Maurizio Comandini, All About Jazz Italia
Mike Rivard’s Club d’Elf continues its work of the deconstruction and expansion of improvised trance music unperturbed with this optimal double live album which their friends at independent and progressive Kufala records are promptly putting on the market.
In this case we find ourselves in front of an extended version of the band (which, however, is unavoidably a mutable entity by design of the project), which was reunited October 12, 2006 at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, on the periphery of Boston, to celebrate the release of their studio album ‘Now I Understand’. By now a locale well known to fans of the American band, it is a true and just friendly territory insofar as the Lizard Lounge can be imagined as the home base of the group, who have played there practically every Thursday from 1998 until today.
Next to the bassist Mike Rivard, the true democratic leader of the band, we find John Medeski, the two excellent electric guitars of Dave Tronzo and Duke Levine, the turntables and samples of Mister Rourke, the original drummer of the group Erik Kerr, the saxophonist Tom Hal and the trombonist Tom Halter.
A festive and exciting occasion renders the habitually incessant groove even more lively and wriggling. In the air, suggestions of Northern Africa and superimpositions of charming timbres materialize which let us catch a glimpse into an urban jungle of which each of us dreams in the enchanted mid-summer nights, projecting into the future of its personal world at the limits of possibility.
The telepathic contact that is created between the rhythm section and the other musicians engaged on stage is by now legendary and finds no obstacle in the fact that its lineup is, for this occasion, much wider than usual. Indeed it could be said that the major availability of colors is an ulterior element which Rivard knows how to employ to capture the minds of listeners and drag them sweetly and lightly onto his unending journey to slowly see the surrounding panorama change, like a train which floats weightlessly on magnetic tracks and moves between mysterious worlds of the collective imagination.
In the end we can justly see this group as an expanded rhythm section which moves incessantly and with extreme fluidity surrounded by a thousand colors manifested through links of phrases and of solos which seem to come from nothing, only to disappear magically behind a corner we never would have considered. The great quality of the soloists involved (above all Medeski and Tronzo) is such that the recipe will always be tasty and exciting and the formidable empathy which comes to be created in these by now mythical evenings makes every negative tension dissipate and lets only positive energies emerge. Pure magic.