Nicole Johänntgen & Jack DeSalvo in Duo
Text: Stefan Pieper
Zurich, July 21, 2020 | Nicole Johänntgen, born in Saarland and now living in Switzerland, met guitarist Jack DeSalvo in New York – the new CD “Lumens” was created in a spontaneous session.
In a combo, the role of the saxophone is often clearly defined: soloist always at the forefront, it’s about solo presence and often – just because of the volume and pitch – about dominance. In a duo, especially with a naturally much “quieter” dialogue partner, things can look very different. Nicole Johänntgen is definitely predestined for the right measure on her alto saxophone when she meets the experienced New York guitarist Jack DeSalvo on the new album “Lumens”. By the way, the two met at a free jazz session – the opposite of two in the studio!
The Swiss citizen does not have to deny her latent leadership role, because that alone results from her good gift of letting a smooth line flow with crystal-clear intonation and elegantly low-vibrato tone. Which alone allows the imaginatively composed pieces on “Lumens” to come together to form a smooth line. The fact that so much subtlety is revealed here, that many imaginary stories without words take shape in the imagination and the listener is invited to be carried away into emotional spaces, that alone may be due to the curiosity of the Swiss citizen who has been doing this in recent years The possibilities of expressing her instrument have been explored in many contexts and, above all, have been emphatically filled with individual personality.
Guitarist JackDeSalvo provides a reliably transparent harmonic framework for this, provides for interventions that speak out of themselves and comes out of cover again and again in filigree improvisations.
Quite a bit oriented towards Bossa Nova figures, the guitar pulsates in the opening piece, about which the saxophone fantasizes in wide awake arches. A charming announcement by Nicole Johänntgen follows afterwards when it comes to a “good morning song”. Such a song-like, yet subtly designed directness changes with more elaborate forms, for example in the longer pieces “Has Never said a word” or Reappearing Sun “. But here, too, there remains a perfect “commitment to each other”, which came about spontaneously.
Unseen Rain 2020
JAZZ Sparks of light emitted: “Lumens” by Nicole Johänntgen & Jack DeSalvo
Nicole Johänntgen, jazz saxophonist from the Saarland municipality Fischbach-Camphausen, is known for her energetic playing. Usually, it brings every room to a boil, but in times of corona, quieter tones are popular. Together with New York guitarist Jack DeSalvo, Nicole Johänntgen has released a new CD: “Lumens”, released by the label Unsee Rain Records.
The title of the new CD comes from the Latin word light. For the saxophonist and her guitarist, it is not just a symbol of a spark of light that is supposed to brighten the mind in this difficult time.
Because “Lumens” was recorded in New York, where the musician met Jack DeSalvo with a free jazz orchestra. The two immediately sparked on the same wavelength and spontaneously suggested to take a picture, Nicole Johänntgen said no.
“We had four or five compositions, Jack wrote some of them, I brought some and we played some of them for the first time in the studio, not even rehearsing them properly. One or two passes and you’re done.
The rest were actually free compositions. We wanted to see where the trip was going. That’s the tingling thing about the music: I actually want to be put in the cold water to see what comes out of it. ”
Perfect balance with a lot of dynamism
Nicole Johänntgen and Jack DeSalvo pulled out all the stops during the recording session for “Lumens”. Guitar and saxophone play hands-on with the topics and find the perfect sound balance.
“Above all, I love soft and low tones, occasionally swinging upwards into the heights and sometimes wild and tender.
But it was the combination with the beautiful acoustic guitar that made me reach into my treasure chest with a lot of dynamism. ”
The concept album is a small piece of silver
The album “Lumens” is not only recommended because a spontaneous session was perfectly captured. The quality of the pieces by Nicole Johänntgen and Jack DeSalvo is also very convincing. Without a driving beat and without a junk, the concept album is a small piece of silver that can be listened to with great profit.
“For me, Lumens means that we send out sparks of light and they flow somewhere and we start somewhere and we end up somewhere and that is also a concept of the CD. Own songs – but also the freedom to start somewhere and travel somewhere. ” – Nicole Johänntgen
Aurora Borealis / Evolutions / What If The Moon Were Made Of Jazz. 62:08.
Rocco John Iacovone – as, ss, p; Ras Moshe Burnett – ts, flt, bells; Michael Lytle – b clt; Sana
Nagano – vln; Rich Rosenthal – g; Phil Sirois – b; Dalius Naujo, d; John Pietaro – perc. 12/26/2014,
New York City.
The passing of saxophonist Will Connell in 2014 was felt deeply throughout
New York’s jazz community of forward thinking players. Connell was probably
not well-known outside that small enclave. But his history was deep and he
was involved with the free jazz movement on both coasts. During the early 70s,
he moved to the West Coast and hooked up with Horace Tapscott’s Pan-African
People’s Arkestra as a copyist and player. But by the middle of the decade he had
moved back to New York and immersed himself into that city’s free jazz loft scene.
His skills as a copyist led to working with Ornette Coleman on revisions of “Skies
Of America”. He also worked and recorded with William Parker, Sam Rivers, Butch
Morris, Chico Hamilton and many others as both a copyist and player. As things
developed, he showed his generosity by working with players who were just emerging
in the 1990s/2000s. One of his last projects (in 2014) was as a member of a trio
organized by trombonist Steve Swell with drummer Reggie Nicholson. Sadly, he
passed away a month before he was to put on a week’s residency at The Stone.
Among the players he bestowed his generosity upon was saxophonist Rocco John
(Iacovone). John was one of the players Connell was going to feature in his Stone
residency. That residency went on despite Connell’s passing and became a tribute
to him. Peace And Love was recorded during it. But rather than a mournful cry, the
band’s set had a spirit of energy and affirmation of the existence of a good friend
and mentor. John had assembled an eight piece ensemble called the Improvisational
Composers Ensemble. That night, the band played three pieces by John all given
lengthy interpretations and featuring the players in solos. While some of the band
members have a bit of notoriety (including saxophonist Ras Moshe Burnett and
bass clarinetist Michael Lytle), the others are all lesser known but on the basis of this
recording deserve a hearing.
While all pieces have something to recommend them there are some truly notable
moments. “Evolutions” has a wistful melody beautifully etched by violinist Sana
Nagano. The piece also has tinges of those modal “Egyptian” melodies that Sun Ra
often used. “What if The Moon Were Made Out Of Jazz” at nearly 23 minutes goes
through several changes. The opening contains a fiery alto sax / drummer dialogue
between John and drummer Dalius Naujo. Throughout the set Naujo propels this
music as well as adding subtle shading during the quieter interludes. Things wind
down for a piano interlude by John before guitarist Rich Rosenthal enters for a
sustained interlude that seems like a quiet meditation on a departed friend. For this
listener it’s the highlight of the disc. Bassist Phil Sirois follows with a lovely solo before
the music ratchets up again for a fiery solo by Burnett, a wonderful solo by violinist
Sana Nagano and conclusion. The entire set comes together to work as a fitting tribute
to a man who had a lot more influence on the New York scene that most people
realize. And John is to be credited for organizing this wonderful tribute. Those who
are curious should seek out the music of Connell, Rocco John and the rest of these
players. – Robert Iannapollo
Matt Lavelle Quartet, s/t (Unseen Rain)
Matt Lavelle is well known within the lower Manhattan avant-garde jazz scene, but not so much outside it. His primary outlet is the large ensemble 12 Houses, which can feature as many as 16 members. This quartet album finds him backed by pianist Lewis Porter, bassist Hilliard Greene, and drummer Tom Cabrera on a collection of tunes that take hard bop to the edge of freedom but never tip all the way over; Lavelle loves his Ellington and blues as much as the cry of 1960s players like saxophonist Giuseppi Logan, with whom he’s had a long personal and professional relationship. Lavelle plays trumpet, flugelhorn, and alto and bass clarinets on the album, and the pieces vary from Coltrane-esque meditations (“Tamir Rice” is practically a new version of “Alabama”) to jumpy uptempo numbers (“Matt’s Mode,” “Matt Bop”) to gospelized blues vamps (“Fear Has Got To Go”).
Stream “Tamir Rice”:
Get MATT LAVELLE QUARTET at:
It makes sense that Matt’s Mode by MATT LAVELLE QUARTET on UNSEEN RAIN is on UK VIBE Top 20 Modern Jazz ‘compositions’ of 2017. Matt is the epitome of the jazz composer whose music is designed to bring out the best in improvisers with an eye on the entire history of jazz. Matt himself is not fond of top 10/20 lists, but we at Unseen Rain are very fond of this one. You can get MATT LAVELLE QUARTET at HD TRACKS or here: MLQ.
By Dee Dee McNeil, https://musicalmemoirs.wordpress.com/
ROCCO JOHN IACOVONE – “PEACE AND LOVE”
Unseen Rain Records
Rocco John Iacovone, alto & soprano saxophone/piano; Ras Moshe Burnett, bells/tenor saxophone/flute; Sana Nagano, violin; Michael Lytle, bass clarinet; Rich Rosenthal, guitar; Phil Sirois, bass; John Pietaro, percussion; Dalius Naujo, drums.
I was eager to review this piece of art, mainly because of the CD title. I, myself, always answer my phone, “Peace and love” and it’s really my life mantra. Like Rocco John Iacovone, I recognize we need people to reflect and embrace more peace and love on earth. Consequently, I was eager to experience music that boasted an inspiration for the goodness of love and peace in three musical Suites. The first reflects the “Aurora Borealis”; the second is composed in consideration of “Evolution” and the last Suite is titled, “What If the Moon Were Made Out of Jazz?”
Rocco John Iacovone has long been a major influence in New York’s improvisatory musician’s community. As a student of Sam Rivers and Lee Konitz, his alto and soprano saxophone talents reflect Avant Garde inspiration. He founded the Improvisational Composers Ensemble (ICE) as an outlet for music specific to featuring improv as a major compositional element. “Peace and Love” is his fourth album as a leader and composer. His ensemble generously reflects the premise of freedom and creativity. They band together to compliment his original music, with ample time given each musician to express themselves within each suite. This recording was made “Live” inside “the Stone” (John Zorn’s place) to a standing-room-only audience. It is dedicated to the memory of Will Connell, who had encouraged Rocco’s residency and ultimate recording venture, but passed away November 19, 2014, before he could witness the dream come to fruition. Connell received a CAPS grant for orchestral composition and as a copyist/arranger/sideman, Will Connell worked for musicians ranging from Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack to Horace Tapscott, Sam Rivers, Elton John, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Rocco said, “Will used to sign his emails, “Peas and Lub”. So this CD, ‘Peace and Love,’ is dedicated with much love to the spirit of Will Connell.”
Dom Minasi Jack De Salvo – SOLDANI DIECI ANNI: Something I didn’t know – Dom and Jack had never recorded together before this splendid improvised guitar session was captured in November of 2015, and released in 2016. Due to “senior moments” on my part and a failure to enter it into my database properly, it’s languished for awhile… but, don’t let that deter you from exploring with these fine improvisors… as you listen to the excellent opener, “The Bee and the Fly“, you’ll be improvising right along with them (in your head), filling in the spaces between the flowers that the insects are traversing, lol. There are moments where I’m reminded (most strongly) of another improving guitarist friend of mine, Davey Williams, on the short (3:03) track titled “The Indelible Decibel“… the high-flight “runs” from both Dom and Jack will hold your attention, as you (sonically) gaze in awe! My personal favorite of the eight improvisations offered up, though, is the 8:37 “Blues for T.M.“… it’s very clear these two giants in the improv world had a blast playing this, and their talent just shines right on through, with some of the heaviest blues licks you’ve EVER heard in an improvised guitar walk. I give Dom & Jack a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this superbly crafted album. Get more information at the BANDCAMP page for this album (& be sure to tell them you read about them here when you purchase the release, of course). – Rotcod Zzaj
ROCCO JOHN QUARTET EMBRACE THE CHANGE
Wings / Escape / Circuits / Dial Up / Tango / Whispers / 72’s / Wings (Epilogue). 67:54.
Rocco John Iacovone (as, ss), Rich Rosenthal (g), Francois Grillot (b), Tom Cabrera (d). March 2015, Riverdale, NJ.
What’s not to like about a fine quartet of superb but under-appreciated players working that sweet spot between post-bop and the outside? The date opens up with a nice tasty drum spotlight, followed by the leader’s fulsome alto lines, both fleet and tart. In time, they cede the spotlight to the excellent Grillot and Rosenthal, whose clean tone and buzzing lines I really dug, not least because they make for an excellent contrast with Iacovone throughout. Some vigorous, bustling post-bop ensues on the exuberant “Escape,” whose loping unisons move through a nice series of overlapping lines, bobbing up and back, with slight intensities welling up here and there. The further one gets in listening to this group, it’s not too unlike one of Joe Morris/Rob Brown’s more inside dates, at least in terms of the compositional/structural approach; the actual instrumental languages differ, as is obvious on the stair-stepping “Circuits,” where Rosenthal’s nimble, inventive playing brings some serious energy. He and Iacovone romp on the funky, shuffling “Dial Up” and are equally impressive on the abstract, balladic “Tango” (which only hints at its musical inspiration). “Whispers” meanders just a bit to my ears, though it’s certainly filled with nimble playing and excellent instrumental interaction – perhaps just not enough thematic meat for what these guys are trying to accomplish. Things are very much back on track with “72s,” where the fabulous work from Grillot and Cabrera sets up some of the record’s finest improvising from the leader and the guitarist. Closed out by a nice, mid-tempo second version of “Wings,” it’s a strong date overall.
Jason Bivins – Cadence
“Solidarity” has a massive singsong sound that serves as the backdrop to a furious tenor solo by Ras Moshe Burnett and a keening cello and flute duet. “Brooklyn Mountain” starts out as a slow, writhing mass before Burnett and pianist Chris Forbes
break out for a wriggling excursion into Cecil Taylor country. “Knee Braces” has a warmer, more low-key swarming sound allowing Laura Ortman space for a searing violin feature and “Cherry Swing” gets a nice funky groove underway with the leader’s buzzing cornet and Anais Maviel’s voice out front. “Moonflower Interlude” is a short bassoon solo that leads into the closing “Faith”, a slow and attractive theme that features Maviel leading the band and Forbes crashing piano chords like McCoy Tyner. It eventually turns into a bluesy dance led by piano, banjo and handclaps that could be the soundtrack to Sun Ra’s Arkestra going into one of their high stepping
gospellish promenades. Matt Lavelle’s compositions don’t rely on intricate melody like several other large scale modern bandleaders but his musicians can blow furiously and he can put together attractive spaces for them to do their things. – Jerome Wilson, Cadence
Swing / Moonflower Interlude / Faith.
Lavelle, cnt, flgh, a cl, cond; Lee Odom, ss, cl; Charles
Waters, as, cl;; Ras Moshe Burnett, ss, ts, fl, bells; Tim
Stocker, bari s, b cl; Mary Cherney, fl, pic; Claire de
Brunner, bsn; Chris Forbes, p; Laura Ortman, vln; Gil
Salinger, clo; Anders Nillson, g; Jack DeSalvo, bjo,
mandola; John Pietaro, vib, perc; François Grillot, b; Ryan
Sawyer, d; Anais Maviel, vcl. 11/14, Brooklyn, NY.
Sumari II (UR9938
SUMARI‘s second release SUMARI II, from the powerful trio of multi-instrumentalists Matt Lavelle on trumpet and alto clarinet, Jack DeSalvo on electric guitar, cello, banjo and bass ukulele and Tom Cabrera on drums and percussion, go one step further than their debut album SUMARI (one of Downbeat‘s Best Albums of 2015) in creating vast soundscapes alternating with intense interplay.
The Night Visit
The Wine Made Before Adam
One Rose is Enough
The Dust of the Doorway
Inside the Shell of Space and Time
All Roads Have an End
Lost at the Ocean’s Edge
MATT LAVELLE, trumpet, alto clarinet, cuica
JACK DeSALVO, guitar, bass ukulele, cello, banjo
TOM CABRERA, drums, percussion
Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Beanstudio by Jim DeSalvo
Design by Qua’s Eye Graphics
Produced by Jack DeSalvo
Born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1970, previously alongside William Parker and being responsible for the rebirth of a genuine original, Giuseppi Logan, a few years ago , Matt Lavelle directs the 12 Houses, an important work, recorded in November 2014, featuring an ensemble of sixteen elements expressing, in the first instance, a vaguely Mingus-like approach (all Lavelle compositions) staring with a rather excited and consequential tenor sax solo. Soon after, however, comes an exquisite chamber interlude with flute/vibes/arco bass that disrupts the our initial expectations.
It goes something like this for the entire disk, including crescendo and decrescendo, a new tenor solo on which the orchestral is vehemently grafted intermittently (Brooklyn Mountain), then the voice, though cooking on quite a different temperature, is articulate and full of purpose (Knee Braces). This is reiterated by the excellent violin solo that follows and lies on flexible yet calibrated orchestral strokes.
The director Lavelle becomes the main actor in “Cherry Swing,” followed by banjo spice, an important element throughout the entire album, and bassoon, in short, which is quite unusual during “Moonflower Interlude,” and then piano, in the much larger “Faith” that seals (not without some fleeting academics) the move toward a happy closing.
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 Burnett: 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: drums; Anaïs Maviel: voice.
Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Unseen Rain Records | Style: Modern Jazz
Julie Lyon – vocal, Pat Hall – trombone, Jack DeSalvo – guitar, Mark Hagan – double-bass, Tom Cabrera – drums, play Julie and Jack’s composition Hey There Baby in performance at Dennings Point Distillery in Beacon, NY from Julie’s album MOONFLOWER.
Listen to and get Julie’s UR albums at https://julielyon.bandcamp.com/
My first reaction when considering Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans (Unseenrain – 9960) by trombonist PAT HALL was what is there in the music of Evans that would inspire a trombonist to enlist an organ trio comprising Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis on Hammond organ, Marvin Sewell on guitar and Mike Campenni on drums to explore these tunes? Well, spending a bit over an hour listening to the album showed me that music associated with an iconic jazz player like Evans can be interpreted by good musicians with their own perspectives, and with interesting, satisfying results. The choice of Lewis is logical as he has released three albums of music by or associated with Thelonious Monk using his organ-based group, re-conceiving the material, much as Hall has done with the Evans songs. The program includes four selections composed by Evans, “Waltz for Debbie,” “Know What I Mean,” “Time Remembered” and “Peri’s Scope.” There are two songs by close associates of Evans, “Gloria’s Step” by bassist Scott LaFaro, and An Evans favorite, “Elsa” by Earl Zindars. Also included is another song often addressed by Evans, “Spring Is Here.” Hall is a superb improviser with technique to spare. The Lewis trio is not typical, being much more modern in conception than most organ-based units. All of this makes for a fascinating engagement with the Evans oeuvre. unseenrainrecords.com
– Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz
Matt Lavelle, Jack DeSalvo, Tom Cabrera – SUMARI: If you are a fan of great improvised & fusion-oriented music, you won’t find a better recorded session than this one from June, 2015. I’ve been reviewing these folks for many, many years now, and most strongly recommend that you lock yourself up in your sound chamber, stoke up whatever it is that “gets you in the mood”, & listen to the full hour set with your headphones on. Songs like the marvelously intricate “The Nature of Mass Events“, though only clocking in a 2:45, are a perfect introduction to the creativity of this trio (Matt playing trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet and clarinet; Jack doing mandola, cello and guitars; and Tom on bodhran, tar, riqq, doumbak and bass drum), but the true intricacy of their performance is best heard on longer pieces (9:54) like “Scientific Cults and Private Paranoias“!
If you’re just a “regular” listener, you probably wouldn’t be here reading this anyway, but if so, prepare yourself for one of the most exciting introductions to free-style jazz you’ll ever be privileged to listen to. As you listen to the opener, “Seth Dance”, you’ll realize that this isn’t (at all) just another “noodling” session… professional recording and tasty improvised sounds from each of the players… this is my favorite track of the seven (rather long) creations offered up for your listening pleasure, no doubt… totally accessible, even for the novice in the improvised arena. I give this trio a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00… meaning that they also get my “PICK” for “best improvised jazz”. Get more information at the Unseen Records label page for this release. (& be sure to tell them you read about them here). Rotcod Zzaj
There’s a majestic feeling to the opening of Solidarity, the title track of a release by Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses. This reed-heavy 17 piece ensemble also features an extended rhythm section with guitar, piano, banjo, bass, vibes, and drums, along with violin, cello and voice. Some of the places that conductor/composer Lavelle has his unit visit are not unexpected, like saxophonists popping out of the ensemble for brash solos amid flowing and changeable backdrops. But Lavelle is a wily musical organizer who nudges the group into some unexpectedly quiet zones as well as whip them up into a frenzy like the exhilarating last minute of Solidarity. Clearly this is a man who knows well the capabilities and the sounds of the members of the unit. Brooklyn Mountain, which sounds like an excerpt from a longer performance, offers extended interplay among pianist Chris Forbes, tenor saxophone soloist Ras Moshe, and the mass of horns brought in and out of the picture via Lavelle’s conducting. Violinist Laura Ortman and cellist Gil Selinger are prominent on the ethereal but thorny Knee Braces, cushioned by thick swirls of chords from massed reeds and understated rhythms. This partly improvised tone poem is largely soothing and restful, especially when contrasted with some of the other tracks. Lavelle puts on a show for the opening two minutes of Cherry Swing, with a lengthy, cogent, and wide-ranging cornet solo over minimalist percussion accompaniment. When the full band kicks in with a wallop, Lavelle takes a second solo, playing with fiery, rapid-fire gusto. He’s followed by Jack DeSalvo with an ornery banjo solo before the ensemble pours back in to make a mighty noise. While Anaïs Maviel’s voice is usually used as part of the ensemble, her unhinged vocals on the finale, a warped New Orleans-styled collective improvisation are a bit unnerving. But a little shaking up is good for you, at least musically speaking, and if you’ve made it this far, you’ll be having too good a time with Chris Forbes’ rollicking piano and the rhythmic bounce of bass and percussion to be bothered very much. Solidarity presents an unusual big band in a variety of stylistic approaches, held together by Lavelle’s vision and his command of the possibilities of his group. Definitely worth a listen.
– STUART KREMSKY, Mr. Stu’s Record Room http://skremsky.tumblr.com/post/152748252400/matt-lavelles 12-houses-solidarity
Unseen Rain UR-9945; Matt Lavelle (cnt, fl, alto cl) Lee Odom (ss, cl) Charles Waters (as, cl) Ras Moshe Burnett (ts, ss, fl, bells) Tim Stocker (bars, bcl) Mary Cherney (fl, picc) Claire De Brunner (bassoon) Chris Forbes (p) Laura Ortman (vln) Gil Selinger (clo) Anders Nilsson (g) Jack DeSalvo (bjo, mandola) John Pietaro (vib, perc) François Grillot (b) Ryan Sawyer (d) Anaïs Maviel (vcl); Brooklyn, NY, November 2014; Solidarity/ Brooklyn Mountain/ Knee Braces/ Cherry Swing/ Moonflower Interlude/ Faith; 48:53.
Contrassio Trio perform Jack DeSalvo’s piece Pramantha in Palencia, Spain.
Pramantha has also been performed by classical guitarist ADAM KAHN in the UK.
Pramantha has been recorded by a number of artists, including:
By Paul Acquaro
Oh, acoustic guitar duo, how my heart beats for thee! DeSalvo and Minasi are a great pair on Soldano Dieci Anni, both performing on either unamplified archtop guitar or acoustic (classical and steel string) guitar. They split the responsibilities, supporting each other, and creating space for stretching out, sometimes freely, and other times within well-defined chord structures.
Starting with the ‘Bee and the Fly’, a free and playful number that never loses steam, the pair moves from jabs of chords, to frenetic runs, to lush arpeggios, all without losing a beat – or rather it would be more appropriate to say – never losing the pulse. The tight number ‘Angela’ is a lovely mid-tempo ballad, buoyant and easy-breathing, with crisp solos from both (the vocals caught by the ambient recording are a tiny bit distracting, but also endearing).
Even at their most out, you can trust in the capable hands of DeSalvo and Minasi to deliver a captivating performance.
Bassist Mark Hagan recording “All Hallows” with Tom Cabrera – drums and Bob Rodriguez – piano for Tom’s upcoming UNSEEN RAIN album – working title is “What I’ve Found”. Recording and mastering engineer is Jim DeSalvo, producer and composer is Jack DeSalvo, mixing engineer is Larry Hutter and studio is Trading 8s in Paramus, NJ.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Dom Minasi, Jack DeSalvo, Soldano Dieci Anni
A two-guitar duet album with Dom Minasi and Jack DeSalvo? I was not sure what that would be until I put it on. Soldano Dieci Anni (Unseen Rain) is a hugely beautiful surprise. The both of them brought their acoustic-electrics, archtops, flattops and Jack a nylon string guitar. They let loose with some nicely done free numbers then proceeded to tackle their originals.
Fact is, Dom and Jack hit it off from the beginning. Their ability to swing and come up with great lines is heightened when the two play off against one another. The ravishing harmonies of the originals combine with inspired note choices for some of the nicest acoustic duets since side two of McLaughlin’s My Goals Beyond.
They show deep roots, great subtlety, advanced interactions and the kind of spontaneity that an album like this demands.
Hats off to Dom and Jack! Bravo!
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Altoist Rocco John is a fixture on the New York scene, keeping the new thing free flames stoked with his own brand of avant jazz. He records more infrequently than I would like, but then that makes his new releases all the more welcome.
His latest, Embrace the Change (Unseen Rain 9947), features a cohesive and compatible quartet of Rocco John on alto and soprano, Rich Rosenthal on electric guitar, Francois Grillot on contrabass and Tom Cabrera on drums. Rocco John provides the originals, attractive springboards for the often collective improvisations that make good tracks into the horizon.
Rocco John sounds quite limber and full of spontaneous musicality. So too Rich makes creative paths that go well with what Rocco John is doing. Francois Grillot is, as always, the complete bassist, whether walking or making horn-like statements. And Tom Cabrera swings and frees it all up well depending on what is needed.
It is an album that stays in the avant mode with lots of fire and ideas. It’s well worth hearing, another notch in the Rocco musical belt. Recommended!
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.
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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
Get CD HERE
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.
Dom Minasi & Jack DeSalvo: Soldani Dieci Anni
Solidarity (Unseen Rain Records) by Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses is a rampaging rollicking jazz affair with Lavelle’s cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet leading the charge on six original jam-packed elongated tracks. The action is fast and furious what with two soprano saxophones, two clarinets, alto sax, tenor sax, two flutes, bells, baritone sax, bass clarinet, piccolo, bassoon, piano, violin, cello, guitar, banjo, mandola, vibraphone, percussion, double-bass, drums and human voice. – rant ‘n’ roll by Mike Greenblatt, The Aquarian Weekly
DOM MINASI and JACK DeSALVO, two jazz guitarists at the top of their game, have been longtime fans of each other – but have never played together.
On an afternoon in November of 2015, the two players sat down in the intimate open space at Beanstudio and recorded SOLDANO DIECI ANNI using several of their favorite acoustic and electric instruments. The resulting recording, intimate yet open and colorful, is a must-have for anyone interested in modern jazz guitar.
DOM MINASI & JACK DeSALVO – guitars
Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Beanstudio by Jim DeSalvo
Design by Qua’s Eye Graphics
Produced by Jack DeSalvo
MATT LAVELLE – cornet, flugelhorn, alto clarinet, conduction, LEE ODOM – soprano saxophone and clarinet, CHARLES WATERS – alto saxophone and clarinet, RAS MOSHE BURNETT – tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, bells, TIM STOCKER – baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, MARY CHERNEY – flute, piccolo, CLAIRE de BRUNNER – bassoon, CHRIS FORBES – piano, LAURA ORTMAN – violin, GIL SELINGER – cello, ANDERS NILSSON – guitar, JACK DeSALVO – banjo, mandolin, JOHN PIETARO – vibraphone, percussion, FRANÇOIS GRILLOT – double-bass, RYAN SAWYER – drums,ANAÏS MAVIEL – voice
CD Review: https://musicalmemoirs.wordpress.com/
By Dee Dee McNeil
Unseen Rain Records
Matt Lavelle, cornet/flugelhorn/alto clarinet & conductor; Lee Odom, soprano saxophone/clarinet; Charles Waters, alto saxophone/clarinet; Ras Moshe Burnett, tenor and soprano saxophone/flue/bells; Tim Stocker, baritone saxophone/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, double bass; Ryan Sawyer, drums; Anaïs Maviel, voice.
The first song Is dark, full of strings and horns that remind me of gardens packed with honey bees and flies. The instrumentation encourages strings to be bowed and tones to be bent. Consequently, they sound very much like insects to me. It’s titled “solidarity”, the same as the CD. The composer must have had something specific in mind, but I probably would have titled it, ‘Spring Garden.’ Lavelle has composed everything on this production. He is the conductor and plays cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet. His concept is to hire master jazz players and challenge them to improvise on his musical themes using both traditional, classical instruments. This includes Claire de Brunner on bassoon and Gil Selinger on cello; Ras Moshe Burnett on reeds and Charles Waters on alto sax and clarinet. It’s not an odd premise to throw traditionally classical instruments into the arms of jazz musicians, since jazz is often referred to as America’s unique classical art form. However, this project seems to be melting chamber orchestra and big band music together over an unusual premise of improvisation, freedom and Avant Garde. The song “Faith” gives us a taste of New Orleans verve and Kansas City spicy ‘Swing’. However, the resulting responsiveness between players fosters explosive musicality to interpret Lavelle’s compositional focus. His desire to mix genres is both interesting and challenging. It leaves the final review to be culminated by the ears and in the hands of you, the listener.
Rocco John Quartet Has Good Advice: ‘Embrace the Change’ on Unseen Rain Records [REVIEW]
Rocco John Iacovone (Photo : courtesy Unseen Rain Records)
There’s no telling where Rocco John Iacovone will go. The sax man studied under Lee Konitz and Sam Rivers. In the case of the latter, John has successfully taken the Rivers dictum (if they can’t understand it, go even further!) and whittled away at it, sanding it down, putting on a coat of varnish, to ultimately let his listeners alternately swoon and get excited. Embrace the Change (Unseen Rain Records) is more than a CD title. It’s good life advice.
In taking from the avant-garde, but making it accessible, John, whose alto and soprano saxes blow wild and free throughout, has fashioned a terrific one-stop that fills all your needs for melody, harmonics (or, in this case, shall we say harmolodics as taught to us by Ornette Coleman), interaction, composition, fiery hot soloing (check out Rich Rosenthal’s electric guitar!) and the bulwark of a rhythm section — double-bassist Francois Grillot and drummer Tom Cabrera — that not only keeps things kinetic but also anchors the avant and keeps things from getting out of hand.
Opening and closing with “Wings,” a post-bop humdinger that challenges our assumptions immediately, the highlights have to be “Dial Up,” an eight-minute plea to the heavens for assistance, and “72’s,” almost eleven minutes of pure disparate intentions, a cross-pollination of ideas from swing and bebop to fusion all in one over-reaching but successful track. You can add the extremely satisfying 9:52 “Tango” to the highlight reel.
Recorded in New Jersey, produced by Jack DeSalvo, Embrace the Change works because this particular change is still within earshot of the masses, if only said masses would just lighten up a bit and stretch their brains to the ferreting out of this kind of talent instead of having every musical morsel served to them on a silver platter. C’mon y’all! Up to the task?
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CD Review: http://jazzquad.ru/index.pl?act=PRODUCT&id=4418
By Leonid Auskern
Alto saxophonist Rocco John Iacovone had excellent teachers, these mentors, however, came from very different places on the musical map. On one hand Rocco played in the brilliant free jazz master Sam Rivers’ Orchestral Explorations, and, on the other he studied with the master of cool-jazz Lee Konitz. His own playing style was formed under the influence of both of these artists. If you find it hard to imagine such a combination, listen to Embrace The Change, the most recent album of the quartet of Rocco John. He founded his first band in 1997 (then it was the trio), and today Rocco John Iacovone is a prominent figure among the avant-garde scene of New York, founder and art director of the Coalition of Creative Artists.
Embrace The Change has Rocco playing with Rich Rosenthal, an accomplished guitar player who overcame some early vicissitudes, a New York Frenchman, bassist François Grillot and drummer Tom Cabrera, who is the only one of the four of whom I had heard earlier on his wife Julie Lyon’s album Julie, also published by Unseen Rain Records. All the tracks of Embrace The Change were written by Rocco John, and this is not a random collection of disparate pieces but rather a conceptual suite dedicated to a deeply philosophical theme, the evolution of human existence.
Following the ancient Greek sage Heraclitus, who argued that in the same river one can not enter twice, Rocco John defends the idea that the only constant in the evolution of man is eternal movement, eternal change, and to which man can only adapt. By means of music, of course, may seem too abstract a tool for solving this problem, but in the avant-garde, mostly free-form jazz of Rocco John, indisputably genuine feeling is present, not to mention the purely aesthetic pleasure from listening to the playing of this quartet of musicians. I especially would like to mention such compositions as Circuits (the relationship of people living with each other – Rocco provides all the explanations of the songs in the liner notes to this work), Tango, which he described as the dance of life and a very unusual song 72’s (“Communication with infinity” says Rocco John), where the second part suddenly starts to sound background of the famous Jewish song “Eveynu Shalom Aleichem”, which in Hebrew means “We wish you peace”. It is probably not by chance that this wish of peace was included by Rocco John in his suite.
By Dee Dee McNeil
If the eclectic and Avant Garde is your cup of tea, sit back and pour yourself a cup of the Rocco John Quartet. Drums and saxophone explode on the scene with intensity and purpose. Every song on this production is composed by Rocco John Iacovone. His bandmates unweave the story inside each composition with sincerity and creativity. The composer says his music is meant to be a comment on our evolution as human beings. I find his music eerie, but strangely beautiful. On a song called “72’s” the drums and cymbals color the presentation as Rosenthal’s guitar astutely explores melodies and emotions. When the sax enters, it brings another character to the forefront and the three begin a sensitive conversation. Musical phrases pour out of them in streams of tempo and scales, spurred by Cabrera’s deft percussion. It sings to me in a minor mode. I am intoxicated by this track. When Grillot bows his bass, it changes the mood and texture of this composition. Each cut on this eight composition album brings a theme of exploration. This is thought provoking music. There is the unexpected, always present and looming in the next musical phrase. Yet, there is also something soothing about this recording.
Rocco John Iacovone’s has studied with the legendary Lee Konitz and Sam Rivers. His preoccupation with composition led him to the doorstep of Nadia Boulanger. This artist hopes that he and his talented band elicit unmitigated passion and interest in the listener. Perhaps the composer said it best in his linear notes:
“While we all hear the loud voices telling us what to do and how to do it, we really need to quiet down and listen to the whispers of our inner self.”
His music seems to encourage us to ‘embrace the change.’
ROCCO JOHN QUARTET -EMBRACE THE CHANGE Downloads:
RICH ROSENTHAL guitar
FRANÇOIS GRILLOT double-bass
TOM CABRERA drums