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”).
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