Between 1990 and 1993, drummer Aldo Romano, clarinet/saxophone player Louis Sclavis and double bass player Henri Texier completed two tours of Central and West Africa organised by the network of cultural centres in Africa. With the objective of reconnecting with the African roots of jazz, the musicians gave a series of concerts at various festivals but more importantly immersed themselves in the lives of the town and villages they passed through. As a result, many outdoor improvised jam sessions with local musicians took place during those tours. The whole experience was beautifully documented in a series of black and white photographs by Guy Le Querrec.
More tours and sessions ensued during the 1990s and early 2000s, all of which generated an incredibly rich creative output for the trio in the form of three recordings: Carnet de Routes (1995), Suite Africaine (1999) and African Flashback (2005).
Taking their cues from the poly-rhythms of the African musicians and dancers they encountered on their travels and fusing it with their European roots, the musicians produced a wonderful free-flowing jazz. This raw energy is palpable in a track like “Entrave” which concludes the first volume of the trilogy, with Louis Sclavis launching almost immediately in an ecstatic chorus.
As an epigraph to the introduction to the Carnet de Routes CD booklet with photographs, the musicians had this very appropriate quote from author André Gide’s “Feuilles de route” (1896):
“At three, they execute true pieces of rhythm: an uneven rhythm, strangely chopped by syncopations, driving one wild and provoking all sorts of stirring of the flesh.”