Maybe because he is French, or perhaps simply due to his iconoclastic nature, clarinetist Louis Sclavis has a knack for producing provocative recordings that somehow seem unrelated to anything else in the musical world. Commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture in 1994, this suite incorporates a wonderfully melodic character that focuses on an unusual front line of clarinet (or soprano sax), trombone, and violin (acoustic and electric), supported by bass, piano, and drums. There is some spectacular improvising by all participants, but Sclavis and the highly underrated trombonist, Yves Robert, are particularly effective. Sclavis' compositions are anything but conventional, using rock rhythms, classical structures, and modern jazz harmonies to brush strokes of many colors. The hard driving drums of Francis Lassus give some of the tracks an appropriate pop feel, while elsewhere genres collide and mix, producing chamber jazz, avant garde harmonies, and everything in between. While Sclavis never lets it get too cute, there are occasional times when some of the solos could have used a bit of editing. Those who appreciate the remarkable writing and performance skills of Louis Sclavis will not be disappointed, though, and those who have yet to be introduced to this international innovator should find much to savor.
AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy