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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CD Review: Club d'Elf - Live @ Club Helsinki

John Medeski (keyboards), Brahim Fribgane (oud, voice, percussion), Duke Levine (guitar), Mister Rourke (DJ), Mike Rivard (bass, sinter, bass kalimba), Dean Johnston (drums) + Thomas Workman (flute).
(Review by Steve T)
I generally like to play albums three times to give them a chance to sink in. I recently reviewed a Ben Cox album after two but, following the third play, I felt I'd been a bit critical. Half way through the first CD of this, I had a strong suspicion it's a monster but played it again just to confirm it wasn't my desperation to find something above the rest.
Mogador opens things up with a piano trio and spoken electronica before the entrance of guitar which will play such an important part, followed by more piano virtuosity, accompanied by high-end bass which never lets up over two CDs, changing time signatures Jazzing things up and Indian sounds arriving towards the end.
Africa is a cover of The Gaylads which I wouldn't know so there must be another version, or something very similar. Some George Clinton style deep voiced master of ceremonies, underpinned by P Funk guitar, mellotron and some scratching; a role for vinyl you may think, beyond hanging its container on a wall, though I'm told CDs do this better as well as everything else.
Booloolu ups the world music stakes, reminding me of early Weather Report, amongst the first Western outfits to assimilate what we now think of as world music, without patronising it through superficial novelties.
By Hegaz you've got full-on sitar-like guitar which must be inspired by McLaughlin’s modifications in Shakti and, for Miles’ sake, Hammond too, bass kicking butt throughout.
The final piece of set one is Berger Song with some subtle Eastern violin and some more solid rock guitar.
Set two is more of the same, insomuch as don't be surprised by anything. Lots of flute, clavinet, bass clarinet and a hint of Miles electric style trumpet, perhaps a nod and a wink to Bitches Brew. There's more in the way of vocals, but anybody who wants ABBA, either the band or song-form, should probably look elsewhere. Anybody who likes sprawling, sweeping epics with a plethora of influences, should probably check this out.
The notes cite Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Studio One, John Cage, drum n bass, the Allman Brothers, James Brown, Fela Kuti and Sun Ra and, unsurprisingly, I'd like to add Zappa and prog rock. 
Bass player Mike Rivard and drummer Dean Johnston are the constant presence in this band and I can safely say I will travel anywhere in this country to see them live. No plans for a tour as yet but in the meantime, slap this on and turn it up, it may well be the future.
It's been out since January.    
Sample/Purchase.
Steve T.

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