Reviews that mention Louis Sclavis

January 23, 2020

Louis Sclavis Quartet

Characters on a Wall
ECM 2645

Dans Les Arbres


SOFA 576

With 21st Century so far characterized by a resurgence of the clarinet in improvised music, sessions with the single reed as the only horn are no longer curious. What is remarkable is the ingenuity that goes into angling the woodwind towards free music. Luckily each of the clarinetists featured here have long been comfortable in these settings, although the sound of the quartets in which they play couldn’t be more different. MORE

April 1, 2017


Ida Lupino
ECM 2462

Although rightly so, Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi is the name above the title of this above-average CD of compositions and improvisations, he’s merely the first among equals. More profoundly the elaborations of the themes depend as much on the eloquent slide exaggerations of Bari-born trombonist Gianluca Petrella as Foligno-born Guidi’s keyboard skills. While the two dexterously partner as if comporting themselves in performing Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire routines, like the dances they need backing scenery and sounds from which to project. Sophisticated American drummer Gerald Cleaver provides the judicious rhythm that moves along these tracks. Meanwhile like the blustery foil on screen to try to separate the leads, French clarinetist Louis Sclavis adds a selected reed obbligato when warranted. MORE

August 1, 2014

Festival Report

Jazzdor-Strasbourg-Berlin 2014
By Ken Waxman

The KulturBrauerei’s music space Kesselhaus in East Berlin was a fitting site for the eighth annual Jazzdor-Strasbourg-Berlin (JSB) festival June 3-6. With jazz and improvised music’s universality now a given, a festival presenting mostly French jazz taking place in what had been one of Berlin’s oldest breweries, now repurposed from industrial to artistic use, doesn’t seem that much of a stretch.

Overall its all-inclusive musical theme was confirmed by the programming of JSB’s artistic director Philippe Ochem and his team, which already host Strasbourg’s annual Jazzdor festival. Over four nights, JSB presented musician from different parts of Germany, Belgium and the US plus proudly delineated Basque and Corsican players, all of whom worked with improvisers from France’s major musical centres. MORE

January 8, 2014

Festival Report

Festival Jazzdor Strasbourg
By Ken Waxman

A mercantile and European Union government centre, Strasbourg is a sophisticated French city with a large university, massive fortifications, picturesque canals and a renowned cathedral. Although La Marseillaise was composed and first sung in Strasbourg it’s also part of Alsace which was ceded to Germany from 1871-1918 and 1940-1944. Overcoming this historical enmity, for the past 11 years Festival Jazzdor has included a series of concerts in the nearby German city of Offenburg.

This year’s festival (November 8 to 22) was no different. One of its highlights was Günter Baby Sommer’s Bopp-Art Percussions in Offenburg’s Reithalle in Kulturforum. Featuring the veteran drummer’s quartet of saxophonist Frank-Paul Schubert, trombonist Gerhard Gschlößle and bassist Antonio Borghini, it matched their fiery blistering improvisations with a three-man Taiko ensemble plus Katharina Hilpert’s ethic and traditional flutes which bridged the two solitudes. Although the white blouses worn by the percussionists made them look like chefs, their massive drums and gongs resonations merely spiced the program with the Sommer four which provided the main meal. The several courses included traditional Saxon marches, slinky set pieces and experimental excursions where the horns injected gospel-like and Dixieland inflections emotions into frenetic line deconstruction. Prominent were tunes such as Like Don” and “Art Goes Japan”, which honored Sommer’s heroes Don Cherry and Art Blakey. The former featured a Schubert reimaging of a Cherry head, while the dynamism of the latter was maintained as the bearded, diminutive drummer put an individualist stamp on many of Blakey’s distinctive runs. MORE

March 21, 2012


contretemps etc…
In Situ IS 244

Just because Jazz introduced improvisation to the modern era – an approach rediscovered by so-called Classical music, and latterly adopted by Rock – it doesn’t means that notable sonic creations won’t arise from representatives of all three genres. At least that’s what happens on this CD.

Recorded in Besançon, during that city’s festival of Jazz and Improvised Music, contretemps etc… combines the talents of a trio of veteran players for a six-movement suite of unique sounds. Oldest of the three participants is Bordeaux-born percussionist Jean Pierre Drouet, 76, who besides composing for dance and theatre companies, works both with experimental musicians from the Legit – composers Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen – and Jazz fields. Guitarist Fred Frith, 63, who now teaches at California’s Mills College, has collaborated with Improv stylists such as saxophonist Larry Ochs, and yet is also known for his membership in Rock bands like the Art Bears. Meanwhile Lyon-based bass clarinettist and soprano saxophonist Louis Sclavis, 59, plays folkloric-inspired Improv, often in the company of guitarist Jean-Marc Montera. MORE

June 20, 2011


Eldorado Trio
Clean Feed CF 193 CD

New Old Luten Trio

White Power Blues

Euphorium EUPH 025

Taking as a starting point the trio instrumentation used superbly by piano experimenters such as Cecil Taylor and Alexander von Schippenbach, these CDs demonstrate improvisational concepts plus a balance between older and younger players. Skillful improvisations, the results produced are completely divergent, if equally significant.

Both recorded live, each session differs from the get-go. A Leipzig meeting, White Power Blues – an apt if somewhat politically incorrect title – celebrates a meeting between 75-year-old reedist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and two improvisers at least 40 years his junior: pianist Elan Pauer and percussionist Christian Lillinger. Petrowsky, along with trombonist Conrad Bauer, pianist Ulrich Gumpert and percussionist Günter Baby Sommer created noteworthy advanced Jazz in the former East Germany. A Sommer- protégé, Berlin-based Lillinger with his own Hyperactive Kid trio and backing players such as saxophonist Henrik Walsdorf, has become a lively, energetic drummer. Meanwhile Pauer ranges over the keyboard while touching on a multiplicity of sonic impulses. In short, the two extended tracks are no-holds-barred Free Jazz. MORE

March 14, 2011

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka
Tokyo Kirarasha

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl

Impro 2000

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

March 28, 2009

Jazz Brugge

Brugge, Belgium
October 2-October 5, 2008

Pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s German quartet rolled through a set of Thelonious Monk compositions; Sardinians, saxophonist Sandro Satta and keyboardist Antonello Salis liberally quoted Charles Mingus lines during their incendiary set; Berlin-based pianist Aki Takase and saxophonist Silke Eberhard recast Ornette Coleman’s tunes; and the French Trio de Clarinettes ended its set with harmonies reminiscent of Duke Ellington’s writing for his reed section.

All these sounds and many more were highlighted during the fourth edition of Jazz Brugge, which takes place every second year in this tourist-favored Belgium city, about 88 kilometres from Brussels. But sonic homage and musical interpolations were only notable when part of a broader interpretation of improvised music. Other players in this four-day festival came from Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland and Belgium. With strains of rock, New music and folklore informing the jazz presented at the festival’s three sonically impressive venues, music at the most notable concerts was completely unique or added to the tradition. The less-than-memorable sets were mired in past achievements or unworkable formulae MORE

October 3, 2007

Louis Sclavis

L’imparfait des langues
ECM 1954

French clarinetist Louis Sclavis’ innate lyricism is intact, yet his musical language unexpectedly adapts a new syntax on this notable release.

Esteemed for developing folklore imaginaire, which frames improvisation within both the European classical tradition and Mediterranean airs, the reedist’s supple sounds are usually reminiscent of what you’d find at a recital. But the newly composed L’imparfait des langues is interpreted by sidemen in their twenties and thirties whose allegiance encompasses rock music and electronics as well as improvised and notated music. MORE

July 11, 2005

Louis Sclavis & Jean-Marc Montera


By Ken Waxman
July 11, 2005

Free Music punters familiar with the sounds of French clarinetist Louis Sclavis are going to be thrown for a loop with this CD. That’s because the Lyons-based reedman moves ‘way beyond his customary comfort zone into the realm of atonal playing. The reason: the participation of Marseilles-based guitarist Jean-Marc Montera. The results: exceptional and revelatory.

Part of the Folklore imagainaire movement which has its main adherents in France and Italy, Sclavis, who plays soprano saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet here, usually records in breezy, somewhat pastoral circumstances, seconded by guitars, accordions, cellists and violinists. His usual home is ECM. Yet this 13 chapitre suite exposes a tougher, more combative side of his playing, which perhaps was only fully showcased in 1994 when he recorded with hard-edged cellist Ernst Reijseger from the Netherlands. MORE

February 28, 2005


Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club
Boxholder BXH 042

Berlin Djungle
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 246CD

Getting an understanding of the situation for committed free improvisers in Europe as opposed to the United States in the mid-1980s is pretty obvious when listening to these two live CDs, recorded about two months apart, both of which happen to have William Parker in the bass chair.

In early November 1984, German reedist Peter Brötzmann put together an international, all-star, 11-piece “Clarinet Project” for a special concert in a Berlin theatre as part of that city’s Jazzfest. Beside himself the clarinetists were Tony Coe from England, Louis Sclavis from France, East German Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and J. D. Parran and John Zorn from the U.S. But that’s not all. The ensemble also included Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, East German Johannes Bauer and Briton Alan Tomlinson on trombones, with British drummer Tony Oxley supplying the bottom along with Parker. By all accounts the one lengthy piece was welcomed by the audience. MORE

February 7, 2005


Bow River Falls
Premonition Records KOCH CD 5744

Worlds Apart
Spool Line SPL124

Drummer Dylan van der Schyff and cellist Peggy Lee are the elements that connect these two sessions. With international reputations, -- Lee having played with the Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro and American reedist Vinny Golia, while van der Schyff has worked with British saxist John Butcher and American cornetist Rob Mazurek -- the Canadian husband and wife live in Vancouver, B.C., and have built their careers from there. MORE

November 8, 2004


Napoli’s Walls
ECM 1857

Aiming for a sort of automated rusticity, French reedist Louis Sclavis mutates his idea of so-called imaginary folklore still further on NAPOLI’s WALLS by incorporating electronics manipulated by two of the musicians.

Results are mixed. Sometimes the timbres on these 10 tunes, written to reflect the art adhered to public spaces of Naples by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, gets a certain POMO fillip from the loops and sine waves. Other times they seem more like a potpourri of effects that glance off one another without connecting. Although a series of Pignon-Ernest’s images are reprinted in the booklet, Sclavis sees his songs as reflective a fictive Naples. This makes the CD more a collection of pure rather than program music. MORE

September 22, 2003


Instants: Live at Teatro Olimpico
Velut Luna CVLD 07600

Plateau Phase
Chocolate Guns 002

Not content to be mere time keepers, some drummers on the Italian scene are part of the international redefinition of the percussionist’s role and excel in improvising, band leading and composition.

Primo uno example of this is Tiziano Tononi, with his work with both the Italian Instabile Orchestra and Nexus. Yet this two CDs by younger percussionists unquestionably demonstrate that he’s not alone in his inventiveness. MORE

April 5, 2002


Dans La Nuit
ECM 1805 CD 314 589 524-2

Described by one jazz guide as “potentially the most important French jazz musician since Django Reinhardt”, clarinetist Louis Sclavis has for years involved himself in a variety of projects to either show off his versatility or confirm his status.

A classically trained woodwind player from Lyon, Sclavis appears to be as interested in musical Gallic folklore, Renaissance music and 21st century European art music as jazz improvisation. Having played with stylists as different as Free Jazz pioneer pianist Cecil Taylor, Québeçois musique actuelle saxophonist Jean Derome and mainstreamer bop drummer and countryman Daniel Humair, Sclavis has work on versatility. Recently as well, his interest in theatre has expanded into writing film scores, including Ça commence aujord’hui, a popular French film directed by Bertrand Tavernier, best known in North America for his jazz biopic, ‘Round Midnight. MORE