A new year, a new Sclavis quintet - this one born out of the wish to continue the work begun back in 2005 with "L'imparfait des langues" (and retaining guitarist Delpierre and drummer Merville from that project) and to invent new musics in which to lose oneself. To uncover fragments of memory by chance, while chiseling at new ideas. Track titles allude to the voyages of Ulysses. Sclavis: “I wanted to travel somewhere unknown, letting myself be blown from Scylla to Charybdis by mastering the winds and the torrents of return to re-evoke a history” - along the way looking at aspects of jazz, rock and modern composition from unfamiliar perspectives.
“Lost on the Way” marks a new chapter in Louis Sclavis’s eventful journey through music’s borderlands. Regularly referenced as one of the pioneering exponents of a ‘European jazz’, the Lyon-born clarinettist, saxophonist and composer has investigated and explored a broad swathe of music - and other arts - in largely intuitive and non-dogmatic ways. His story is by no means all about jazz: on disc, he’s paid homage to Duke Ellington, but also to Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, to filmmaker Charles Vanel, to painter/collage artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest. At different times his spirit of inquiry has brought him into the orbit of free improvisers, folk musicians, interpreters of contemporary composition, and more. Sclavis stands out today as one of the players who has found his own clear voice – making international music from a European perspective, inside an ever-changing ensemble sound. Reinvention is a big part of his work, and with each release he redraws the map of his music.
With “Lost on the Way”, Sclavis turns to Homer for his titles, likening his voyage to Ulysses’ long journey home: “This new project was born out of the wish to continue the work begun with the preceding quintet on "L'imparfait des langues" [recorded 2005], and to invent new musics to play and to lose oneself in. Finding by chance, some fragments of memories, and chipping off the new ideas. Discovering like Ulysses new fears and new pleasures on the way. I wanted to travel somewhere unknown, without a plan and to formulate the journey into music, letting myself be blown from Scylla to Charybdis by mastering the winds and waves of return to re-evoke a history”. On “L’imparfait des langues” Sclavis had been stimulated by the energy of a new team of young players who brought elements from noise-rock, funk, electronica and free ambient music into the group sound. Of those players, eruptive guitarist Maxime Delpierre has been retained for “Lost on the Way”, as has long-time associate François Merville, whose beats, in this context, are often hammeringly direct.
Delpierre was first inspired by the electric guitar sounds of rock and pop in groups including the Ventures, the Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. After a brief detour into classical piano he proceeded to study jazz guitar, at the same time immersing himself in the music of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman. In Paris from ’93 he absorbed bebop and standards. At the decade’s end he met and played with Médéric Collignon, Sunny Murray, Mark Turner. Also plays in the groups Trio Mutatis Mutandis and Trio Limousine.
Merville studied classical percussion and piano and has worked with the Ensemble Intercontemporain under Pierre Boulez. Since 1993, however, he has devoted himself exclusively to jazz and aspects of improvisation. He has played in many of Sclavis’s groups over the last 15 years and has worked, furthermore with Ray Anderson, Michel Portal, Martial Solal, Dave Douglas, Django Bates, Vincent Courtois and many others.
Saxophonist Matthieu Metzger has played with Marc Ducret, Dominique Pifarély; Claude Barthélémy, Barre Phillips and many others, and worked in contexts from symphony orchestras and big bands to chamber ensembles, and jazz and rock groups. Metzger is a member of France’s Orchestra National de Jazz, with whom new bass guitarist Olivier Léte has also played. Lété, an extroverted, flamboyant, player has also toured in trio with Sclavis and Merville.
Louis Sclavis has been an ECM artist since 1991, when “Rouge” was recorded. Subsequent albums for the label are “Acoustic Quartet”, “Les violences de Rameau”, “L’affrontement des prétendants”, “Dans la nuit”, “Napoli’s Walls”, and “L’imparfait des langues”.
The “Lost on the Way” project is officially launched with a release concert at Paris’s Studio de l’Ermitage on May 11.
ReviewsSclavis'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: LÃ©tÃ© gels perfectly with Delpierre and Merville ¦ to sustain an irresistible momentum. 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, BBC Music Magazine