(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz collective Club D’Elf, featuring superstar keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin and Wood fame, return to Club Helsinki Hudson with their funky world-trance grooves on Saturday, January 14, at 9pm, to celebrate the long-awaited release of “Live at Club Helsinki,” an epic double album that showcases the band’s genre-leaping improvisational acumen, performing at one of its favorite venues for an ecstatic crowd.
The band’s association with Club Helsinki dates to 2001, when it first performed at the nightclub’s original Great Barrington, Mass., location. Since that time, the group has performed annually at the club in its current location in Hudson. A combination of superb sound, intimate environment, and an audience tuned into the band’s every nuance helped create one of those magical nights. “Live at Club Helsinki” captures the excitement of two complete continuous sets of no-holds-barred improvisations and classic D’Elf tunes.
The brainchild of Boston bassist/composer Mike Rivard (Morphine, Either Orchestra, Guster, Boston Pops), Club d’Elf is a constellation of top musicians from the jazz, DJ, rock and world music scenes of Boston and NYC who get in the groove and proceed to blow it up. With Rivard and drummer Dean Johnston at the core, guitars, turntables, Fender Rhodes, laptops, horns, tablas and a myriad of exotic instruments flow in and out of the mix.
Featuring John Medeski employing an arsenal of analog instruments including a vintage Mellotron, as well as Moroccan native Brahim Fribgane on oud, guitarist Duke Levine, percussionist Mister Rourke, bassist/composer Mike Rivard, and drummer Dean Johnston, the music on the live album visits touchstones as disparate as Studio One, John Cage, Gnawa and drum ‘n’ bass.
Marlon Bishop of WNYC says, “Club d’Elf sounds like the lovechild of Pink Floyd and George Clinton, dropped in Marrakesh… some deeply psychedelic music.” Writing for Time Out New York, Steve Smith says, “The roaring avant-funk of electric-era Miles (and) the legato drift of the Grateful Dead… Manic Berber bop, hypnotic Moroccan Gnawa and blissful electronica are usually present in the mix as well… at its peaks conjuring a Derek and the Dominoes floating on a cough-syrup current. Heady music that doesn’t neglect the tail.”
Informed as much by sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s ideas of shifting reality and parallel universes as by Miles Davis & Fela Kuti, the band draws inspiration from many sources, including the avant comedy of Firesign Theater and Mr. Show. Guitars, turntables, Fender Rhodes, laptops, horns, tablas and all manner of exotic instruments flow in and out of the mix, along with guests variously including Marco Benevento, Billy Martin, Ryan Montbleau, DJ Logic, Mark Sandman (Morphine), Hassan Hakmoun, Marc Ribot, and Skerik.
The band is equally at home playing late-night festival sets for the rave/Burning Man crowd as it is for a predominately Arabic audience in traditional garb as boundaries melt away and all are drawn into the intoxicating power of the D’Elf groove. The group’s bi-weekly residency at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, Mass., is the stuff of legend and provided a laboratory for its improvisational style to emerge and develop.
Special guest John Medeski, who has been an “honorary core member” of Club d’Elf from day one, is best known for his work with the genre-defying trio Medeski Martin & Wood. Built upon jazz roots, electronics and rhythmic grooves – not unlike Club d’Elf — MMW have broken out of the traditional jazz sphere and have shared the bill with groups such as The Roots, Beck, A Tribe Called Quest, Ray Charles, Hermento Pascoal, and Phish, frequently appearing in venues unavailable to most jazz artists.
Medeski’s recording credits include John Zorn, Iggy Pop, T Bone Burnett, Ray Lamontagne, Dan The Automator and k.d. Lang. Medeski has produced the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, pedal steel guitar group the Campbell Brothers, and two records from the Wood Brothers, and is currently touring with gospel super group The Word.
For reservations in The Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800.