Bassist and composer Mike Rivard dropped by on Odyssey in May to talk about his band Club D’E’lf’s new recording, You Never Know, and revealed some of the roots of their eclectic mix of musical cultures. Rooted in large part in the very danceable but nonetheless complex rhythms of North Africa, and in the sound of the sintir, the bass lute that drives traditional Moroccan percussion ensembles, Mike and the group have come up with new music with that taps ancient grooves, but is very much alive in the present.

They have become something of a legend for their informal and invariably riveting performances at Cambridge’s Lizard Lounge over the last 25 years, and the new project illuminates the improvisational underpinnings that are the mark of their singular sound. The current band consists of many of the most respected musicians in the Boston area, including Duke Levine, Kevin Barry and David Fiuezynski (guitars), Brahim Fribgane (oud and percussion), John Medeski (keyboards), Dean Johnston (drums), and Mister Rourke (turntables and effects). This time instead of using overdubs and combined tracking, they all got together in the studio and just put down spontaneous performances in an effort to capture the spirit of their live shows.

Mike talked about how he had come across Ukrainian sand painter Kseniya Simonova’s remarkable work, which is also improvisational in nature, and how they ended up collaborating on a video of one of the band’s songs from the new album, “Dervish Dance” Here’s a link:

~ Dana

June 19- Venezuela is a complex mix of Caribbean, indigenous, and Latin musical styles- we’ll take a look at joropo artists who are tapping into old rhythms to come up with interesting new syntheses, with hints of salsa, rumba and gaita, a hugely popular style from the western provinces.

June 26- The ABC islands (Antigua, Bonaire and Curacao) are known as destination points for North American and European vacationers, but harbor some deep musical roots that are often overlooked, including influences from nearby Venezuela, Africa, and indigenous (pre-colonial) people. The language most spoken on the islands, Papiamentu, is also the delightful and lilting language of song there.