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Midwest Record Reviews New Albums from ROCCO JOHN Qt and MATT LAVELLE’s 12 HOUSES

UNSEEN RAIN UR9947_Embrace_The_Change Front
ROCCO JOHN QUARTET/Embrace the Change: A saxman that studied under the watchful eyes of some serious hell raisers, he picks up the baton and you can tell this is someone serious about his Sun Ra and didn’t just eat a bunch of BYG records for breakfast one day. Way out in left field, you can tell this is a hark back to the 70 when jazzbos were trying to expand their minds and connect with the universe, progressive tastes will enjoy this well.

UR9945 Solidarity MINIMATT LAVELLE’S 12 HOUSES/Solidarity: Wow is someone doing a tribute to “Escalator Over the Hill” to kick off the celebrations for Carla Bley’s 80th birthday? The cornet player leads his big band off on some space explorations that feel sincere at the core as opposed to some ruse to grab some arts council money. If space is your place, this is the rocket to ride to get there.

April 1, 2016
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record


Maelstrom Sumari Review

Media Alert: SUMARI (Unseen Rain UR9962)

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

CD Review:

By Avi Shaked

The music echoes and reflects nature. The nature squeaks, screeches, hisses and whistles through the velvet yet discordant sounds of the horns as well as through the spacious, frequently tribal sounding rhythms that are constantly active while maintaining a sense of sparsity. Such a reflection can be disastrous, but here, the players approach the recreation of primitivism with reservedness that prevents dispersal. There is a welcomed openness to the recording which invites you to be engulfed by the sonics, rather than being struck by them.

As the album unfolds, as evident on “Alternate Presents and Multiple Focus” but even more prominent on “The Gates of Horns,” melodic sparks creep in, illustrating the alignment of nature to create harmonious beauty. (7.9/10)

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Interview with Matt Lavelle on SUMARI

Talking with Arts for Art, Matt Lavelle (horns, reeds) discusses his upcoming performance with SUMARI at Justice is Compassion Part 2. Check out the event here!


Matt Lavelle (horns, reeds)
Jack DeSalvo (guitar, cello)
Tom Cabrera (percussion)

Download SUMARI’s first self-titled album here!
Purchase the renowned CD here!










JULIE LYON‘s new album MOONFLOWER, her follow-up to the critically acclaimed JULIE, features original songs and compositions and is in many ways her first solo album. Though accompanied by her band, the focus is not only on Ms. Lyon’s considerable vocal talents but also on her role as lyricist and songwriter. The seeds of MOONFLOWER were sown when Julie began to write lyrics to some of composer Jack DeSalvo’s music. It became obvious that recording this music would be the vocalist’s next project and music by Julie Lyon along with additional collaborations with Tom Cabrera and Betsy Serafin create a tapestry of sophisticated listening experiences with music touching new jazz, folk and world music but always rooted in Julie’s sense of swing and the blues. The title song MOONFLOWER is written by multi-instrumentalist/composer Matt Lavelle.

“Ms. Lyon shows that the she knows exactly what she is doing here and executes all of her songs exquisitely. She’s the real deal in her element here with a voice that is like a nice chianti – Smooth, subtle, complex, and a little playful. When she is singing, what you hear is not only the lyrics, but a visceral love of singing that shines through her instrument, very refreshing and appealing.” – Jonathan Shade, Night Life Exchange


Having Found
It’s Raining Again
Hey There Baby
You Are the One
Chasing a Dream
Soul Dance

JULIE LYON, vocals
Matt Lavelle, trumpet, alto clarinet
Jack DeSalvo, guitar. mandola
Todd Urban, double bass
Tom Cabrera, drums, cymbals, percussion

Recorded at Urban Sound by Todd Urban
Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Beanstudio by Jim DeSalvo
Design by Qua’s Eye Graphics

Produced by Jack DeSalvo


New JULIE LYON album MOONFLOWER available this week.

moonflower_Front_w_logo UR9948.Mooflower_Back

JULIE LYON‘s new album MOONFLOWER, featuring original songs and compositions, will be available this week as HD, CD-Quality and mp3 Downloads  at and

“Ms. Lyon shows that the she knows exactly what she is doing here and executes all of her songs exquisitely. She’s the real deal in her element here with a voice that is like a nice chianti – Smooth, subtle, complex, and a little playful. When she is singing, what you hear is not only the lyrics, but a visceral love of singing that shines through her instrument, very refreshing and appealing.” – Jonathan Shade, Night Life Exchange

Paul Acquaro Reviews SUMARI.

Matt Lavelle, Jack De Salvo & Tom Cabrera – Sumari (Unseen Rain, 2015)
Monday, February 08, 2016Front_Sumari

By Paul Acquaro

I first put on Sumari while I was driving through the Catskills in New York State over the summer, little did I know how geographically apropos it was. The trio on Sumari has its roots in the Hudson valley, going back over 20 years, and the inspiration of the name has something do with a series called the Seth Books, a study of paranormal experiences by Jane Roberts, who happened to be from the Albany area (just a bit north of the Catskills). I’m not sure there is anything to it, but it seemed somewhat interesting.

The musicians on Sumari are Matt Lavelle on trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, alto clarinet, Jack De Salvo on cello and mandola guitar, and Tom Cabrera the dumbeq, rik, frame drums, bass drum, percussion. The number of instruments between them leads to a wide array of musical combinations.

The album starts off with ’Seth Dance’, and as the bass and drums get into a looping groove, Lavelle comes in on trumpet with a slightly sourish tone. The song has a hypnotic effect, the choice of timber is quite interesting, and there is an air of mystery to the track. The next track, ‘Counterparts Are Comparatively Encountered’ is a bit more stream of consciousness. The track, which is the longest on the album, never quite ‘takes off’ however the tension that builds is quite palpable. Track three, ‘Scientific Cults and Private Paranoias’, like the first, is built on a repetitive groove, however, this time, Lavelle employs a brighter tone on the trumpet and DeSalvo creates an earthy rhythmic texture on his mandola guitar that lends an exotic flavor to the track.

Most engaging is hearing hear how closely the musicians listen to each other, the other tracks that follow have varying approaches, but across all, it’s the interplay that really comes through. From the modes and scales Lavel use, to the stringed instruments that DeSalvo chooses, to the various percussion instruments Cabrerea plays, there is a strong inter-connectedness in their playing, and the mix of instruments with the free form improvisation touch on something felt rather than spoken.

SUMARI – One of Downbeat’s Best Albums of 2015

“… Jim (DeSalvo) is the engineer, and Jim’s capture of everything is arresting: clear, lucid, adroitly attuned to shifting focal depths, never at a loss, providing everything this work needed to entablature itself with zero ambivalence.” – Mark Tucker


Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses, Solidarity

The open-form freedom, new thing now jazz world of contemporary New York has a 16-member big band that shows us where the music is on a recent release. I’m talking about Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses and their album Solidarity (Unseen Rain 9945). The band runs through six Lavelle pieces that have each a special melodic mood soulfulness and act as a catalyst for the considerable collective and individual improvisational thrust of the band members.There’s Matt on cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet (and conduction), Ras Moshe Burnett on tenor soprano, soprano and flute, Jack DeSalvo on banjo and mandola, John Pietaro on vibes and percussion, Francois Grillot on double-bass, Anais Maviel on vocals, plus soprano and clarinet (Odom), alto and clarinet (Waters), baritone and bass clarinet (Stocker), flute and piccolo (Cherney), bassoon (de Brunner), piano (Forbes), violin (Ortman), cello (Selinger), guitar (Nillson) and drums (Sawyer). In other words a very full band with players who articulate the melodic-harmonic gamut with a special collective sound and can blow.

There are some dirge-like threnodies, some sanctified testifying and some blow-outs, all showing a very together Lavelle approach and a group that knows where to go with it all. Ras takes some blistering moments to call the spirits on tenor, Matt shines in his solo moments (dig “Cherry Swing”), but really this is for everybody in the end.

And it is a remarkable set, showing us roots and toots, troubled times and resolved transcendence, queueing up and getting there, a gentleness and a fierceness, fragility and strength, all that it takes to keep scuffling but never shuffling.

It is fabulous music from a band that I hope is destined to become an institution in the city. They have what it takes and they show it, they let loose and blow the world forward.

Lavelle is a trailblazer, a full force, a jazz composer and bandleader of stature, a player of strength and depth. And the band is on it.

So very recommended it is!! Grab one.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 2.07.12 AM

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.