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Portrait of Mike Rivard / Club d'Elf (english version)

Club d Elf
Club d'Elf, the everlasting changing monster-band
(Portait by Nicolas Ragonneau for Paris DJs - late june 2011)

Bassist Mike Rivard is the man behind the band called Club d'Elf. But can we still call this strange entity a band, since Rivard has invited more than 100 musicians to join since Club d'Elf played its first note in 1998? This incredible rotating cast (for a comprehensive list of players, jump to this page) makes the project more of a conspiracy (or a club indeed!) than a band itself. The whole story began when Mike Rivard, a busy session player who has recorded and performed with Morphine, Jon Brion and Aimée Mann among others, drew from the players in the myriad of bands he worked with to fill out the ranks of Club d'Elf, creating a mutant in perpetual motion. Formed around a core ryththm section with the addition of different special guests for each show, the idea was to remix Rivard's groove-based compositions differently for each performance. Guests over the years have included John Medeski & Billy Martin (MMW), DJ Logic, Marc Ribot, Skerik, and Marco Benevento (Benevento / Russo Duo), with describing the situation thusly : "Club d'Elf consists of Mike Rivard and any cohorts who decide to embark with him into perilous sonic chimeras".

The band enjoys exploring mash-ups of the diverse musical universes they travel, where a Squarepusher-styled drum'n'bass groove may give way to a traditional North Indian tabla interlude, in turn dissolving into some Miles "Live Evil" type electric mayhem. Over the past few years (under the tutelage of member Brahim Fribgane, who hails from Casablanca) the band has been absorbing Moroccan trance influences and frequently adding this element to the live mix, showcasing Fribgane's mesmerizing oud stylings and Rivard's commanding playing of the Moroccan sintir, a 3 string bass lute used by the Gnawa people, a mystical Sufi brotherhood descended from sub-Saharan slaves brought to Morocco over 500 years ago.

Club d Elf

Over the course of its 13 year history the band has has held a residency at Cambridge's Lizard Lounge, and while visits out of the Northeast have been rare, D'Elf has found a large audience in Japan and toured there five times, most recently in December'10 with Medeski as special guest, where the band played to enthusiastic, sold-out rooms. A predominantly Muslim audience embraced the band's take on Moroccan folk music at the 2007 edition of the Festival Du Monde Arabe in Montreal, where they performed songs by beloved Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane and Berber musician Haj Belaid.

Finding its true element to be live performance, where the band revels in musical tight-rope walking and improvisational daring-do, D'Elf has released 7 live double-CDs on the Kufala label. In 2006 D'Elf released its first studio disc, Now I Understand, which climbed to 7 on the CMJ Jazz chart and garnered rave reviews. In April 2011 the band's long-awaited studio follow-up hits the street. A double-disc set, entitled Electric Moroccoland/So Below, it represents two distinct sides of the groups sound: Moroccan trance and funky electronica/DJ-driven beats, and features over 26 musicians including Medeski, DJ Logic, the late Mark Sandman of Morphine (in some of his last recorded performances), and Hassan Hakmoun singing a Gnawa-ified version of Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love".

Club d'Elf Links :
official | audio archive | bandcamp | facebook | myspace | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter | vimeo | wordpress | youtube

Michael J. Rivard - Discography 1986 - Present :
Club d'Elf: Electric Moroccoland/So Below (Face Pelt, 2011)
David G. Moore: Never The First To Jump (DGM, 2010)
Annie Royer - Sous le ciel de Paris (Annier Royer, 2010)
Porter Smith - Rainlight (Cakewood, 2010) Anne Marie David - Turning Home (Arrhae Press, 2009)
M'Liss Calzaretta - Shadows and Split Aparts (2009)
Morphine - At Your Service (Rhino/Ryko, 2009)
David Fiuczynski - Kif Express (Fuzelicious Morsels, 2008)
Linda Sharar - Everyday (Rock Road Records, 2008)
Natraj - Song of the Swan (Galloping Goat, 2008) Porter Smith - Raise (Cakewood Music, 2008)
(Club d'Elf) - Arabia: The Greatest Songs Ever (Petrol Records, 2007)
Carol Noonan - As Tears Go By (2007)
Club d'Elf - Perhapsody (Kufala Recordings, 2007)
Duke Levine - Beneath the Blue (Loud Loud Music Records, 2007)
Zyrah's Orange - A Space to Call Your Own (Zyrah's Orange, 2007)
Catie Curtis - Long Night Moon (Compass Records, 2006)
Club d'Elf - Athens, Georgia 3/28/01 (Kufala Recordings, 2006)
DJ Logic - Zen of Logic (Rope-A-Dope, 2006)
Club d'Elf - Live at Tonic, NY 5/26/04 (Kufala, 2005)
Club d'Elf - Vassar Chapel 2/26/01 (Kufala Recordings, 2005)
Orchestra Morphine - Live 10/23/03 (Kufala Recordings, 2005)
Carol Noonan - Somebody's Darling (2004)
Club d'Elf - 100 Years Of Flight (Kufala Recordings, 2004)
Club d'Elf - 4/20/00 NYC (Kufala Recordings, 2004)
Club d'Elf - Gravity All Nonsense Now (Kufala Recordings, 2004)
Michelle Lewis - This Time Around (Michelle Lewis, 2004)
Zoux - Volume 1 (Bluezoux Music, 2004)
Geoff Scott - Tuesday Night (Table 8, 2003)
John Medeski - Doctor Sax and the Great World Snake (Gallery Six, 2003)
Lori McKenna - Pieces of Me (Gyrox Records, 2003)
Patty Larkin - Red = Luck (Vanguard Records, 2003)
Billy Martin - Drop the Needle: Illy B Eats (Amulet Records, 2002)
Brian Webb - Broken Folk (Brian Webb, 2002)
Laurie Geltman - Motion Pictures (Rosebloom Productions, 2002)
Linda Thompson - Fashionably Late (Rounder, 2002)
Orig. Soundtrack - Sunshine State (Rounder, 2002)
Pat Burtis - Radium Girls (Blacksmith Shoe Music, 2002)
Stan Douglas - Suspiria (music by John Medeski / Scott Harding) (Limited Edition CD, 2002)
Brian Gottesman - Pardon My Mess (Shelley Court Records, 2001)
Dana Edelman - American Overload (DER, 2001)
Daniel Barret - Shadows (Lovebang, 2001) Felicia Brady - Magazine Street (MSM, 2001)
Ken Field - Pictures of Motion (The Orchard, 2001)
Kevin McClusky - Trust (Waterboat Music, 2001)
Linda Sharar - Any Second Street (Rock Road Records, 2001)
Too Human - True Boenel Records (Boenel Records, 2001)
Zoux - Good Days (Bluezoux Music, 2001)
Club d'Elf As Above - Live at the Lizard Lounge (LiveArchive/Grapeshot, 2000)
Daniel Jacobs - Echoes of My Footsteps (Daniel Jacobs, 2000)
Groovelily - Little Light (QMR, 2000)
Jen Shankman - Under the Blue Umbrella (Jen Shankman, 2000)
John McVey - Jigsaw (Native Language, 2000)
Michael Beatty - Shotgun (Blue Wing, 2000)
Morphine - The Night (Dreamworks, 2000)
Nate Borofsky - Never Enough Time (Finocchio, 2000)
Patty Larkin - Regrooving the Dream (Vanguard Records, 2000)
Will Provost - My Former Self (5 Guys Named Will, 2000)
Aimee Mann - Viva Noel (Q Division, 1999)
Erinn Brown - Road Signs to the Sun (Right Coast Records, 1999)
Eugene Ruffolo - Fool for Every Season (CRS, 1999)
Jonatha Brooke - Live (Bad Dog Records, 1999)
Dar Williams/Lucy Kaplansky/ Richard Shindell - Cry Cry Cry (Razor and Tie, 1998)
Erin O'Donnell - Scratching the Surface (Cadence/Warner Brothers, 1998)
Geoff Bartley - One Kind Word (MCR, 1998)
Jennifer Kimball - Veering From the Wave (Imaginary/Polygram, 1998)
John Donelan - Our Life and Times (Right Coast Records, 1998)
Kris Delmhorst - Appetite (Big Bean, 1998)
Linda Sharar - Participate (Linda Sharar, 1998)
Natraj - Deccan Dance (Galloping Goat, 1998)
Brian Ales - Creature of Habit (Intuition, 1997)
Dogon - The Sirian Experiments (New Dog, 1997)
Duke Levine - Lava (tamboura) (Daring, 1997)
John McVey - A Circle of Friends (Fine Line, 1997)
Jonatha Brooke - Ten Cent Wings - (Refuge/MCA - 1997)
Magnet (with Moe Tucker) - Don't Be a Penguin (PC Music, 1997)
Morphine - B Sides and Otherwise (Rykodisc, 1997)
Morphine - Like Swimming (Dreamworks, 1997)
Patty Larkin - Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro (Astor Place, 1997)
Todd Thibaud - Favorite Waste of Time (Dolittle Records, 1997)
Don Houge - The Eternal Now (Accurate, 1996)
Either/Orchestra - Across the Omniverse (Accurate, 1996)
Jacque Chambers - Colors (Right Coast, 1996)
Ken Field - Subterranea (SFZ Recordings, 1996)
Michael Beatty - The Night Traveller (Blue Wing, 1996)
Tomo Fujita and Blue Funk - Put on Your Funk Face (TFP, 1996)
Guster - Aware 3 The Compilation (Aware, 1995)
Guster - Parachute (Aware, 1995) Jennifer Trynin - Cockamamie (Warner Brothers, 1995)
Jonatha Brooke and The The Story - Plumb (Blue Thumb/MCA, 1995)
Late August - Dreams Tonight (VSdb Records, 1995)
Morphine - Get Shorty Soundtrack (Antilles/Verve, 1995)
Bruce Jacques - Kicking Back (DWE Music, 1994)
Courage Brothers - Wood (Eastern Front, 1994)
Natraj - Meet Me Anywhere (Dorian Discovery, 1994)
Natraj - The Goat Also Gallops (Dorian Discovery, 1994)
Brian Ales - Naivete (VeraBra/BMG, 1993)
The Story - Angel in the House (Elektra, 1993)
(Sheldon Moskovitz) Narada Christmas, Vol. 2 (Narada, 1992)
Batwel Rada - Mesi (1992)
Mighty Sam McLain - Give It Up To Love (JVC, 1992)
Nando Lauria - Alma del Sur (Narada, 1992)
The Story - Grace in Gravity (Elektra, 1991)
Either/Orchestra - The Half Life of Desire (Accurate, 1990)
The Walkers - And at the End of the Day (Giant, 1989)
Either/Orchestra - Radium (Accurate, 1988)
Either/Orchestra - Dial "E" (Accurate, 1986)

Mike Rivard Biography :
Perhaps the only musician to have performed with Cab Calloway, Wildman Fisher, and a member of the Velvet Underground (though sadly, not all at the same time), bassist /composer Mike Rivard defies easy categorization and finds himself at home in a bewildering array of settings: From the low-rock of Morphine to the mountains of Morocco with local Berber musicians, with side trips into the Broadway pits of The Lion King and Wicked to sitting in with Medeski Martin & Wood.

Growing up in the wide expanses of Minnesota he assimilated the local sounds of Prince, Husker Du, and free-jazz coming out of the dinkytown/University of Minnesota milieu, before heading to Boston‟s Berklee College of Music in 1981. While enrolled as both a composition and bass performance major, saxophonist Russ Gershon recruited him for his band Either/Orchestra, with which Rivard recorded four CDs and got his first taste of national touring. Through E/O he also met and befriended two people who would remain prominent in his musical life for years to come: John Medeski and Mark Sandman.

After Berklee Rivard received a scholarship to study with jazz great Dave Holland at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada. Upon return to Boston he joined Sandman‟s band Hypnosonics and quickly became the go-to guy for producers such as Jon Brion and Mike Denneen in the late 80s/early 90s local indie scene based around Q Division and Fort Apache Studio. He began a busy session schedule that included major label releases for The Story, Jen Trynin, Morphine, Patty Larkin, Guster, and Aimee Mann, amongst others. More national and international touring followed with Jonatha Brooke, Paula Cole and world/jazz group Natraj.

Feeling equally at home on upright and electric basses, he found himself highly sought after for his quick ear and ability to read and to improvise, to play with a bow, as well as for having a knack for coming up with quirky, creative approaches to any musical setting, including the use of effects and extended techniques such as preparing the bass with the use of sticks and alligator clips. Maintaining an “anything goes” attitude, he is also able to adjust to more structured situations such as the Boston Pops, with which he has backed up artists such as James Taylor and Toby Keith.

Throughout the 90s and into the next decade he recorded and performed w/ a wide array of artists including folk icon Linda Thompson and son Teddy Thompson, soul & blues great Mighty Sam McClain, J.Geils singer Peter Wolf, G Love, Catie Curtis, Shawn Colvin, Dar Williams and jazz drummer Bob Moses. Inspired by the North African gnawa music that Sandman turned him onto, he picked up a Moroccan sintir (three-stringed bass lute) and with guidance from Hassan Hakmoun and malaam Mahmoud Guinea, he has become one of a handful of western musicians proficient on the instrument and has added it to his low-end arsenal, which also recently includes a bass kalimba (inspired by Congolese band Konono 1).

He puts these instruments to good use in Club d'Elf, the jazz-world-dub-electronica collective he formed in 1998 and has produced ten CDs for. The band has toured internationally and won numerous awards, and has featured many guests including Medeski, Sandman, Hakmoun, Marc Ribot, DJ Logic, Marco Benevento, and many others. Rivard received a grant through the US State Department to travel to Morocco in December 2009 as part of a cultural delegation, continuing his love for the music of that region and inspiring the latest Club d‟Elf release Electric Moroccoland/So Below, due April 11.

From world music with Hassan Hakmoun to free-jazz with Joe Maneri; from folk/country with Lori McKenna to hip hop & electronica with DJ Logic, Rivard treats each situation with the same level of respect, musical curiosity and deep understanding of the bass and its role in all styles of music.

"Rivard saves his best for last, closing with a head-twisting bonus version of “Shadow's Shift” in which his fingers dance upon the bass the way James Brown glides (well, used to glide) across the Apollo floor. Here his bass surveys the roaring funk of Larry Graham, the innovative fire of Tony Levin, the precision of Ron Carter, and the sheer audacity of Jaco Pastorius. You won't hear more bad-ass bass playing anywhere else...and I am glad, grateful even, to be among some of the first to hear it!" - Chris M. Slawecki,, reviewing Club d'Elf CD Athens, GA 3/28/03
Nicolas Ragonneau

Nicolas Ragonneau

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