The French clarinettist’s latest project is a close-knit chamber trio steeped in atmosphere, rhythmically astute and with a strong sense of place. Compositions unfold through shifting textures from electric guitar and keyboards and use a multiplicity of sources to capture the idea of journey captured by titles such as “A Migrants Day” and “Along The Niger”.
Mike Hobart, Financial Times
It’s not uncommon for artists to shake things up by changing personnel to explore roads previously untraveled, but few push themselves so relentlessly into new territory through revamped instrumentation as Louis Sclavis. Still, since coming to ECM with the auspicious Rouge (1992), the French clarinettist/saxophonist has always maintained continuity between recordings – cellist Vincent Courtois carried over from Dans La Nuit (2002) to Napoli’s Walls (2003), and percussionist François Merville showing up on L’imparfait des langues (2007) and Lost Along The Way (2009) five years after Dans La Nuit. With Atlas Trio’s Sources, however, the eversearching Sclavis eschews all past ECM affiliations in a previously unexplored instrumental configuration.
The result is, for Sclavis followers, paradoxically familiar and filled with the kind of surprise upon which the fearless composer/improviser has built his reputation. The trio context provides more inherent spaced, despite the potential for guitar and keyboards to create denser aural landscapes, especially given guitarist Gilles Coronado’s predilection for tart, slightly jagged-edged tones and Benjamin Moussay’s arsenal of piano, Fender Rhodes and other keyboards. […] Even in its most scored moments, Sources is predicated on the freedom of expression that’s been a cornerstone of Sclavis’ entire career. Here, however, even the clarinetist’s renowned unpredictability is trumped by a collective sound like no other, one that searches for – and finds – a new paradigm of contemporary improvised chamber music, and yet another milestone in Sclavis’ consistently impressive discography.
John Kelman, Allaboutjazz.com