Louis Sclavis: Lost on the way

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Sclavis
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Assorted
PERFORMER: Louis Sclavis (sax, clarinet), Matthieu Metzger (sax), Maxime Delpierre (guitar), Olivier Lété (bass), François Merville (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 179 8497

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When I heard Sclavis in the 1980s, he had already forged a distinctive form of European (or Mediterranean) jazz, a genre which is now widespread and has incorporated local folk-music like jazz in the US absorbed the blues.

At one time Sclavis considered percussion too dominant in jazz, and his early recordings for ECM tended to the impressionistic and abstract. There are reflective, languid compositions on this album inspired by the voyages of Odysseus, too, and Sclavis’s adept use of instrumental colour and sinewy melody is well-showcased. But robust yet supple rhythmic elements characterise most of his music these days: Lété gels perfectly with Delpierre and Merville, retained from previous projects, to sustain an irresistible momentum.

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This edition of the band continues to benefit from a wide range of experience, from rock to classical, and Sclavis’s superb clarinet has a stimulating partner in Metzger’s alto. Barry Witherden