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Club D’Elf: Now I Understand

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Club d’Elf has been a mainstay on the Boston jazz circuit since 1998, which is why it’s surprising it’s taken the band until 2006 to make it to the studio. Anchored by bassist Mike Rivard, Club d’Elf’s debut studio recording boasts an ensemble of players, including core members Erik Kerr, DJ Mister Rourke and Brahim Fribgane, and an array of guests, including John Medeski, Billy Martin, DJ Logic and Mat Maneri.

Complete with ominous vocal samples (“Are you ready to die?”), gloomy bass lines and nebulous beats, Now I Understand is a dark and brooding CD. “Vishnu Dub” erupts with an explosion of noise before settling into a grinding dub groove that showcases Brahim Fribgane’s mesmerizing control of the Moroccan oud.

“Toy for a Boy” is a trip-hop take on a swing tune and it’s the album’s only cut with vocals (performed by Jenifer Jackson). While the song is ambitious, the result is creepy and unmemorable. The title track is the album’s most satisfying groove, with a stomping bass line and bold organ work by Medeski, the album’s most effective player. Rivard’s bass playing is solid as well, steadily leading the cast of players through 13 tracks.