TIME OUT NEW YORK
April 28 – May 4, 2005
Bassist Mike Rivard likens his Boston-based ensemble Club d’Elf, not inappropriately, to Charles Mingus’s volatile Jazz Workshops. Less a fixed entity than a laboratory with a rotating cast, Club d’Elf combines the roaring avant-funk of electric-era Miles with the legato drift of the Grateful Dead. Manic Berber bop, hypnotic Moroccan gnawa (abetted by oud player Brahim Fribgane) and blissful electronica are usually present in the mix as well.
Three new double-CD live releases on the Kufala label give a good sense of the project’s range. Gravity All Nonsense Now, taped in May 2003 at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts, soars on the twinned guitars of Dave Tronzo and David Fiuczynski, at its peaks conjuring a Derek and the Dominoes floating on a cough-syrup current. Recorded nine months later in the same room, 100 Years Of Flight pairs Tronzo with Mat Maneri’s incisive electric violin, mining a lode of muscular, Mahavishnu-esque prog.
Keyboardist John Medeski stretches out on Live: Tonic, NYC 5/26/04; so does guitarist Marc Ribot, who rarely sounds this gonzo in his own bands. Turntablist Mister Rourke, also present on Gravity, is an integral part of the musical fabric. The biggest difference is the razor-sharp funk of Adam Deitch, who cut his teeth as house drummer at the Nuyorican Poets cafe and perfected his monster groove in John Scofield’s recent jam units. Rivard, Fribgane and Deitch serve as Club d’Elf’s nexus during a month of Tuesdays at the Tap Bar, promising heady music that doesn’t neglect the tail. – Steve Smith