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Jazz - Released March 17, 2017 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Jazz - Released May 8, 2009 | ECM

Distinctions Elu par Citizen Jazz
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Jazz - Released September 20, 2019 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 20, 2019 | ECM

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Jazz - Released August 2, 2019 | JMS Productions

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Contemporary Jazz - Released July 1, 2013 | Label Bleu

Originally released in the late '80s, Chine and Chamber Music are here conveniently reissued as a two-CD set. At the time, both albums helped Louis Sclavis gain wider recognition -- at least in Europe. Chine is a quintet session which reflects the leader's interest in folk music and his "imaginary folklore" concept. The themes are not only inspired by French folk music but also by sounds from Argentina or Africa, for instance. At times, some rock accents tend to date the music. Chamber Music takes Sclavis' musical concept even further with a drumless septet featuring original instrumentation and delivering stronger compositions. The material does not offer the same variety as its predecessor, but it is more focused and benefits greatly from the addition of such wonderful improvisers as Yves Robert and Michel Godard. Once again, the session is still characteristic of early Sclavis endeavors -- improvisation over an obsessive pattern or use of overdubs on unaccompanied solos. Although violinist Dominique Pifarély does not contribute any material, his presence is more obvious and alludes to things to come. Without a drummer, bassist Bruno Chevillon's role becomes even more crucial and he meets the challenge with bravura. Like Pifarély, he would also become an essential component of Sclavis' future projects. Despite a few shortcomings, this reissue is essential to anyone interested in this significant musician's development. ~ Alain Drouot
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Jazz - Released January 30, 2007 | ECM

Saxophonist/clarinetist and composer Louis Sclavis has displayed a relentless pursuit of the unknown in his recordings for ECM in particular and in his long career in general. Take L'Imparfait des Langues, for instance, his 2007 outing for ECM. While he's never used two bands that were exactly the same on his recordings for the label, this one is easily his most adventurous. The only remaining member of his past ensembles is drummer par excellence François Merville. The other bandmembers -- alto saxophonist Marc Baron; keyboardist, guitarist, and electronician Paul Brousseau; and guitarist Maxime Delpierre -- are all younger musicians who have very diverse musical backgrounds (not all of them in jazz per se). Sclavis assembled and rehearsed this group for a festival in Monaco, using a new compositional method, where perhaps only eight or 16 bars were structured, allowing for maximum improvisation. When the festival was unexpectedly canceled due to the death of the country's monarch, Prince Rainier, the day before, Sclavis took the band into a Paris studio and recorded the album in a single day. The spontaneity and fresh crackle of interaction and interplay are unmistakable. Sclavis led the band but used instinct instead of control to get the job done. The textures and colors created on tracks such as "La Verbe," built around a single, repetitive melodic fragment, bring the band closer to the sound of Soft Machine in their later period than any contemporary jazz group. The horns work against one another in the middle, playing short contrapuntal tones and phrases, while the guitars and keyboards color everything around them in a gauzy darkness as only Merville's drums hold the entire tune together, accentuating the beautiful strummed trills by Delpierre. Elsewhere, as on "Palabre," a guitar riff creates the basis for the horn players to exchange and challenge one another once the head has been constructed atop the guitar. Here, the skeletal funky beginning offers shades of Eastern modality and melody, Ornette Coleman-style harmonics, and an improvisation between Sclavis and Baron so symbiotic that it is mind-blowing. There are ideas closer to what listeners expect from European jazz these days as well, such as on the wonderfully ethereal and knottily aggressive "L'Idée du Dialecte," where different musical languages are held -- however loosely -- inside the Euro jazz idiom. "Story of a Phrase" is wonderfully abrasive and slow as Delpierre uses a mild distortion pedal to play an angular -- if slightly restrained -- metal riff and both Baron and Merville find ways of creating both a melodic language and polyrhythmic counterpoint to the pulsing guitar lines. Sclavis takes his solo on the soprano and delves deep into the space between, using the guitar line to bounce off several others, all counter to the rhythms being laid down. Throughout, ambient sounds, small drones, and found samples are littered, layered, and slotted between the various players -- and this happens on virtually every track. Yes, this is most certainly a European jazz album, and a brave step for Sclavis, who probably considers this the next logical step in creating his encyclopedia of sound. But given the young ages of the players, he is stretched as well. L'Imparfait des Langues is a welcome and utterly fascinating surprise that will no doubt bring his fans closer, and hopefully extend to those who find themselves drawn to progressive music in general. ~ Thom Jurek
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Classical - Released March 8, 2016 | NoMadMusic

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Contemporary Jazz - Released July 1, 2013 | Label Bleu

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Jazz - Released October 7, 2003 | ECM

Louis Sclavis has for decades dazzled and provoked listeners with his literate, ambitious musical projects that examine not only the many dimensions and directions of the sonic spectrum, but also his Renaissance-like embrace of literature, foreign cultures, and now, visual art. With a new quartet collaborating with him -- only cellist Vincent Courtois is retained from his previous outing, L'Affrontement des Prétendants -- Sclavis turns his eyes, ears, and spirit toward an investigation of the paintings of the French artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest on Napoli's Walls. Pignon-Ernest, born in 1942, is a curious and wonderfully captivating artist, since he works not on canvas but on public surfaces. From 1987-1995 he worked in Naples, digging through a knotty, tragic history that involved both Oriental and Occidental cultures and the aftermath of volcanoes, disease, defeat at the hands of many armies, and the poetry of its people through it all. Sclavis (playing both clarinets and saxophones), Courtois (on cello), Médéric Collignon (on pocket trumpet, electronics, voices, and horn), and Danish guitarist Hasse Poulsen engage Pignon-Ernest head-on. They explore the various musical traditions of Naples, but also of the entire region through the language of the postmodern, as improvisation, formal composition, ethnomusicology, and an aesthetic that attempts to illustrate the visual aurally. This is accomplished by stitching together the region's popular and antiquated song forms (from folk to opera to madrigals), jazz (through a Mingus-like engagement with history and the dissemination of cultural mores), sophisticated and striated harmonic sensibilities, and a nuanced aesthetic of dissonance. There are ten selections on Napoli's Walls, all but one of them dedicated to a person or place and all of them warm and utterly engaged in time and place, whether the piece has humor in its articulation, such as on the title track or "Kennedy in Napoli," with its wondrous counterpoint, or is more elegiac as in "Divinaziona Moderna, Pt. 1" and "Guetteur d'Inaperçu." The classical thematics and structure of "Les Apparences," with its lilting cello line that counters the pocket trumpet in creating a theme to which Sclavis adds his trademark rounded tone on clarinet, is among the most striking moments on the set, especially as Poulsen's guitar breaks the dynamic and then shifts it into a meditative improvisation. Simply put, Napoli's Walls is an album that moves jazz from its rarefied 21st century ghetto and engages it in a different dimension, as it offers the visual as another song form and place of investigation for sonic inquiry as well as dissemination for antiquated and popular culture. And far from being merely academic, this record is full of sensual pleasure and an utterly accessible, often deeply moving articulation of a new musical language. ~ Thom Jurek
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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 5, 2007 | JMS

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Contemporary Jazz - Released June 24, 2013 | Label Bleu

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Jazz - Released February 21, 2002 | ECM

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Classical - Released January 21, 2017 | Eben Productions

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Jazz - Released March 17, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon ECM

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Jazz - Released January 17, 1994 | ECM

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Jazz - Released August 23, 2019 | ECM