COMPOSERS: Louis Sclavis Quartet
WORKS: Silk and Salt Melodies
PERFORMER: Louis Sclavis (clarinet), Gilles Coronado (guitar), Benjamin Moussay (piano) etc ECM 378 6537 63 mins
CATALOGUE NO: 378 6537
I’ve always thought of saxist Louis Sclavis as a French counterpart to the great John Surman, especially in his work over the last two decades. Not that you’d ever confuse one for the other, but both men have developed a highly personal style in which their early free jazz leanings co-exist fruitfully with a strong sense of almost classical structure and a folk-like charm and nimbleness, bound together by a distinctive sound and underpinned by a profound lyricism, with a penchant for the rich tone of the bass clarinet.
Sclavis wrote all these pieces, and his talent for creating immediately-memorable yet un-cliched melodies is evident throughout. The interaction of written and improvised material is achieved seamlessly, and the quartet acts as a homogeneous unit: no one grandstands or destroys a group mood. Nonetheless, these are highly virtuosic performances, with remarkably intricate and tricky passages of counterpoint. An absolute treat from start to finish.