Louis Sclavis Quintet

DAVID WAKEFIELD France's production of world-class jazz players in the mainstream and modern fields has been, shall we say, spasmodic.

DAVID WAKEFIELD

France's production of world-class jazz players in the mainstream and modern fields has been, shall we say, spasmodic:

Stephane Grappelli, of course, Pierre Michelot and Jacques Loussier are three that spring readily to mind, and French influences in the history of New Orleans music are undeniable. But in contemporary matters, it seems, things are happening.

Here is an ensemble that makes nonsense of conventional boundaries, and, given the leader's musical background, that is not surprising. He came to music via the classics, by way of Sidney Bechet, Sun Ra, Monk and Mingus – and it is not too difficult to spot the influences of Coltrane too.

Most of the programme's content was taken from a recent album, L'affrontement des Pretendants, and it demonstrated well the group's ability to stretch familiar musical boundaries, not only to that familiar "cutting edge" but possibly over the edge as well.

One marvels, in this type of free jazz, at the shimmering brilliance of the solos; yet wonders at their relevance to the original format of the piece. Technical wizardry abounded last night at NorwichPlayhouse, via Sclavis on clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone, Jean-Luc Cappozzo on trumpet, Bruno Chevillon on double bass, Francois Melville on drums, with Vincent Courtois, on cello, doing things that Casals would have winced at. Formidable

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