Club d'Elf Release "Zeed Al Maal" Single & Video / New Album Out April 1

Article Contributed by Calabro Music Media | Published on Friday, March 18, 2022

Boston-based world-dub-jazz collective Club d'Elf have released "Zeed Al Maal," the third single and video (watch/share) from their upcoming double album, You Never Know, out April 1. A folk song from the Gnawa musical tradition, it was taught to Club d'Elf's founding member Mike Rivard by the legendary Moroccan musician Maalem Mahmoud Gania during a trip to Essaouira, Morocco several years back. Rivard would later share the song with his band, and ultimately record it during the sessions for what would become Club d'Elf's third studio album. Casablanca native and longtime Club d’Elf member Brahim Fribgane sings and plays oud while Rivard plays the guembri, a three-string bass lute.

"'Zeed Al Maal' was taught to me by one of the great Gnawa masters Maalem Mahmoud Gania. I visited him in his home in Essaouira during my trip to Morocco as part of a cultural delegation from the city of Somerville, MA," Mike Rivard tells Relix Magazine in the song's premiere at the outlet. "Over tea and smoke and the sound of the relentless rain on the roof, Mahmoud played the song and graciously allowed me to shoot video of him, which I went home and studied thoroughly. I had been listening to Mahmoud for many years (that's him on the Pharoah Sanders album The Trance of Seven Colors), and to be in the presence of one of my heroes—who treated me like an old friend—was one of the greatest experiences in my life. Back in Boston I taught the song to the band, and we finally recorded it during the sessions for You Never Know, live to analog 2” tape. Sadly, Mahmoud passed in 2015, and while we won't get to play him our version of his version of the song, we dedicate it to his memory."

Club d'Elf's You Never Know offers a fusion of jazz, gnawa and other North African traditional music influences refracted through a prism of contemporary psychedelia—Morocco turned technicolor. Over an hour and 15 minutes, the record unfurls upon kaleidoscopic clouds of spiced smoke, shifting from chopped dub-jazz through trance epics that reimagine Boston as a city of bazaars. Rivard was inspired to make the record after overcoming a life-threatening pulmonary embolism he suffered while on a spiritual quest in Peru.

In the studio, Rivard—joined by collaborators Dean Johnston (drums), DJ Mister Rourke (turntables), Paul Schultheis and John Medeski (vintage analog keyboards), Casablanca-native Brahim Fribgane (oud, vocals and percussion) and guitarists Duke Levine, David Fiuczynski and Kevin Barry—ceded the spotlight to the collective, allowing for free-play and improvisational dexterity. Through it all rides the trance, pulsing, calming and seeking mystic truths.

"It's kind of like driving a tour bus and stopping at various interesting destinations, pulling the bus over and letting everyone off, and then it's up to them, the musicians, to find their way into the experience, to create the music together, in the moment," Rivard explains. "Every voice is heard, is equally important, and can drive the music into places that I never would have envisioned of on my own. That's what really excites me—when I let go of the reins and the collective energy of the ensemble reaches a sort of hive mind state, and the spirits guide us."

Club d'Elf play seven Northeast shows in April to celebrate You Never Know's release. They begin the run at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY on April 1.

Tour Dates:
4/1 - Woodstock, NY - Levon Helm Studios
4/2 - New York, NY - Drom
4/8 - Portland, ME - Bayside Bowl
4/9  - Providence, RI - Columbus Theater
4/10 - Portsmouth, NH - The Music Hall
4/14 - Northampton, MA - Bombyx
4/15 - Pembroke, MA - Soundcheck Studios