Asian Field Variations

Louis Sclavis, Dominique Pifarely, Vincent Courtois

EN / DE
Asian Fields Variation marks the first time that clarinettist Louis Sclavis, violinist Dominique Pifarély and cellist Vincent Courtois have recorded as a trio.  Sclavis summoned the project into existence, but this is a democratic group of creative equals:  “I proposed that we make a real collective, and each of us composes for the programme.”  For a ‘new’ group, it has a lot of pre-history: Sclavis and Pifarély have played together in diverse contexts for 35 years, Sclavis and Courtois for 20 years, but they retain the capacity to surprise each other as improvisers. “We’re drawing also on a lot of different playing experiences, and we’re continually bringing new things to the project. We keep going deeper.” The album was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines  last September, with Manfred Eicher as producer, and it is issued on the eve of a major French tour.  International  festival dates follow in summer 2017.    
Asian Fields Variation ist die erste Aufnahme, die Klarinettist Louis Sclavis, Violinist Dominique Pifarély und Cellist Vincent Courtois als Trio eingespielt haben. Auch wenn dieses Projekt von Sclavis ins Leben gerufen wurde, handelt es sich hier um eine demokratische Gruppe kreativ Gleichberechtigter: „I schlug vor, wie ein richtiges Kollektiv zu arbeiten, in dem jeder Kompositionen zum Programm beisteuert.“ Für eine ‚neue‘ Gruppe, hat das Kollektiv eine beachtliche Vorgeschichte vorzuweisen: Sclavis und Pifarély spielen bereits seit 35 Jahren in diversen Kontexten zusammen, Sclavis und Courtois seit 20 Jahren, wobei sich alle die Fähigkeit bewahren, sich immer noch improvisatorisch gegenseitig zu überraschen. „Wir können uns alle aus einer Fülle verschiedener Erfahrungen schöpfen und bringen kontinuierlich neue Impulse in das Projekt – wir dringen immer tiefer vor.“ Das Album wurde im September letzten Jahres im Studio La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines aufgenommen und von Manfred Eicher produziert. Es erscheint zum Ende einer ausgedehnten Frankreich-Tour – internationale Festivaltermine folgen im Sommer 2017.
Featured Artists Recorded

December 2015, Studios La Buissonne, Pernes les Fontaines

Original Release Date

17.03.2017

  • 1Mont Myon
    (Louis Sclavis)
    07:59
  • 2Done And Done
    (Vincent Courtois)
    02:01
  • 3Pensée Furtive
    (Louis Sclavis)
    01:11
  • 4Figure Absente
    (Dominique Pifarély)
    02:57
  • 5Asian Fields
    (Louis Sclavis)
    06:48
  • 6Digression
    (Dominique Pifarély, Louis Sclavis, Vincent Courtois)
    01:25
  • 7Fifteen Weeks
    (Vincent Courtois)
    04:36
  • 8Les Nuits
    (Vincent Courtois)
    02:47
  • 9Cèdre
    (Louis Sclavis)
    06:59
  • 10Sous Le Masque
    (Dominique Pifarély)
    03:30
  • 11La Carrière
    (Louis Sclavis)
    05:17
Album marquee, pas seulement à travers leurs compositions respectives, par la personnalité des trois improvisateurs, leur carriere, plus la marque de fabrique du producteur poète Manfred Eicher, maître du ‘son’ ECM. Cette musique de chambre, tous chevaux retenus (la puissance sonore, la volubilité, les errances drolatiques don’t ils sont parfaitement capables en d’auters contextes), ne peut êtres interprétée, à ce point d’hésitation entre l’ecrit et la composition de l’instant, que par des musiciens de jazz.
Francis Marmande, Le Monde
 
‚Abstraktion und Einfühlung‘, der Titel von Wilhelm Worringers berühmtem Buch, drängt sich auf, wenn wir nach den Polen dieser ungemein spannenden wie einnehmenden Musik fragen. Eine andere Polarität wäre Komposition und Improvisation, weitere wären Konsonanz und Dissonanz, polyphone Verflechtung und Entflechtung, kollektive und solistische Erfindung,  Verdichtung und Verflüssigung. Zwischen solchen Eckpfeilern entwickeln sich ziemlich beispiellose musikalische Selbst-, Zwie- und Dreigespräche, wobei Sprechen und Zuhören in wilder, aber nie anarchischer Gleichzeitigkeit ineinanderfallen können. Das ist für jeden und jede ungemein aufregend zu verfolgen, aus welchem Lager auch immer sie kommen mögen. Eine Musik – eine weitere Polarität! – die gleichzeitig leicht ist und von grossem spezifischen Gewicht.
Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche
 
Onze vignettes mentales venues de cette  poétique du jazz capable d‘éveiller l’esprit de contemplation , la sensation de l’univers entre ce qui serait la placidité d’un ciel bleu et la tourmente des orages.
Guy Darol, Jazz Magazine
 
Im Opener ‚Mont Myon‘ wird binnen Sekunden jene magische Atmosphäre der ‚folklore imaginaire‘ spürbar, mit der Sclavis‘ Stil assoziiert wird. Der schalmeien-ähnliche Ton  beschwört die Melancholie der Ahnen […] Gleichzeitig verteidigt die Musik von Sclavis stets ihren innovativen Charakter, alles und nichts wird dem Zufall überlassen. […] Immer spürt man die Arbeit, das Können, das Engagement für den Jazz. Wie Künstler, die in harter Arbeit Holzschnitte herstellen, sind ihre Interaktionen gleichsam eingekerbt für alle Zeiten.
Karl Lippegaus, Fono Forum
 
As much as Sclavis, Pifarély and Courtois are, indeed, a trio of equals on Asian Fields Variations, the clarinetist’s five compositions not only dominate the album in number; they do in time as well, occupying 28 of its 47-minute runtime. But while this means his imprint remains definitive, it in no way diminishes the contributions of his trio mates…[…] Beyond the extremes of both written and freely conceived music of the moment, ‘Asian Fields Variations’ is a challenging yet eminently impressive exploration of three instruments that mesh so seamlessly, at times, that they almost become a single voice born of an appealingly earthy, wooden timbre. An album that, more than any demonstration of individual acumen, fully meets Sclavis’ intent in forming a trio of equals, ‘Asian Fields Variations’ stands as a milestone in the clarinetist’s discography for ECM.
John Kelman, All About Jazz
 
Produced by Manfred Eicher, ‘Asian Fields Variations’ is a stellar ECM Records debut for the trio, a charming, whimsical, and often times mysterious collection of original compositions that fuses jazz, chamber, classical, and world music into a soaring sonic palette of sounds, melodies, textures, and colors. […] indeed a rich, enjoyable album guaranteed to deliver plenty of surprises and rewards to the listener.
Pete Pardo, Sea of Tranquility
Asian Fields Variations marks the first time that clarinettist Louis Sclavis, violinist Dominique Pifarély and cellist Vincent Courtois, long-time colleagues, have recorded as a trio.  Sclavis summoned the project into existence, but emphasizes that this is a democratic group of creative equals:  “I proposed that we make a real collective, and each of us composes for the programme.”  All three are major figures in contemporary French creative music: this is a new group with a lot of history. Sclavis and Pifarély have played together in diverse contexts for 35 years, Sclavis and Courtois for 20 years. As one can hear on the recording, they have retained the capacity to surprise each other – and their listeners  – as improvisers.  Alertness and freshness are key qualities here. “We’re always drawing also on a lot of different playing experiences.  And those experiences are reflected in what we write, and what we play. We’re continually bringing new things to the project, and we keep going deeper.”  
 
If the instrumentation – clarinet, violin, cello – implies a chamber music orientation, Sclavis suggests this is only part of the story. “What I am doing, as I’ve often done in the past, is just writing for the musicians.  So I ask myself simple questions: What does Dominique play best? What does he like to play? And Vincent? And how about me?  What do I love to play? And these considerations are the starting points. ” Each of the players has his own compositional signature, however, with Dominique Pifarély’s pieces being perhaps the most rigorously “written” here.  The balance of composition and improvisation, Sclavis notes, was also readjusted in the course of the recording session, produced by Manfred Eicher, at Studios La Buissone in Pernes-les-Fontaines in the South of France last September.  
 
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Sclavis (born 1953 in Lyon) originally encountered Pifarély  (born 1957 in Bègles) in the group of bassist Didier Levallet. “It was immediately a very good feeling to play with Dominique and I invited him to join my group for the recording Chine [IDA records, 1987].” This was promptly followed by the Sclavis/Pifarély Acoustic Quartet album on ECM.  “Altogether I must have played in around fifteen different formations and projects with Dominique.”  These include Les violences de Rameau, recorded in 1995 and 1996, featuring some flamboyant playing inspired by baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.
 
Vincent Courtois (born 1968 in Paris) was first asked by Sclavis to participate in a theatre music project in the late 1990s. “I found Vincent’s playing very touching, and we had a strong musical connection.” Courtois arrived in Sclavis’s band in time to participate in the recording of L’affrontement des prétendants in 1999, and can also be heard on the 2002 recording Napoli’s Walls.  The 2000 recording Dans la nuit, featuring Sclavis’s music for the silent movie by Charles Vanel,  marked the first occasion that Louis, Dominique and Vincent had appeared together on disc (in an ensemble completed by Jean-Louis Matinier and  François Merville).  They toured widely with the project: “In some ways it was the opposite of what we are doing now, because we had to match the music to images and we were trying to play exactly the same every night.  But for developing a sound together and for precision and discipline, it was very good for us.”
 
The first trio performances – “fifteen or sixteen years ago” – found Sclavis, Pifarély and Courtois on the road in Africa and South America.   After crossing each other’s paths repeatedly in the following years  (Pifarély and Courtois, in and out of Sclavis’s projects,  have often played duo concerts, and Sclavis has also guested with Courtois’ groups) all three came together again in 2013 for a project with Japanese pianist Aki Takase, which underlined the special musical understanding these players share.  
 
The trio was officially re-launched in March 2015 with a new programme of compositions premiered at the A Vaulx Jazz Festival, near Lyon.  Now, in Spring 2017, they undertake a French regional tour with concerts in Bessé sur Braye (March 17), La Ferté-Bernard (March 22),  La Flèche (March 28),  Saint Saturnin (March 29), La Roche sur Yon (March 30), Flers (April 1), Voiron (April 2),  Parigné- L’Evêque (April 4), Saint Berthevin (April 5 and 6), Strasbourg (April 7), Saint Florent le Vieil (April 9), and Poitiers (May 30).  International summer festival dates are currently being finalized.
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Louis Sclavis, Dominique Pifarély and Vincent Courtois have between them a rich, multifaceted discography on ECM.   In addition to his recordings as leader, Sclavis can be heard on the recently issued Ida Lupino with Giovanni Guidi, Gianluca Petrella and Gerald Cleaver; this quartet is also currently touring.  Dominique Pifarély has had two ECM albums released in the last two years, the solo violin recital Time Before And Time After and the quartet album Tracé Provisoire, with pianist Antonin Rayon, bassist Bruno Chevillon and drummer  François Merville.  He also appears on Poros with François Couturier and recordings with Stefano Battaglia (Raccolto and Re:Pasolini, the latter also featuring Vincent Courtois).   Courtois can furthermore be heard on In Touch with trombonist Yves Robert.
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 July 05 Festival Artenetra Melle, France
2024 August 20 Festival Uzeste, France
2024 September 26 La Courroie Entraigues sur la Sorgue, France
2024 September 27 La Courroie Entraigues sur la Sorgue, France
2024 October 09 Comédie de Reims Reims, France
2024 October 14 Jazz à L’ECUJE Paris, France
2024 November 05 Galerie Paul Fort Paris, France
2024 November 14 Jazz Club Dunkerque, France
2024 November 15 Jazz Club Dunkerque, France
2024 November 16 Jazz Club Dunkerque, France
2024 December 20 Le Triton Les Lilas, France