band’s world music sound but as Rivard points out, the very modern addition of the DJ brings a distinctly roots feel. “He thinks like a musician. His turn-tables are just another instrument.”
In this group, DJ Mister Rourke spins a mixture of everything from dub drum & bass vocal samples with a particular lean towards hip-hop.
“We’re trying to communicate with each other in a language that is as open as possible,” Rivard said. “It’s like a bunch of people having a conversation in different languages where everyone is fluent on each. It’s the content that is important and the group dynamics within the dialogue.” Club compositions are primarily instrumental although Fribgane does lend vocals to a few tracks. Like the electronic world that partly inspires them, Club is a fluid show with no breaks between songs per set. “Everybody is soloing and yet nobody is soloing at the same time. We just let the music emerge and go on with it.”