March 30, 2002
“A bit of everything at the TLA tonight”
For several years, the musical aggregate known as Club d’Elf has been building a fan base in the Boston area. The band brings its improvisational mix of styles to Philadelphia on Saturday night.
They’ll perform one show at the Theater of Living Arts, with Calvin Weston’s Big Tree as the opening act.
The touring incarnation of Club d’Elf features founder/bandleader Mike Rivard on bass, Brahim Fribgane on oud and percussion, John Medeski on keyboards, Mister Rourke on turntables, Erik Kalb on drums and Mat Maneri on violin.
“We started Sunday night in Falls Church (Va.) and we’ll be doing eight shows in eight days,” Rivard said during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Asheville, N.C. “It’s not like we have a new record to promote — just the live record (“As Above” on Grapeshot/LiveArchive) from last year. John Medeski had eight days free and it was just taking advantage of that.”
Club d’Elf’s music transcends a variety of genres — jazz, space rock, Moroccan Berber music, experimental, trip-hop, funk, avant-garde, rock, fusion, dub and electronica.
“We started four years ago in Cambridge,” Rivard said. “It’s pretty much ongoing — just not as visible at times. When we’re back in Boston, we play pretty regularly. I’d like to keep the band on the road more. But it’s hard to describe the music, so that makes it difficult to promote.
“In Boston, our audiences include hippies, ravers, jazz cats and Moroccans. I’m really hoping to take the band to Morocco sometime soon.
“Most of our compositions are like a ride at an amusement park. There’s lots of improv, but not much jamming. It starts with drum and bass and then the other musicians remix on top of it. The structure changes from night to night.
“I try to steer more toward group improv. In addition to playing bass, I do a lot of onstage conducting. I’ve developed my own arcane system.”
What: Club d’Elf
When: March 30, 10 p.m.
Where: Theater of Living Arts, 334 South St., Philadelphia