BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Silk and Salt Melodies, the umpteenth album by French clarinetist/composer Louis Sclavis, casts a wide net. Weaving together thick threads of jazz and classical music with strains of minimalism, French folk music and, thanks to guest percussionist Keyvan Chemirani, Iranian music, Sclavis and his regular pals Gilles Coronado (guitar) and Benjamin Moussay (keyboards) lay out an intricate tapestry of sound that balances improvisation and composition. “L’homee sud” and “Sel et soie” use jazz as a driver, Sclavis, Coronado and Moussay keeping up with each other note for note. The tune of “Des feux lointains” boasts a more classical feel, around which Sclavis improvs like a fiend. “Dance for horses” revolves around a Kurt Weillish melody with a rumbling rhythm evoking the title animals in full flight. “L’autre rive” uses the kind of melody emanating from a French cafe in the movies as a springboard for lush beauty. “Dust and dogs” begins with Sclavis essaying another classical tune before Moussay and Chemirani take it into the improvisatory stratosphere.
Throughout the players exhibit sensitivity to the needs of the song, going for austerity when it’s called for and joyful noise when it’s not. Silk and Salt Melodies avoids easy categorization, but embraces melody and fun.
DOWNLOAD: “Sel et soie,” “Dust and dogs,” “Dance for horses”