“Creation rather than imitation.” Jack Goodstein Reviews Pat Hall’s Time Remembered

Fronting a quartet featuring the Hammond B-3 organ of Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis, the guitar of Marvin Sewell and Mike Campenni on drums, trombonist Pat Hall runs through a set of seven tunes on this release—four, including an epic reading of his “Waltz for Debby” are Evans originals. One is by his bassist bandmate Scott LaFaro (“Gloria’s Step”), one Evans favorite (“Elsa”) is from longtime collaborator Earl Zindars, and there’s a Rodgers and Hart classic, “Spring Is Here.”

If nothing else, Hall’s chutzpah in creating a tribute to one of the truly great jazz pianists with a piano-less ensemble deserves credit for originality. Instead of taking the conventional route, flattering by imitation—certainly not the most creative of approaches—he honors a great jazz artist as a jazz artist should by using his work as a foundation to build something new. Creation rather than imitation. Let’s face it, if all you’re going to do is copy, why bother? We can better listen to the original.

From the very first tune “Gloria’s Step” through “Elsa” and “Time Remembered” to the album’s closer “Peri’s Scope,” this is an album that both showcases Hall’s virtuosity on the trombone and the vitality of Evans as a continuing inspiration for creative expression.

Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans was released in August.


Disc of The Year – A Review of Harmolodic Monk From Russia

This great album may well claim the title of “disc of the year”. Formally it belongs in the category tribute album, but it was too different from the usual work of this kind. Especially because we have a double tribute here. One character of this tribute is quite obvious: his name is on the cover. Interest in the work of Thelonious Monk and his ideas over the years, like a noble wine, gaining momentum.I usually don’t point out in my reviews an album’s tracklist, but in this case I want to bring it out fully. So, a program of the album made the following pieces of the famous pianist and composer: Epistrophy; Pannonica; Green Chimneys; ‘Round Midnight; Crepuscule with Nellie; Nutty; Ruby, My Dear; Let’s Cool One; Blue Monk; Monk’s Mood, In Walked Bud – almost all of the most famous and regularly performed Monk tunes .And now for the second hero tribute, whose name is immediately identifiable if not to the ordinary jazz fan, certainly to the advanced one. He, of course, linked the definition of “harmolodics” with his philosophical concept of music, Ornette Coleman. The man, whom many consider the father of free jazz (and only this term in any case originated in the title of his album), created his, frankly, somewhat confusing and vague theory harmolodics (in this word he combined the concept of “harmony”, “movement “and” melody “, of course, in their English sound). In a nutshell, it is based on the same principles as in the free jazz – atonality, polymodality, rhythmic freedom and so on, but also focused on the  crucial role of the individual musician.

So, a collection of great Monk music performed in this project from the standpoint of Coleman’s harmolodic theory.
Well, now it’s time to move on to the creators of the project. There’s two of them, so that we are dealing with a difficult to execute and not always easy to grasp duo. By the way, Monk – pianist, Coleman – saxophonist, but these are not the tools you’ll hear on the Harmolodic Monk album. Tools for this duo did are quite formidable. Matt Lavelle plays the cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet, and his colleague John Pietaro – vibraphone, congas and other percussion, including an Irish drum bodhrán (according to experts Gaelic word correctly transcribe it that way). Trumpeter Matt Lavelle’s (b.1970) work has been through a series of metamorphoses: he began to swing, then played the mainstream, but at the end of the last century became friendly with the Downtown Music in New York, became inveterate avant-garde. In 2005, Matt then took lessons from Ornette Coleman. Apparently, it was then that he was filled with harmolodic ideas, and certainly since then introduced into their arsenal of tools the alto clarinet, to evaluate the sound in his performance you will be able to hear it on the first track Epistrophy. John Pietaro not only a musician, but is also a publicist. In both guises the Brooklyn native professes the most radical views on art and also belongs to the circle of brilliant masters of avant-garde jazz.
I will not go into the details of the presentation Monk’s music in duet in terms of theories of Coleman, and advise you not to dwell on it. Better to just listen to the exquisite sounding (wind +  vibraphone and percussion), to the original creative interpretation and this just extraordinarily interesting music. I can only say that the version of ‘Round Midnight by the duo Lavelle- Pietaro seemed to me one of the best ever heard before. I strongly advise not to miss this album!

– Leonid Auskern
© & (p) 2014 Unseen Rain Records
10 tks / 73 mins
(Matt Lavelle – cornet, flg, alto cl; John Pietaro – vibe, bodhrán, congas, perc;)

“like a shout to the gods” – Michael Dougherty’s Review of Harmolodic Monk


Matt Lavelle, John Pietaro: “Harmolodic Monk” (2015) CD Review

Harmolodic Monk, the new CD from Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro, is an interesting jazz album taking the musical philosophy and approach of Ornette Coleman and applying it to compositions by Thelonious Monk. The results are sometimes soulful, sometimes emotional. These tracks often have a loose, exploratory feel that gets a bit trippy at times, but is always interesting. They mainly stick to Monk’s most well-known material, such as “Round Midnight,” “Ruby My Dear” and “Blue Monk,” but also tackle lesser known work, such as “Pannonica” and “Green Chimneys.” And it’s worth noting that on an album of Monk compositions, there is no piano. Matt Lavelle is on cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet; John Pietaro is on vibraphone and percussion.

Harmolodic Monk opens with “Epistrophy,” which begins with a thoughtful, lonesome horn, and soon adds little touches on percussion that make me think of an alley late at night. Then it’s as if the sounds themselves gather confidence, dare to express more, becoming more sure of their surroundings. Interestingly, there is some work on the vibraphone that is almost haunting, whereas I usually associate that instrument with a happier tone. And those happier tones do exist in this piece as well. The voices of the instruments on this track aren’t always pretty, but are always expressive.

Things get a bit more wild and energetic on “Green Chimneys.” This track has a loose, celebratory feel, like a shout to the gods, with the percussion designed to send dancers into a whirling joyful madness, and the horn like a proclamation.

“Round Midnight” begins slowly, almost tentatively, with largely mellow work on the vibraphone. The horn comes in beautifully, with a gentle, romantic bluesy bent, then rising at moments to passionate, unbridled heights before the song ends softly, drifting off.

A really nice horn solo makes “Let’s Cool One” one of the highlights of the disc, with Matt Lavelle dropping hints of that main theme, then going fully into it as John Pietaro comes back in on vibraphone. “Blue Monk” is another highlight for me, for it is at times playful, with a sense of humor, but also with some great work from both musicians, particularly by Matt Lavelle. Even the pauses are interesting. Monk is of course known for working dramatic pauses into his compositions, and Lavelle and Pietaro are able to make their own effective use of that device. And toward the end there are great short bursts like joyful shouts.

Harmolodic Monk concludes with a cool take on “In Walked Bud,” with moments when they cut loose, trading solos.

CD Track List

  1. Epistrophy
  2. Pannonica
  3. Green Chimneys
  4. Round Midnight
  5. Crepescule With Nellie
  6. Ruby My Dear
  7. Let’s Cool One
  8. Blue Monk
  9. Monk’s Mood
  10. In Walked Bud


“The Best Cure For The Blues”: A Review of Julie from Russia

UR9957.JLQnt_back_c1At the time of this writing, from the author‘s window, the view is of wet snow mixed with rain. In such nasty weather the debut album of the Julie Lyon Quintet is the best cure for the blues. Anyway, I would warm it up with mugs of anything hot or glasses with anything firewater. Julie will give you almost an hour of warm, sincere and very cozy jazz. This American vocalist and her partners do not seek to create some bold experiments, avant-garde delights or to display the power of the voice. The voice of Julie Lyon is not about free rein sound but rather depth of experience and the aura of the truth of jazz will not leave you from the first track to the last.

The program of the Julie album is songs from different times and different atmospheres. There are classic jazz standards, such as Bye Bye Blackbird or two evergreens, Cole Porter‘s Love For Sale and Every Time We Say Goodbye, a charming example of Brazilian jazz Dindi by Jobim, and next Strollin by Horace Silver, Too Damn Hot by Dr. Lonnie Smith with lyrics by Julie Lyon and the finale, Tom Wait’s Temptation. For each song, starting only from the text (without using, for example, scat) , Julie Lyon is able to create her own, special atmosphere. Personally, I feel especially close to the fun, even playful mood prevailing in Dindi, the pulsating swing of Too Damn Hot and the brilliant interpretation of Temptation.

All the tracks are arranged so that you can really listen to the quintet and not just a singer with an accompanying ensemble. Virtually every one of instrumentalists has ample opportunity to demonstrate their skills. I emphasize here Matt Lavelle’s solo trumpet in Bye Bye Blackbird and Temptation, his alto clarinet in Dindi, the artful guitar of Jack DeSalvo in Comes Love and his duet with bassist Bobby Brennan in Born To Be Blue, as well as Tom Cabrera’s opening drum solo in All Or Nothing At All.

According to the press release, the album Julie will go on sale in January 2015, although the cover indicates it was recorded in Paramus, New Jersey in 2013. I do not know what caused such a substantial gap between the two dates, but this is the case when you want to say, better late than never.

– Leonid
Auskern, http://jazzquad.ru/index.pl?act=PRODUCT&id=3973

CD available HERE.



“Special Sauce” : Julie reviewed by Midwest Record

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UNSEEN RAIN JULIE LYON QUINTET/Julie: It’s interesting to see that the new generation of jazz divas can draw water from the same well but still manage to spike the drink with a special sauce of their own that gives them some distinctive real estate to plant a flag on. Certainly a classic feeling thrush, Lyon is sassy and saucy seemingly taking Birdland to the tea pad after hours with the jam going in full force. Same church, different pew—this one’s filled with the bad kids hanging out in the back. Fun stuff.

CD Available HERE.