Three Super-Fine Discs from Matt Lavelle* and His Chosen Few/Many:
All CDs available at DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY
MATT LAVELLE’S 12 HOUSES – Solidarity (Unseen Rain 9945; USA) In the past Matt Lavelle has worked mostly the solo, duo, trio and quartet contexts as far as being a leader. He has also been a member of several large units led by William Parker and Assif Tsahar. ‘Solidarity’ is Mr. Lavelle’s debut of his own large (16 piece) ensemble and you can tell how much work he put into this grand effort. 12 Houses was originally a 12 piece unit, inspired by the (12) signs of the zodiac. The group has played twelve concerts over the past few years and has expanded to sixteen members. Mr. Lavelle chose a few crew and you should recognize many of the names here: Ras Moshe, Anders Nilsson, Charles Waters and Ryan Sawyer, for starters.
The opening tune is the title piece and it is a grand intro, free yet completely focused with a burning tenor solo (Moshe?) and the powerful piano of Chris Forbes, another unsung local hero. There is a special central melody here which they repeat and slowly transform into something which picks you up and sweeps you away and erupts into an impressive explosion. The central theme continues to appear throughout, expanding and contracting and molded into different forms. A touching version led by the violin (Laura Ortman) and voice (Anais Maviel) is featured on “Knee Braces” and almost had me weeping due to its beauty. “Cherry Swing” is dedicated to the legendary trumpeter Don Cherry and features some of Mr. Lavelle’s most impressive playing. There are a couple of musicians here that I want to mention: the bassoon playing of Claire de Brunner and the voice of Anais Maviel. Both are marvelous and add some of their own special creative spirit to this already wonderful disc. Congratulations to Matt Lavelle for one of this year’s most modest and magical treasures! – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Complete personnel features: Matt Lavelle on cornet, flugelhorn, alto clarinet & conduction, Lee Odom on soprano sax & clarinet, Charles Waters on alto sax & clarinet, Ras Moshe on tenor & soprano sax & flute, Tim Stocker on bari sax & bass clarinet, Mary Cherney on flutes, Claire de Brunner on bassoon, Laura Ortman on violin, Gil Selinger on cello, Anders Nilsson on guitar, Jack DeSalvo on banjo & mandola, John Pietaro on vibes & percussion, Francois Grillot on double-bass, Ryan Sawyer on drums and Anais Maviel on voice. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MATT LAVELLE / JOHN PIETARO – Harmolodic Monk (Unseen Rain; USA)
In the work of both Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk, the dichotomy of ancient, pre-western approaches and extreme modernism live side-by-side so comfortably that one mistakes one for the other. Like the story that Ornette told of performing in a psychiatric hospital; once he started playing and looked out into the audience he couldn’t distinguish between the doctors and the patients.
Bela Bartok believed that new music must have deep roots in folk music, music of the earth, chthonic in that sense. Besides virtuosity as servant to meaningful expression, communication and sensitive interplay, what Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro reveal to us through this many-layered concept of uncovering new secrets in Monk’s compositions via the Harmolodic highway is their profound understanding that the root of all this is the Blues.
Ornette’s view of the Blues, like his late friend Buckminster Fullers view of the world, is multi-dimensional, here imbued with both Monk’s and Ornette’s focus on personal expression. Matt and John provide an extended view into myriad musical possibilities when Harmolodic Monk is in the hands of two improvisational masters. (from the liner notes by Jack DeSalvo)
SUMARI [MATT LAVELLE/JACK DeSALVO/TOM CABRERA] – Sumari (Unseen Rain; USA) Sumari features Matt Lavelle on trumpets, cornet, flugelhorn & alto clarinet, Jack DeSalvo on guitar, cello & mandola and Tom Cabrera on dumbeq, rik, frame drums & percussion.
No doubt you know Downtown ace trumpet & alto clarinetist Matt Lavelle from dozens of recordings and sessions. Guitarist Jack DeSalvo you might recognize from his work Ronald Shannon Jackson, Herb Robertson and Chris Kelsey’s Electric Miles Project. Mr. DeSalvo produced this disc and runs the Unseen Rain Records label. Percussionist Tom Cabrera is a new name for me.
Stripped down, acoustic and warmly recorded, this is a fine, relaxed trio. Mr. DeSalvo starts off on cello, often plucking out bass lines as the trio quietly soars together. Mr. Lavelle has a solemn, enchanting tone on alto clarinet. The trio plays with somber grace taking their time and letting the ghosts slowly dance together, as if nothing else mattered. There is something precious, rather quaint going on here. A subtle elegance which is soothing, thoughtful, like a cool breeze rustling the leaves in the Fall. Towards the end, the trio does erupt, cast off their chains and dance quickly amongst the ruins of modern civilization. The ancient spirits are slowly being revealed. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG