Boston Herald Scene Friday, February 5, 1999 Boston Beat TRISTRAM LOZAW Club D’Elf marks 1 year
A well-versed player, Michael Rivard follows a range of music from hip-hop, altered beats and DJ tracks to West African and traditional music, with a little Bill Laswell and avant jazz in between. But regular work as a freelance bassist in Boston wasn’t fulfilling his needs.
“Nobody was letting me get as weird and strange as I’d like,” said Rivard, “so I started my own thing. I had an idea of putting trance-based groove music together with house beats. I wanted to create a scene I would go to. The Lizard Lounge was receptive, and Club D’Elf was born.”Illustrious musicians joined in the amorphous, wild-beat fun as the concept caught on with twice-a-month shows. John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood), DJ Logic, Danny Blume, Morphine’s Mark Sandman and Dana Colley, Mat Maneri, guitarist Duke Levine, Sufi singer Warren Senders (Anti-Gravity) and oud player Brahim Fribgane are among those who have done guest shots. Thursday, Club D’Elf celebrates its first anniversary at the Lizard.
“Club D’Elf caught on and took on a life of its own,” said Rivard, aka Micro Vard. We play actual tunes, not open-ended jams. But there’s enough room in the melodies and heads to shape the song differently every night – make it jazzier, rockier or dance-groove-oriented, straight-ahead or more harmonically complex, depending on that evening’s players.”
Over time, a Club D’Elf “house” band has evolved with Rivard, percussionist Jerry Leake, Jere Faison on sampler and drummer Erik Kerr. Thursday’s show will be Leake’s first since a three-month sojourn in West Africa.
There should be a Club D’Elf CD by summer. “Some of the album is like an audio chain letter – we’d send the tape around and each person would add his part.” Rivard may also release a limited-edition CD of his live Lizard Lounge recordings.