ARTIST: JIMMY BENNINGTON, STEVE COHN
TITLE: No Lunch In Hackensack
LABEL: Unseen Rain Records
TUNES: At the Track by the Shack in Hackensack; What Bob Wants to Hear; The President’s Club; Steven; No Lunch in Hackensack I; Quiet Now (Denny Zeitlin); The Days of Wine and Roses (Henry Mancini); No Lunch in Hackensack II; For Debbie
PERSONNEL: Jimmy Bennington, Steve Cohn
Jimmy’s drums on this (somewhat) rambling foray into the nether-woods of New Jersey will catch your ears & shake them a bit… the opener alone, “At The Track by the Shack in Hackensack“, immediately shows the rapport these players have… they play off of, around & (even) through each other… I loved the vocals that were gently interspersed throughout (though you can’t quite call it spoken-word… more like “spirits speaking”, I guess you’d say). I’ve had a few sonic adventures like this myself, where the keyboard player (often) starts off with a kind of direction in mind & the drums trail it & then at some point, jump out ahead of the pack. The laid-back “Quiet Now” is about as solid a jazz piece as I’ve heard for duo music like this… not at all what you might expect from a simple drum/piano set, but full of life & the love of living it. You get nine tunes for your long-term aural pleasure and audio adventure… my personal favorite of those tracks is the oddly-titled “What Bob Wants To Hear“… at 12:39, there was plenty of room for each player to expand their improvisational horizons and do the thing that’s most important on these types of albums – have FUN with it… great high-talent & high-energy playing that will intrigue you and make you want to hear even more. I give Jimmy & Steve a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. You can get more information at the UNSEEN RAIN RECORDS label page for this release. — Dick Metcalf
Chicago-based drummer, arranger and explorer of the edges of the jazz tradition Jimmy Bennington visited multifaceted pianist Steve Cohn‘s Hackensack haunts to record this sometimes lyrical, sometimes angular album that not only includes their forays into improvised compositions but features some very different views of a couple of chestnuts of the jazz repertoire.
There are so many excellent modern and avant jazz musicians headquartered in the New York City area today. It confirms the status of New York as a jazz capital of the world, certainly, yet there are fewer and fewer venues to play in. It becomes all the more important for lovers of the music to get to the gigs and show support, and of course buy the CDs.Three New York figures come front and center as very good examples of New York being now on the album Sumari (Unseen Rain 9962). On it we have the trio of Matt Lavelle on trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet and alto clarinet, Jack DeSalvo on mandola, cello and guitar, and Tom Cabrera on bodhran, tar, riq, doumbek, bass drum and miscellaneous percussion.
This is vibrantly eclectic avant jazz with world influences and a flowingly harmolodic sense. Matt plays the trumpet etc. with a mastery that shows an encompassing of the tradition and the essence of the moment. He has much to say and he comes to say it eloquently on the set. There are especially interesting tonal qualities he gets from alternating fingerings on notes, creating timbral and microtonal openings that are quite stimulating to hear. His switch from bass clarinet to alto clarinet recently has inspired him to play some of his very best reed work here as well.
Jack on his battery of instruments lays down foundational sounds that sometimes function as a double bass might do in such a trio setting. Other times they function as a second solo voice. And sometimes as a sort of “world” riffing instrument. He sounds just right here.
Tom similarly gives us rhythmic drive and freedom that functions sometimes in the role of the “drum set,” other times with more overtly world connotations. He is key too to the success of the date.
What’s nice about this one is the very together qualities of the trio as a whole. They are free yet they also have a world-homogenous quality to them. Matt plays some of his best music on disk. Jack and Tom create the varied and creative framework that makes it all work.
I am very happy to hear this one. The trio comes at us with strength and ideas. It all works. It’s all very New York, which means there is the local and the universal all wrapped up into a very “now” music. Excellent!
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.
SUMARI – Matt Lavelle, Jack DeSalvo, Tom Cabrera
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.
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
Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans
- Gloria’s Step
- Waltz for Debbie
- Spring Is Here
- Know What I Mean
- Time Remembered
- Peri’s Scope
Pat Hall (trombone)
Greg ‘Organ Monk’ Lewis (Hammond organ)
Marvin Sewell (guitar)
Mike Campenni (drums)
Recorded at Tedesco Studio, Paramus, NJ
Mixed and mastered by Jim DeSalvo at Beanstudio, Wayne, NJ
Executive producers: Gene Gaudette, Jim DeSalvo, Jack DeSalvo
Produced by Chris Kelsey
Unseen Rain UR-9980
Matt Lavelle, cornet/flugelhorn/alto clarinet; John Pietaro, vibraphone/bodhran/ congas/percussion.
Here is another artistic endeavor to celebrate Thelonius Monk’s historic compositions. Right off the bat, Lavelle’s horn grabs my attention, singing “Epistrophe” with Pietaro using percussion techniques and vibraphone to support Lavelle’s solo journey. I enjoyed the simplicity of sound that allowed Monks melodies to shine. For just two people to decide to provide an entire album of Monk’s music for our listening pleasure, I assume they must be improvisational wizards. Here is an artistic work of passion. Some of the songs are eight and nine minutes long. It takes talent, inspiration and tenacity for two people to fill up nearly ten minutes playing a single song. Lavelle takes time to talk to himself with his various horns on a single tune, laying down the cornet to pick up alto clarinet or flugelhorn. Pietaro, an adept percussionist, paints the tunes with various shades of instrumentation on vibraphone, bells, using whistle sounds, congas and various other percussive layers. This is an album of personal expression and passionate improvisation. – Dee Dee McNeil
Sound Guardian Review of Harmolodic Monk
The title says it all! It reminds us of two jazz musicians who have marked the genre musical with innovation and distinctive authoritative work: saxophonist Ornette Coleman and pianist Thelonious Monk. While both early career met with incomprehension, even neglect, today they are celebrated as giants. Monk is one of the greatest composers in history of jazz, an author of a wealth of songs that have become jazz standards. His creativity is still an inspiration for new generations of jazz – and not only jazz musicians. Many of them are recorded themed albums with his compositions, among others the famous soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, who was a great admirer of his work.
One of the most important representatives of free-jazz, Coleman founded his own musical concept – philosophy – which he called Harmolodics, and based it on his own composition/improvisation principles. Multi-instrumentalists Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro decided to record a theme album that honors both. The Monk’s works are processed in a manner close to Coleman harmolodics concept. The template for improvisation are found in some of Monk’s most famous songs: “Epistrophy”, “Pannonica”, “‘Round Midnight”, “Crepescule With Nellie”, “Ruby My Dear”, “Blue Monk”, “Monk’s Mood” and “In Walked Bud “, but also those less known to a wider circle of listeners, such as” Green Chimneys “and” Let’s Cool One “.
In addition to the musical setting, Lavelle, who plays cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet, and Pietaro, who plays the vibraphone, bodhran (Irish drum similar to the Arabic instruments related defu), congas and percussion, their approach is based on the philosophy of a grand music. For example, there is the significant Coleman’s story about his appearance at the psychiatric ward of a hospital when, looking at the audience, he could not distinguish between physicians from patients, as well as Bartok’s belief that new music has to be deeply rooted in folk music, the world’s musical heritage. All these experiences and consolidate completely in their vision of contemporary improvised music.
Although they are virtuosos who play musical instruments, that aspect is secondary. Primary is a new approach to standards, sound research, communication and interaction. The music that We would be happy to listen to some of this music at the upcoming Zagreb Biennial.
– Davor Hrvoj, Sound Guardian
Dragutin Andrić, Editor-In-Chief www.soundguardian.com
Harmolodic Monk (UR9953)
Emblematic of bebop, growing out of stride piano playing including ragtime styles, Thelonious Monk is a jazz legend, a prolific composer and improviser of the highest level. He remains, in fact, a continual source of inspiration.
How do we then distinguish from the various tributes to his glory? Lavelle and Pietaro have the solution, applying Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodic theory to this music.
Explaining this seeming arcane musical vision is the challenge. It consists of a fusion of harmony and melody in a polyphony sans the usual constrictions. In a free jazz approach, this allows for more than one musician playing the same melody but starting at different pitches, so tonality per-se doesn’t govern the music but instead tones, rhythm, melody, tempo are all equal, which Ornette calls unison.
And what could be more natural than to see multi-instrumentalist Matt Lavelle present in this project? It is indeed his time with Ornette Coleman, which makes him all the more legitimate to carry this adventure. Playing in turn cornet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet and alto clarinet, Lavelle is joined by John Pietaro on vibes, congas, percussion and the Irish drum known as the bodhran.
Ambitious and promising …
Epistrophy: The spooky atmosphere gives us a glimpse of this concept as Lavelle holds the melody from the top of his clarinet and Pietaro digresses nicely with percussion, together forming an inseparable whole. Captivating, enhanced by mic’ing closer to the instrumentalists. This complex piece is
tamed for us and all its subtlety is revealed.
Pannonica follows this line, with a more digressive Lavelle, though again in a harmonious musical symbiosis. Green Chimneys brings color to the music, thanks to almost tribal percussion followed by a warm flugelhorn at every turn.
Round Midnight is also fascinating with the first vibraphone alone,
suspending the time for three minutes, seemingly more traditional yet still so ethereal. A no less excellent version of a Monk title is Crepuscule With Nellie featuring a break in improvisation that is close enough to the original to be sobering. Lavelle grants himself the right to play solo, shattering everything with musical brilliance. If Monk fans are skeptical of the ownership
of these titles, this should settle them!
Ruby My Dear has the same relevance to original melody, but this time it’s Pietaro’s vibraphone. Equally adept, he repeats the feat by remaining close to the original while applying the theory of harmolodics solo! The result is even more convincing! Let’s Cool One is somewhat less powerful in its rendering, needing a more striking arrival.
Due to its length (nearly 10 minutes), Blue Monk is the most difficult of pieces to grasp. With Lavelle resolutely putting free jazz forward, some listeners may want to leave it on the side of the road on the way. However, if one perseveres, the experience is truly rich and powerful.
The most whimsical moment arrives with Monk’s Mood. With his famous bodhran, Pietaro breathes a different atmosphere into the proceedings, a world music approach, differently from Lavelle is doing. Pietaro plays his instrument fiercely, playing each breath to emit sounds that are amazingly refreshing and gratifying! In Walked Bud closes the album as it began, a harmolodic replica. A beautiful finale.
The bet was risky but it pays off: The formation of a charismatic duo – Lavelle and Pietaro keep their original commitment.
Sublimely produced by Jack DeSalvo, HARMOLODIC MONK is a beautiful album. Monk fans may not appreciate everything, but that’s what makes it so much than just a tribute
Since it may be difficult to approach for the uninitiated it deserves a good
listening because the effort is worth the reward.Though a tad long it lacks nothing in inspiration to keep us constantly surprised. You’ll enjoy a great experience finding out!
– Axel Scheyder
Fulminate Trio: Triangulation (UR9949)
Anders Nilsson (guitar), Ken Filiano (double-bass, effects),Michael Evans (drums-percussion)
Fulminate Trio is a union of astonishing improvisers who create vast soundscapes with guitar, double-bass, drums and effects that would make jazz aficionados best pals with Stockhausen and the great contemporary composers. Not to mention a Buffy Sainte-Marie tune thrown in for good measure.
- Maple Sugar Boy
- Otra Cosa Aparte
- Sex and Violence
Recorded February 24, 2014 Tedesco Studio, Paramus, NJ
Mixed and Mastered by Jim DeSalvo at Beanstudio, Wayne, NJDesign by Qua’s Eye Graphix
Executive producers: Gene Gaudette, Jim DeSalvo and Jack DeSalvo
Produced by Jack DeSalvo
Vocalist Julie Lyon has a voice that recalls Blossom Dearie, and also benefits from an air tight band, similar in makeup with Tom Cabrera/dr, Jack DeSalvo/g and Bobby Brennan/b but with the added attraction of trumpeter/clarinetist Matt LaVelle, who adds some nice horn sounds on the cheerful “Strollin’” and alto clarinet on the glistening “Dindi.” The band has a gentle stride going one step at a time on “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and while her voice sounds a bit distant on “Bye Bye Blackbird” and during the loosey goosey “Born to Be Blue,” the symbiosis of the band carries her over the River Jordan into the Promised Land.
Click on the poster to see the super-size version.
Click here to download “Triangulation”, now available!
The music of Thelonious Monk, if anything, has taken on
increasing stature as a body of compositions central to the
modern jazz experience. In the period following his leaving us,
we see renewed attention to his recordings and a great array
of contemporary jazz musicians who perform his music regularly. Steve Lacy was a pioneer in adventurously featuring Monk’s compositions long before it was fashionable. Nowadays his recordings of Thelonious’s music have achieved classic status. Yet with the unforgettable melodic and harmonic qualities of his music there is always room for further explorations. It may not be a simple matter to make out of music so well known and widely played something very fresh. Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro have done just that with their album Harmolodic Monk (UR Unseen Rain 9953).
The “Harmolodic” reference goes back to Ornette Coleman and his approach, specifically his freedom to go out of the expected key centers or improvisations around chord changes to modulate or introduce notes outside of the usual frame of tonal reference. It’s more than that but for now that will do. Matt and John approach the Monk material freely in this way, so they can stick to a tonality or general chord sequence and they freely can go outside of it, and that’s what they do and do well.
Matt and John take various approaches to the Monk pieces. Matt on trumpet, flugel and alto clarinet and John on vibes, congas, bodhran and percussion can lope along in tempo, play within the general harmonic structures or advance outwards, go for freetime multitempos or articulate in open tempo with
solo horn or vibes, or in tandem. Matt gives us his beautiful take on a classic burnished tone for his trumpet and flugel playing or he can go for a more punchy, brash sound when he feels the need to energize. He sounds quite well on the alto clarinet too, an instrument he has recently gotten into to replace his former doubling on bass clarinet. He sounds great on it. John plays some very appropriate and accomplished vibes as a key melodic and harmonic presence with Matt or in a solo context. His
percussion and hand drumming give the music an additional sound that varies the proceedings nicely.
Throughout there is a great respect for the compositional Monk, due attention to the melodic essentials and a harmonic straightforwardness or an expansiveness as they feel it. It all works beautifully well and shows what two very inventive musical voices can produce when they look at Monk’s music in
an open-form way. I am impressed with the outing. I would love to hear them do something like this with a rhythm section next time, but the music speaks for now very articulately without it. Matt and John have their full artistry on display. The results willabsorb and move you. Very recommended listening!
posted by grego applegate edwards
“…the compositions create an ambiance in “Workaholic” that is fresh and spontaneous. It is strongly expressive with a notion of history standing in a rich jazz tradition. This is partly due to a group of outstanding musicians, including
Mike Clark, once drummer with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. The band plays tight, fancifully, swinging and playful. The recording is well produced, sounds clear and ‘close’, giving you the feeling of being there.” – Frank Huser, JazzFlits
JORIS TEEPE double-bass, electric bass JOSH EVANS trumpet ADAM KOLKER tenor saxophone, bass clarinet JON DAVIS piano, electric piano MIKE CLARK drums
The New Yorker
The Smell of Money
Song for Karin
The singer’s fans had to wait a long time for this disc, as Lyon’s previous album, Live Between Now And Then appeared in 2007. But now experiencing the fresh material, we can say that the wait was well worth it, because the repertoire is better and more interesting compositions can be found here. You can hear a great example of swing on Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “Too Damn Hot” with lyrics by Julie Lyon. Just like the aforementioned song, there are meaningful thrills with “Every Time We Say Goodbye” as well as with Tom Wait’s “Temptation” with its “Parisian cafe” flavor.
Thanks to the great singer’s voice and the excellent team of studied musicians you can almost feel the hot, swinging atmosphere of a real jazz club.
By Howard Lawes
Harmolodic Monk is an album by Matt Lavelle playing by turns cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet and John Pietaro on vibraphone, bodhran, congas and percussion. There are 10 tracks with a total playing time of 72 minutes.
Quoting from the “Dissident Arts” website: “Harmolodic Monk” was the brainchild of noted cornet player Matt Lavelle after years of study with Ornette Coleman and ongoing performance and recording with the Bern Nix Quartet. Matt came across radical vibraphonist / percussionist John Pietaro during their mutual performance with the Ras Moshe Unit and the two quickly realized that their influences weighed heavily on the brilliant compositions of Thelonious Monk and the revolutionary philosophy of Ornette Coleman. Both are also anti-purists who revel in the amalgamation of sounds, genres and styles.
Ornette Coleman was a leading light of the “Free Jazz” movement of the 1960s releasing ground breaking albums The Shape of Jazz to Come in 1959 and Free Jazz in 1960. In 1967 Coleman won the first Guggenheim Fellowship for jazz music and his “harmolodic” theory has been employed in a range of music genres ever since and with great success at the 2009 Meltdown Festival in London where he received rave reviews.
Thelonious Monk was also seen as an adventurous musician employing unconventional techniques that other musicians found difficult, but over time his compositions have become firm favourites with generations of jazz fans across the world.
The ten tracks on this album are based on some of Thelonius Monk’s “greatest hits” and it is possible that there will be Monk fans who will react adversely to their favourite tunes being given the “Free Jazz” treatment. Some tracks such as Round Midnight and In Walked Bud are enjoyable new arrangements of classic jazz tunes but others seem to be so far removed from the original as to be almost unrecognisable, the lack of rhythm typically provided by drums and bass giving free reign to Matt Lavelle’s and John Pietaro’s improvisations.
photograph by Gil Selinger
A side effect of listening to this album was the necessity to re-visit the original Monk versions of each track for comparison and noting once again what a great musician and composer Thelonius Monk was. Another side effect was discovering the Dissident Arts website which is both interesting and unusual. In particular there is information about the Dissident Arts Orchestra and projects including providing the musical accompaniment to classic silent films such as Battleship Potemkin and Metropolis and publishing on Youtube.
I prefer the original Monk versions of these great tunes but for those interested in “Free Jazz” and an application of Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic theories then this example will be well worth considering.
The full track listing is: Epistrophy; Pannonica; Green Chimneys; Round Midnight; Crepuscule With Nellie; Ruby, My Dear; Let’s Cool One; Blue Monk/Straight No Chaser; Monk’s Mood; In Walked Bud. The US version of the album appears to have 2 more tracks.
Click here for a video of Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro playing Blue Monk.
Click here to sample the album.
JULIE LYON QUINTET – JULIE (Unseen Rain UR9957)
By Bruce Crowther http://jazzmostly.com/
This is another debut album, this time bringing to wide attention singer Julie Lyon who leads her New York Quartet through a selection of songs, mostly familiar, that display her rhythmic ease and intelligent interpretations. Among the songs performed here are Love For Sale, Dr Lonnie Smith’s Too Damn Hot, for which Julie has provided lyrics, Bye Bye Blackbird, Strollin’, Dindi an
(Matt Lavelle – cornet, Flugelhorn, alto clarinet; John Pietaro – vibraphone, bodhrán, congas, percussion)
Just when you think Thelonious Monk’s music couldn’t get a new spin, along comes John Pietaro and Matt Lavelle’s 73-minute, ten-track Monk tribute, Harmolodic Monk. Lavelle states he wanted to explore the musical ideas of both Monk and Ornette Coleman, and came up with the notion of imbuing well-known Monk tunes with Coleman’s harmolodic philosophy. Turns out, the blend is both distinctive and appealing. While Monk’s music is adventurously articulated in a fresh approach, Lavelle and Pietaro’s specific instruments also provide a singular characteristic. Monk made use of tenor sax and sometimes trumpet, and Lavelle’s cornet, Flugelhorn and alto clarinet tint Monk’s compositions with an ample array of auditory paints. Interestingly, the duo does not employ a keyboard setup. Instead of piano, Pietaro has a vibraphone, which brings a satiating aspect to the material. He also slips in percussion devices—including bodhrán and congas—to offer intriguing rhythmic support.
The twosome opens with an azure, atmospheric adaptation of “Epistrophy.” Lavelle plays a sonorous introduction on his breathy alto clarinet, and then Pietaro flicks in light percussive effects which gradually become noisier, before he shifts to vibes while continuing to add occasional percussive accents. This may not be a rendition listeners will recognize, so be forewarned. The theme is imparted, but the arrangement is novel, and it might take a few times for some Monk aficionados to appreciate this. Lavelle’s alto clarinet becomes a bit discordant here and there, and the instrumental minimalism may also take some time for some to embrace. Lavelle’s alto clarinet receives the spotlight on his solo version of “Crepuscule with Nellie,” which is misspelled throughout the CD artwork [Spellcheck anyone?]. Lavelle’s deep, bass notes show Monk’s reflective side and each precisely-placed note echoes and glides. Engineer Jim DeSalvo utilizes a very close microphone for this tune, and if listeners got any nearer to the music, they’d have to crawl inside the clarinet.
Pietaro’s vibes are found on much of the material, but are noticeably pronounced on a trio of tracks in the middle of the CD. His vibes and some sparse percussion are the only instruments during a suitably sublime take of “Ruby My Dear.” Pietaro begins with unhurriedly positioned notes. The tempo picks up slightly here and there, but mostly Pietaro lets his notes linger in the air. The result defines the term gossamer: delicate, ethereal and meticulous as a spider’s filament. Lavelle and Pietaro form a sympathetic musical partnership on a modish and thoroughly modernistic “Let’s Cool One,” one of the album’s highpoints. During his soloing, Lavelle aims toward the main theme but rarely stays there, but familiarity gels when he and Pietaro perform together, and trade lines, swap notes and otherwise show how well vibes and horn can present Monk without further assistance from other players. Another memorable piece is a ten-minute makeover of “Blue Monk.” It is mischievous without being banal. Lavelle displays his witty viewpoint on his horn, while Pietaro fills in the spaces on vibes. But even when there is space which could have been propped up, there is a sense of striking significance. Monk could and did use space, and Pietaro and Lavelle also comprehend that less can say a lot more. The tune escalates near the end, especially as Lavelle reels off twisting notes on his horn, sometimes recalling Don Cherry when Cherry was in Ornette Coleman’s band.
The proceedings also attain an unruly and vigorous activity on “Green Chimneys,” where Lavelle switches between cornet and Flugelhorn while Pietaro ratchets up the energy level with fast-paced hand percussion. This translation has an unrestricting, exultant elation, and swirls with affirmation. Pietaro also exhibits his rhythmic fluctuations on a scratchy “Monk’s Mood,” where Lavelle dubs overlapping horns into the edgy arrangement as Pietaro layers various percussion tools into the ever-increasing track. This is open and demonstrative music: free to go where it wants to go and expressive of both Monk’s and Coleman’s creativity. Of course, music this multihued and direct needs proper production. DeSalvo’s engineering, mixing and mastering gives these Monk tunes a sonic engagement, and he also supplies a method which makes the horns, vibes and percussion very much front and center. The way notes remain in the air or span across the left and right channels is brilliant. Even intermittent hum in the quietest moments does not detract but preserves an honest mannerism. Well done to Lavelle, Pietaro and DeSalvo. [Unfortunately Amazon only has an MP3 version of this.]
TrackList: Epistrophy; Pannonica; Green Chimneys; Round Midnight; Crepuscule with Nellie; Ruby My Dear; Let’s Cool One; Blue Monk; Monk’s Mood; In Walked Bud.
Fra la musica di Thelonious Monk e quella di Ornette Coleman c´è una bella distanza, eppure i due autori di questa incisione sono riusciti a eliminarla e fare un omaggio a Monk differente da tutto quello fatto finora (e non è poco!) dai colleghi. Matt Lavelle, qui alla cornetta, flicorno e clarinetto alto ha studiato con Ornette Coleman e suonato insieme a Bern Nix, chitarrista nello storico gruppo Prime Time di Coleman. Il concetto armolodico sviluppato dal famoso sassofonista è applicato alle melodie scritte da Monk, insieme a Lavelle c´è John Pietaro, che si esibisce al vibrafono ed alle percussioni, alle bongas ed al bodhrán, che è un tamburello della tradizione irlandese. Come funziona? Benissimo! La musica liberata da qualunque centro tonale, così come predica ancora Coleman, respira, e qui il vibrafono fa la sua parte, molto empatico con gli strumenti di Lavelle. È un piacere ascoltarli dall´inizio alla fine su brani conosciutissimi, Ruby My Dear, Blue Monk, Pannonica. L´unico pezzo registrato con la tecnica della sovrincisione è Monk´s Mood, qui il clarinetto alto e la cornetta giocano a cercarsi sullo sfondo delle percussioni di Pietaro. Non poteva mancare Round Midnight, che in questa veste minimalista diventa un brano dalla bellezza soffusa, notturna come vuole il titolo. L´idea dei due musicisti e del produttore Jack De Salvo è realizzata perfettamente, così che ci troviamo davanti ad un disco che potrebbe diventare una pietra miliare del genere. Chissà che qualcun altro, ascoltata tanta bellezza, non pensi ad un trattamento armolodico delle musiche di Duke Ellington o Rodgers & Hart.
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Monk’s Music is interpreted with thought, creativity and a hint of mystery by this imaginative duo. It’s definitely Monk with all sorts of new shadings and colors, and it works well. Ten Monk classics are newly examined with imagination in high gear. A must hear for Monk fans.
By Mark S. Turner
Perhaps the most interesting element in this recording is the ‘live in studio’ nature lending a great deal of atmosphere and beatnik cafe society vibe to the affair. Well, actually, I’m assuming it was thus live ’cause it sure as hell sounds it—if not, if there are overdubs and such, then Tom Tedesco possesses some supernatural talents as an engineer. Singer Julie Lyon exhibits a large element of the happy-go-lucky in her swinging recitations, perhaps most vividly shown in her take on Dindi, about the snappiest version I’ve heard yet in a song that’s been undergoing quite a renaissance in revisitations recently. Then there are the laid back, casual, way hip quotations from the quartet backing her, sounding as though just returned from a break in the back alley where the subject of ‘discussion’ was muggles, Jack Daniels, and maybe a nip or two of Romilar.
I mean, everything here is so strongly reminiscent of one of those way cool Shag (Josh Agle) paintings that I practically hear the painter’s vivid mono- and multi-chromatics and urbane exotica in the CD. Then come all the off-the-cuff incidentals the band adds in—catch especially Matt Lavelle’s throaty bass clarinet fog in Every Time We Say Goodbye, so husky it’s almost aromatic—alongside Lyon’s friendly counter-culture intonations, a college girl matriculating in Hip 101. Bobby Brennan has the band nailed in with his solid bass work, and Tom Cabrera’s drumming evokes mental images of Maynard G. Krebs standing by, fingers snapping, grin wreathing Fu Manchu’ed face, while Jack DeSalvo’s guitar is a mercurial presence, dashing in for a doo-wop quotation, then sliding back out again.
Lavelle, though is oft striking, as present and in the pocket as Lyon, he blazing (as in the trumpet work in Too Damn Hot) while she smile-sings seductively, caught between wanting to gambol in the sun, grab that martini on the sidebar, and/or wink at the guy who just strolled in, tan, lean, and mysterious. All or Nothing at All undergoes a modern art treatment, pointillistic and fragmentary, Lyon holding everything together while the guys get jagged and rambly. Then she clarifies and espanola-izes Tom Waits bizarre Temptation, turning it from a near-inchoate schizophrenic blues into something the Asylum Street Spankers would’ve produced. And if I pen any more paeans here, I’m going to have to check into Keroauc Rehab and have my typewriter re-tuned, so why not just glom the CD and just dig what’s goin’ down, gator.
Edited by: David N. Pyles (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unlike so many past masters tributes which feature some of the subject writer’s work, then a smattering of tunes cherished by the deceased mainman, and finally cuts written by the tributees, Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro’s Harmolodic Monk is 100% Thelonius cuts stretched and refabricated by a horn player and percussionist stripping everything down to bare essentials before getting melodically and environmentally inventive. The baseline is Monk’s mind and work, the rest is a matter of their own chops and cerebrations. The ultra-moody and atmospheric Epistrophy kicks the slab off, giving a clear indication of just what the listener is in for…and I’ll warn right now that if you can’t tune, de-tune, and re-tune your brain and ears, this is not the disc for you.
In the tradition of the more outside Enja, Ogun, and other labels’ works, then the spirit of Lol Coxhill, Anthony Braxton, and of course Ornette Coleman, whose unorthodox talents continue to pervade and open up the extremities of aesthetics, this duo adeptly embraces what a promo sheet writer cited as “the dichotomy of ancient pre-Western approaches and extreme modernism”. I tried my best to upend or at least modify that appraisal but couldn’t. Whoever that cat was, he nailed it to the wall, then put a frame around it. There is indeed a wide time-span of prototypes, influences, and expansions present, sometimes bewilderingly so as things morph and bend. Pannonica is particularly apt, at one moment sounding like the bell music of Alain Kremski (Pietaro and his wondrous vibes), then a boozy Louis Armstrong (Lavelle’s ever-changing horns) leading into a stream-of-consciousness section.
All the cuts flow in that fashion, the listener not for a moment let to wander but instead led from one intriguing section to the next, never knowing what will come but alive and alert for whatever may arise. Harmolodic, if I haven’t made it clear, is free jazz, improvisational to a fault but based in previously set work. I suspect that if Lester Bowie and his Art Ensemble were forced to pare down to a duet, the result would be very much like this. Jack DeSalvo produced the disc but his brother Jim 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. The holidays are over, y’all: heave the tabernacle choirs and E-Z jazz fluff and get back to deepening the crenellations in your grey matter.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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.