How exactly is it that it took me 14 years to see these guys live? That was the question looming in my head at the cozy Lizard Lounge, as Club D’Elf‘s adventurous jazz/dub/fusion excursions ran rampant and unchecked through my electrified, buzzing brain. This was a special occasion – part of a Memorial Weekend ‘guitar orgy’ which, on this particular night, was presided over by special guests Randy Roos and Reeves Gabrels. Reeves I have seen before, and it was good to see him again. Mr. Roos I wasn’t familiar with, but he’s a wildly impressive guitarist as well, and there was some good-natured ‘sparring’ (and at times delightful interplay between the two) which added even more enjoyment to a heaping helping of aural ecstacy.
Was this ever a night of virtuoso performance! For those not familiar with Club D’Elf, they’ve been a fixture on the Boston music scene since 1998, and refer to themselves as a “Moroccan-dosed psychedelic-dub–jazz collective.” Many notable Boston musicians have “done their time” in Club D’Elf over the years, including Mat Maneri, Duke Levine, Dave Tronzo, Russ Gershon, and Matt Glover, with “special guests” such as Joe Maneri, Marc Ribot, Mark Sandman, Billy Conway, Dana Colley, and Roger Miller. Tonight, in addition to their two axe-slingers, the band featured their leader Mike Rivard on bass and Moroccan sintir (a 3 string bass lute used by the Gnawa people, and one very cool instrument), Vicente Lebron (congas, percussion), Tom Hall (sax), Dean Johnston (drums), and Yaure Muniz (trumpet). Everyone was simply mind-blowing, including the percussive prowess of Lebron and Johnston, and Muniz, who left the crowd awestruck with his horn solos.
They got quite a groove going, incredibly hypnotic, with each member getting their turn to soar into outer space, though their group chemistry held everything tightly together to make for beautifully seamless musical stretches that ebbed and flowed. I don’t go out to see a lot of live jazz, but it’s fascinating to witness musicians who are so familiar with each other’s playing styles. In the midst of a long improvisation where everyone is on the same wavelength, something magical happens.
They performed two long sets with a brief intermission in-between. I think the first “song” was like an hour long! Definitely a band for ‘serious jam lovers,’ and as we eased unawares into the early hours of the morning, there were several people engaged in what I’ll call “freeform exotic movement.”
[P.S. for Reeves fans: he’s currently in the studio with Earl Slick and others, recording something which, according to him, sounds like “Tattoo You-era Stones and Station to Station.” He’s also finishing up work on his own album.]share this: