Dawoud Kringle’s Review of The 12 Houses Orchestra

Concert Review: The 12 Houses Orchestra – The Next Phase In The Development of The Big Band

Date: March 14, 2015

Venue: The Firehouse Space (NY)
Review by Dawoud Kringle

As the cold of the winter of 2015 gave way to spring, I went to Brooklyn’s Firehouse Space to hear The 12 Houses Orchestrathe new project led by Matt Lavelle. I was interested to hear what they would sound like.

Photo courtesy of Matt Lavelle

Matt Lavelle has had an interesting career. Having begun with big band studies (including a high school band tour of the Soviet Union in 1988), he went on to study with former Billie Holiday and Count Bassie sideman Hildred Humphries. He went through his apprenticeship playing “straight” jazz, and later became a mainstay in the famed “Downtown Scene.” He’d played with William Parker, Sabir Mateen, Eric Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Daniel Carter, Roy Campbell, Jemeel Moondoc, and others. He’d also released four CDs as a band leader.

12 Houses are Matt Lavelle (cornet, flugelhorn, alto clarinet, conducting), Tim Stocker (baritone Sax), Charles Waters (alto sax, clarinet), Ras Moshe Burnett: tenor sax, flute), Sweet Lee Odom (soprano sax, clarinet), Laura Ortman (Violin), Stephanie Griffin (Viola), Gil Selinger(cello), Jack DeSalvo (guitar), Francois Grillot (bass), Chris Forbes (piano), John Pietaro (vibes),Ryan Sawyer (drums) and Anais Maviel (vocals)

When I arrived, the 15 piece ensemble was beginning a blues. Lavelle had said that he decided to break custom and play the blues earlier in the set. This was an interesting interpretation of blues theme, with an adventurous arrangement for the large group.

This was followed by a piece written by Lavelle’s student X. It was a very potent melody and harmonic structure, filled with delightful possibilities that the ensemble explored with imagination. Like the previous piece, it was indicative of a newer direction big band jazz has taken.

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The next piece was written about the brutally cold winter we had just recently endured. It had a Mingus- like quality throughout, and evoked the dark desolation and painful cold of the dead of winter eloquently. A highlight was Lavelle’s solo on alto clarinet. He knows how to bring out the tragically overlooked poetic quality of the instrument.

They finished their set with an uptempo powerhouse that invoked the work and vibe of Ornette Coleman and Daniel Carter.

The ensemble was marvelous. Highlights included solos by Ras Moshe Burnett (whose Coltrane-esque explorations drew unexpected life out of the pieces), Forbes, who deftly drew upon all possible styles, DeSalvo, whose ruminations invoked Ornette Coleman ‘s work over a lively uptempo and trombone, whose sense of melodic invention was beautiful.

Their second set began with a piece called “Daniel Carter Blues.” Moshe and Odom began a free improve duet that was occasionally punctuated by hits from the band. On occasion they played long unison note that were slightly out of tune; but the resulting beat frequencies produced a marvelous effect. A blues groove was established, and the piece morphed into a variety of moods as different soloists made their statements.

The next piece was introduced as a healing opening of the heart chakra (“You’re gonna be healed whether you want to or not!”). The piano opened with a beautiful solo. The band responded with a beautiful melody that brought out a gospel groove. “Church” was given a new meaning here.

The remainder if the set was equally incentive and adventurous. Each musician contributed something unique, and Lavelle proved himself a masterful composer and conductor. You must check out The 12 Houses Orchestra.

Dawoud Kringle’s Review of SUMARI

DooBeeDooBeeDoo NY

 CD Review: Sumari…An Extradimensional Music

SUMARIArtist: Sumari
Title: Sumari
Label: Unseen Rain Records
Genre: nu jazz/improvised music

Review by Dawoud Kringle

“The Sumari, therefore, appear in, or intrude into, the three dimensional system from other dimensions.” – Seth

Thus is the stage set for the music of Sumari.

Sumari is the new CD produced by Jack DeSalvo, and features DeSalvo on cello, guitar, and mandola, Matt Lavelle on trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, and alto clarinet, and Tom Cabrera on dumbeq, rik, drums, bass drum, and percussion.

A cello ostinanto in a smoothly executed cycle of 5 & ½ beats and brushes on cymbals opens the first track “Seth Dances.” A horn line eases in and fulfills the musical statement that began. The stark, minimal structure evokes a sense of movement within a vast space; a glacial landscape wherein at the forefront the piece’s namesake performs a dance invocation. One is confronted with the imagery in an intense, uncompromising impression upon the senses. After an impassioned consummation of the sound, the musicians wring out every possibility from the piece before drawing it to a close.

“Counterparts are Comparatively Encountered” starts with a free form dialogue between the cello and alto clarinet. Percussions lurk with mysterious playfulness in the background. Things take a decidedly jazzy turn without loosing the abstract setting the piece began with. Somehow, the group actually makes free form improvisation swing.

The remainder of the CD (no, I won’t go for a “song by song” breakdown. After all, I wouldn’t want to put any spoilers here!) has a lot of truly inspired moments.

Jack DeSalvo brings a simultaneous intimacy and expansion of tonal and musical ideas to the cello. On “The Gates of Horn” he makes imaginative use of the mandola. It was clear he was the axis, the musical foundation of this project.

Matt Lavelle upholds his well deserved reputation as a skilled and inspired musician. His work on this CD reiterates his position. That said, Lavelle’s work on the arcane alto clarinet is worthy of special mention. He has brought the instrument from the shadows and is showing the world her musical secrets that public prejudice has hidden.

Tom Cabrera’s work on this collection shows an amazing spectrum of musical ideas. His presence here is indispensable, yet his performance is subtle and almost subliminal in the way it insinuates both the necessary and the unique to this music.

The music on Sumari does what it promised. It opens the way for an extra-dimensional world to communicate its ideas and feelings to us.


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SUMARI – Matt Lavelle, Jack DeSalvo, Tom Cabrera

CD Available HERE

Review of Sumari from Russia

SUMARI CD Review from Russia
By Leonid Auskern

Jazz 6/14/2015 

Matt Lavelle (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, alto clarinet Jack DeSalvo (mandola, cello, guitars) Tom Cabrera (bodhrán, tar, riq, doumbek, bass drum, percussion)
Matt Lavelle (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, alto clarinet
Jack DeSalvo (mandola, cello, guitars)
Tom Cabrera (bodhrán, tar, riq, doumbek, bass drum, percussion)

Quite recently I happened to hear all three participants of the Sumari project when I reviewed the JULIE album by the Julie Lyon Quintet. On JULIE their instrumental skill drew attention to these musicians. But it’s one thing to accompany a vocalist in the performance of standards, and quite another to create your own project. We hear quite different music on Sumari and it’s reinforced by a spiritual component common to all participants. To illustrate this thesis, let us remember the extraordinary personality of Jane Roberts. This American writer would fall into a trance and channeled an otherworldly entity named Seth (basically, a name in Egyptian mythology). Roberts outlined Seth’s discourses in “Seth Speaks” and in a number of subsequent books which were of an ethical and metaphysical nature aimed at enhancing the capacity of human self-knowledge. Many years ago, Cabrera and DeSalvo got acquainted with the works of Roberts, leaving them a deep impression, and they casually turned on Lavelle to these ideas. The current CD booklet of the trio is equipped with quotes from Seth and Roberts and the name of the project and the album is a term from the books meaning “Federation of consciousness”. Without touching the more ideological component of the album, let’s go straight to the music.

I listened to this album with great interest and pleasure. All three musicians have already established a solid foundation in jazz, all three are closely connected with downtown culture of the New York avant-garde and all three are adept at free improvisation. To begin with, their instrumentation shows that this is no ordinary project; trumpet (and its variants) plus alto clarinet by Matt Lavelle. Jack DeSalvo on cello, mandola and guitar. Multiplicitous percussion instruments of various timbre and volume are played by Tom Cabrera. This is a three man orchestra of horns-strings-drums. Such a wide arsenal allows these players to make their music unusually rich and diverse. Their improvisations can be ethnically motivated (this is especially noticeable in the Counterparts Are Comparitively Encountered). Without losing the entire freedom of the music, what is visible is the melodic basis of all of the compositions. Impressive is the sky-high steaming trumpet, in which passages of just a few notes sometimes seem infinite, with literally hypnotic themes develop in “Alternate Presents and Multiple Focus”, while a highly energetic finale awaits you at “The Gates of Horn”. In short, a very unusual, very creative recording that is far from free-jazz excesses. This is how I would summarize my impressions of Sumari.


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Insightful Review of SUMARI by Pachi Tapiz on Tomajazz

Matt Lavelle / Jack DeSalvo / Tom Cabrera: Sumari (Unseen Rain. 2015. CD)

Matt Lavelle, Jack DeSalvo, Tom Cabrera_Sumari_Unseen Rain_2015

The trio formed by Matt Lavelle (trumpet, pocket trumpet, alto clarinet, cornet, flugelhorn), Jack DeSalvo (cello, guitar and mandola), and Tom Cabrera (various percussion), offers in Sumari a proposal of free improvisation that invites the listener to succumb to this music. When the label “free improvisation” appears in the description of an artistic proposal, in many cases we react with a litany of preconceptions (which I will not repeat here). This time the ensemble shows one of the multiple faces that are present in a genre so polyhedral.

On Sumari melodies dominate throughout the entire recording. This is coupled with the wide variety of timbres emanating from the vast number of  instruments employed by the three musicians; more than one dozen according to the list that is included in the folder of the CD. This include a wide variety of small ethnic percussion, both woodwind and brass instruments, in addition to the guitar, cello and the mandola. This different approach to presenting improvisation focuses on the interaction of the musicians forming an important essential element. “Reincarnational Civilizations” has an open, almost cinematic character. “Alternate Presents and Multiple Focus” has magnificent development; after a slow start in which trumpet established direction followed in his speech by his two companions, the piece increases tempo getting the twelve-minute elapsed in a jiffy.

The last two parts provide a new dimension to the music of the trio: “The Gates Of Horn” brings back to memory issues of traditional music, while the short “The Nature of Mass Events” refers to their roots,  African-American jazz, and is a great paradigm of how free improvisation can be just the opposite to what sometimes is it supposed to be. All this takes place after the magnificent beginning with “Seth Dance”, “Counterparts Are Comparetively Encountered” and “Scientific Cults and Private Paranoia” both allow the listener to focus on the ability of the trio to create instant melodies.

© Pachi Tapiz, 2015
Matt Lavelle / Jack DeSalvo / Tom Cabrera: Sumari Matt Lavelle (trumpet, Cornet, flugelhorn, Pocket trumpet, clarinet), Jack DeSalvo (cello, guitar, mandola), Tom Cabrera (percussion, dumbeq, rik, tambourine, bass drum) “Seth Dance”, “Counterparts Are Comparitively Encountered”, “Scientific Cults and Private paranoia”, “Reincarnation Civilizations”, “Alternate Presents and Multiple Focus”, “The Gates of Horn”, “The Nature of Mass Events” all music by Matt Lavelle , Jack DeSalvo, Tom Cabrera Recorded in Beanstudio, Wayne, New Jersey. Released in 2015 by Unseen Rain Records unseenrainrecords.com