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“…a commanding debut for his 12 Houses group.” Audiophile Audition reviews Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses – Solidarity

CD Review: http://www.audaud.com/matt-lavelles-12-houses-solidarity-unseen-rain/

Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses – Solidarity – Unseen RainUR9945.Solidarity Front

Big band free jazz is more than discordant noise.

Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses – Solidarity [TrackList follows] – Unseen Rain UR-9945, 48:52 [5/6/16] ****:

(Matt Lavelle – cornet, Flugelhorn, alto clarinet, conductor; Lee Odom – soprano sax, clarinet; Charles Waters – alto sax, clarinet; Ras Moshe Burnett – soprano sax, tenor sax, flute, bells; Tim Stocker – baritone sax, bass clarinet; Mary Cherney – flute, piccolo; Claire de Brunner – bassoon; Chris Forbes – piano; Laura Ortman – violin; Gil Selinger – cello; Anders Nillson – guitar; Jack DeSalvo – banjo, mandola; John Pietaro – vibraphone, percussion; François Grillot – doublebass; Ryan Sawyer – drums; Anaïs Maviel – voice)

Matt Lavelle likes to use the fullest spectrum of instruments as possible. The multi-horns player (cornet, Flugelhorn and alto clarinet) includes 16 musicians on Solidarity, his debut as the leader/conductor of 12 Houses. Lavelle also penned the six originals. Instead of pursuing a typical jazz big band or large ensemble approach, Lavelle focuses on sweeping improvising, with cues provided by his compositional writing. In other words, while there are moments of melodic, lyrical and harmonic construction, there are many more where instrumentalists apply elements of free jazz or open soloing.

Lavelle’s preliminary plan was to employ 12 musicians, embodying the 12 zodiacal signs. But he felt he could further supplement his music, so the group enlarged, and the opportunities for a range of sounds widened. This broad technique is heard on the 12-minute title track opener. Massed horns (clarinet, Flugelhorn, saxes, flute, bassoon and piccolo) are balanced alongside piano, a strings unit, guitar, vibes, bass and drums. Different players enter and leave during the lengthy tune, so sometimes the horns drop out, or the rhythm section is spotlighted. Throughout, there are striking touches from the horns, strings and rhythm instruments, which span from bright to dissonant. There is close to a constant sense of eddying as the band progresses from slow to a quicker pacing, and various solo or smaller instrument groupings create distinct portions among the greater whole.

One of the standouts is the nine-minute “Cherry Swing,” a tribute to the late Don Cherry, who initially came to prominence with Ornette Coleman but whose perceptions on improvisation came to the fore on his solo releases. “Cherry Swing,” Lavelle says, “represents the absolute core of my personal philosophy that free jazz never abandoned everything that made jazz what it is. Free jazz, set jazz free to be itself. Everything that makes jazz what it is, and why it’s so great, is even more important to strive for in free jazz.” Lavelle is upfront on cornet, emulating and echoing Cherry’s manner and musical viewpoint, while bass and drums craft a swinging foundation. Vibes are lower in the mix, inserting coloring to the percussive perspective. Banjo appears as well when Jack DeSalvo solos. For the most part, “Cherry Swing” is not a bigger-band setting, although the horns come in toward the conclusion to supply a discordant ending. Another memorable piece is “Knee Braces,” which indicates Lavelle’s issues with knee problems. The nearly ten-minute “Knee Braces” has a melancholy, almost dark nature exemplified by the reflective introduction. The arrangement becomes truly haunting when violinist Laura Ortman takes over, with extended dim tones which are at times reiterated by Gil Selinger’s cello. Ortman shapes a tender emotional magnetism throughout “Knee Braces,” even when other strings and the horns are occasionally utilized.

Minimalism is supported on the brief, 2:51“Moonflower Interlude,” a solo spot for bassoonist Claire de Brunner. Lavelle states, this “is a song sung by a secret society of little white flowers that only bloom in the moonlight.” The most poignant piece is the 9:33 “Faith,” dedicated to Lavelle’s mother, who miraculously survived three brain surgeries before passing away (webmaster’s note: Matt’s mom is very alive presently) Chris Forbes’ introductory piano sets the mood, which sways from peaceful remembrance to a hymn-like invocation accentuated by hand-clapping, Anaïs Maviel’s non-verbal voice, and DeSalvo’s banjo; and from frictional improvising to lyrical asides. Everyone in the ensemble contributes to build up a celebratory responsiveness. Forbes’ gentle solo piano adds the finishing sensitivity. “Faith” is a fully-formed sketch of a deeply-loved personality, and comprises the many feelings one has when thinking about an individual’s life. On Solidarity, Lavelle’s ambition to incorporate composition and improvisation, to stay true to his central philosophy, and to balance melodicism with free jazz has resulted in a commanding debut for his 12 Houses group.

TrackList: Solidarity; Brooklyn Mountain; Knee Braces; Cherry Swing; Moonflower Interlude; Faith.

—Doug Simpson

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All About Jazz Reviews 12 HOUSES – SOLIDARITY

Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses: SolidarityUR9945.Solidarity Front

Alberto Bazzurro By ALBERTO BAZZURRO
Published:

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1970, having played alongside William Parker and and being responsible for the reintroduction of the inimitable Giuseppi Logan a few years ago, Matt Lavelle directs this valuable work, recorded in November 2014, an ensemble of sixteen elements denoting, in the first instance, a vaguely mingus-like approach (with all Lavelle themes) beginning with a rather excitedly flowing tenor sax solo. Soon after, however, comes an exquisite chamber interlude of flute/vibes/arco bass  that disrupts our initial expectations.

It goes something like this for the entire disk, including crescendo and decrescendo, a new tenor solo vehemently grafted on the intermittent orchestral body (“Brooklyn Mountain”), then the voice, though producing quite different temperatures, purpose and articulation ( “Knee Braces”), reiterated by the excellent violin solo that followed, laying on plastic and calibrated orchestral strokes.

The receiver Lavelle is thenthe main protagonist in “Cherry Swing,” followed by spicy banjo,which is evidentNot negligible throughout the entire album, and bassoon, which, in short, is quite unusual in “Moonflower Interlude,” and then piano, with traces of classicism, in the much larger “Faith” that seals the work in the sign of a happy closing tension, .

Track Listing: Solidarity; Brooklyn Mountain; Knee Braces; Cherry Swing; Moonflower Interlude; Faith.
Personnel: Matt Lavelle: cornet, flugelhorn soprano, alto clarinet, run; Lee Odom: soprano sax, clarinet; Charles Waters: alto sax, clarinet; Ras Moshe Burnette: saxophone (tenor and soprano), flute, bells; Tim Stocker: saxophone (baritone), bass clarinet; Mary Cherney: flute, piccolo; Claire de Brunner: bassoon; Laura Ortman: violin; Gil Selinger: cello; Anders Nilsson: Guitar; Jack DeSalvo: banjo, mandola; Chris Forbes: piano; John Pietaro: vibraphone, percussion; François Grillot: bass; Ryan Sawyer: Battery; Anaïs Maviel: voice.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Unseen Rain Records | Style: Modern Jazz

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“…letting the music go where it must. ” Doug Simpson Reviews ROCCO JOHN QT’s EMBRACE THE CHANGE

unnamedRocco John Quartet – Embrace the Change – Unseen Rain  by Audiophile Audition/ July 11, 2016/ Jazz CD Reviews

New York City quartet which promotes changes, all sorts of changes.

Rocco John Quartet – Embrace the Change [TrackList follows] – Unseen Rain UR-9947, 67:49 [5/6/16] ****:

(Rocco John Iacovone – alto and soprano saxophone; Rich Rosenthal – guitar; François Grillot – double bass; Tom Cabrera – drums)

Alto and soprano saxophonist Rocco John Iacovone and his quartet make accessible avant-garde and free jazz; or rather the musicians produce free-ranging material that is challenging but which is not too demanding to enjoy. There is an engaging openness to the eight lengthy tracks on this 68-minute release, Embrace the Change. There’s a continual development throughout Iacovone’s originals, a sense that listeners might not know where they’re going to next, but will appreciate the shifts and curves along the way. Rocco John (he shortens his name for his album projects) explains the underlying concept for his latest recording, “Embrace the change is a thought, an idea, and a philosophy. It’s a comment on our evolution as human beings. It seems the only constant we experience is change and we constantly need to learn how to deal with it. To do this, we have to dig deep. These were the thoughts behind the compositions as I wrote them, and as we went into the studio.”

Rocco John studied with Lee Konitz and Sam Rivers, and learned composition from Nadia Boulanger; that education and his many years as an active member of the NYC jazz community has honed his abilities as performer and writer; and as collaborator and leader. All of Rocco John’s skills and talent fuse on this creative outpouring, where he is joined by other New York artists: guitarist Rich Rosenthal (who operates his own ensemble and has credits which include Mark Dresser, Joe McPhee and Dom Minasi); double bassist François Grillot (who also runs his own band and has worked with Jason Hwang, Daniel Levin and others) and drummer Tom Cabrera (who co-founded the Julie Lyon Quartet with his wife; and has recorded with other Unseen Rain label mates).

The foursome commences with the free-bop “Wings,” a 7:18 piece which defies easy expectations. The mutable harmonics, for example, mirror those often associated with Ornette Coleman (principally his 1970s or 1980s LPs), while Rocco John’s sometimes bleating horn honors John Coltrane. While it would have been simple to go overboard, the quartet maintains a defiant, but in no way overzealous, confidence in letting the music go where it must. The eight-minute “Circuits” envelops the notion that all people are connected, no matter a person’s racial background, religious history or political orientation. “Circuits” has a pronounced pace and nuanced progression, highlighted by Rosenthal and Iacovone’s twinned sax and guitar; Cabrera’s subtle brushes on cymbals; and Grillot’s bass lines. During this track, Grillot deftly brings to mind Dave Holland, due to Grillot’s superlatively understated rhythmic changes. The proceedings get more restless and edgy on “Escape,” where the quartet employs a tumbling tempo and head to liberating territory with intense but never extreme solos. Rocco John clarifies the tune is about the “need to escape the traps and think independently and creatively.”

Spirituality and belief is the focus of “Dial Up.” Iacovone discloses the eight-minute number “represents calling for assistance from the universe.” While the title implies an older conveyance of communication, “Dial Up” is modern creative music with an ear to the present, past and future all at once. Rosenthal’s lighter tone settles his guitar back a bit in the mix, while Rocco John’s sax is upfront and spotlighted throughout. Cabrera and Grillot sustain an advanced rhythmic approach which furnishes an off-kilter mannerism which befits this ever-moving composition. Another tune which links individuals to the cosmos is the longest piece, called “72s,” which Iacovone simply states, is a “connection to the Endless.” This track affords plenty of space and room for crisscrossed musical patterns which blend free jazz, post-bop, open improvisation and more, fashioning the album’s most comprehensive and multifaceted tune. One notable spot is a middle section where Rosenthal takes a fluid solo accentuated by Grillot’s beautiful arco bass. The Rocco John Quartet conclude as they begin, with an alternate rendering of the opening track, the 7:51 “Wings (Epilogue).” While this version is different from the first one, it shares the same attitude of nonconformity and inventiveness. Embrace the Change may be a smidge discordant or jarring at times, but it’s not harsh or rasping, and everything about the band’s methodology contributes to the perception that this is music that is intentionally open-minded and celebratory, but determinedly not strident or piercing.

TrackList: Wings; Escape; Circuits; Dial Up; Tango; Whispers; 72s; Wings (Epilogue).

—Doug Simpson

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Bird Is The Worm Recommends ROCCO JOHN QUARTET’s EMBRACE THE CHANGE on UR

Recommended: Rocco John Quartet – “Embrace the Change”

Rocco John – "Embrace the Change"There’s an appealing looseness to this session from  saxophonist Rocco John Iacovone, guitarist Rich Rosenthal, double bassist Francois Grillot and drummer Tom Cabrera.  Of particular interest is the way the guitar darts between the slowly drawled saxophone lines… which becomes more compelling when bass and drums send out bursts of rhythm that frame the sense of motion within.  Some tracks, like opener “Wings,” attain a head of steam and don’t relent, but then there’s tracks like “Escape,” where the quartet uses a casual tempo as the foundation on which to let loose with hyperactive solos.  This isn’t pretty music.  Embrace the Change is rough around the edges and everything about the delivery gives the impression that it’s not just intentional, but celebrated.  And it probably should be, because that decision gives the music its character.  Good stuff, and from a label (Unseen Rain) that keeps coming up with little gems.

Your album personnel:  Rocco John Iacovone (alto & soprano saxes), Rich Rosenthal (guitar), Francois Grillot (double bass) and Tom Cabrera (drums).

Released on Unseen Rain Records.

Jazz from NYC.

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Mark Sullivan’s Review of Dom Minasi – Jack DeSalvo: Soldani Dieci Anni on AAJ

Dom Minasi & Jack DeSalvo: Soldani Dieci Anni

Mark Sullivan By MARK SULLIVAN
Published:

Dom Minasi & Jack DeSalvo: Soldani Dieci Anni

Guitarist Dom Minasi is known as an experimentalist and free player, so there is much in this set of acoustic duets with fellow guitarist Jack DeSalvo that will confound expectations. Opener “The Indelible Delible” is a free improvisation with the expected outside playing and flurries of notes—but there is also some delicate textural playing. Then Minasi’s “Angela” announces a complete change of mood. It’s a beautiful bossa, with DeSalvo taking the lead on classical guitar, followed by Minasi’s acoustic flat-top steel string. It’s simply gorgeous, and straight ahead all the way.

DeSalvo’s “Aside” is a jazz tune, played on archtop guitars (credited in the album liners as “unamplified archtop guitars,” because they were recorded mostly acoustically). We’re not used to hearing unamplified archtop guitars on recordings: there’s really very little difference between this track and the previous one in terms of the guitar sound. Minasi takes the first solo, and his habit of singing his solos is especially pronounced here, but only distracting if you’re easily distracted by that kind of thing. I should note that there is sufficient stereo separation to make the two guitars easily differentiated.

The next two tracks again find Minasi composing in straight ahead mode. “Julia’s Dream” is a lovely ballad, both players on archtops. “Blues for TM” is indeed a blues, this time with Minasi on flat-top and DeSalvo on archtop (he turns in an especially effective solo here). DeSalvo’s contemplative title tune again shows both players in straight ahead (but conversational) mode. The final tracks are both improvisations, but with distinct identities. “The Bee and The Fly” has the active, somewhat random movement implied by the title. “Goodbye Greensleeves” is also true to its title, beginning in a calm, folksong-like mode. As the improvisation develops unpredictability and outside playing eventually dominate, with the piece rushing to its conclusion.

This was a very spontaneous collaboration. DeSalvo suggested it, and the pair got together once to try playing together. Minasi says they played mostly free, then he took out some of his straight ahead tunes “and the magic began.” So the free improvisations were recorded first, then they tried the original tunes—keeping first takes on everything. It’s the sound of two accomplished jazz guitarists immediately finding common ground, effortlessly moving from inside to outside, from composed to free.

Track Listing: The Indelible Delible; Angela; Aside; Julia’s Dream; Blues for TM; Solano Dieci Anni; The Bee and The Fly; Goodbye Greensleelves.Personnel: Dom Minasi: unamplified archtop guitar, flat-top steel string guitar; Jack DeSalvo: unamplified archtop guitar, classical guitar.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Unseen Rain Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde

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Listen to ANGELA from Soldano Dieci Anni :

 

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