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Reviews of SUMARI (UR9962)


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

By: JOHN SHARPE, NYC Jazz Record

Sumari NYC Jazz Record


“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!”



“Sumari – three post-modern multi-instrumentalist shamans channeling intrepid music that extends into jazz, new music, folk and World music. Matt Lavelle, Jack DeSalvo and Tom Cabrera initiated daily open air improv sessions more than two decades ago. During a lunch at Schlomo’s in Nanuet, NY, Cabrera presented Lavelle, then barely out of his teens, with the seminal book Seth Speaks. Both Cabrera and DeSalvo had previously read Seth Speaks and the subsequent volumes by Jane Roberts. The depth of the young trumpet student’s spiritual journey was greatly affected by the book and also eventually prompted bold choices in his career as a jazz musician, improvisor and composer. He would eventually add alto clarinet (and sometimes bass clarinet) as well as the closer family members of the trumpet including flugelhorn, cornet and pocket trumpet. His growth into a master improviser is documented on many recordings including for the Unseen Rain Label. Drummer and percussionist Tom Cabrera had been a fixture on the Hudson Valley jazz scene already when the trio first got together. Know for swinging various ensembles, Tom had picked up a middle eastern frame drum and began to play it during the trio’s daily out door sessions. Tom’s career as took him the Orlando with the Julie Lyon Quartet as well as his own trio but his interest in transcultural percussion only grew.

Other-world art music. Improvisations through space and time. The soundtrack of twilight. These phrases have all been used to attempt to describe this trio known as Sumari. The channeling of free improvisation and global folk culture with a boundless sense of the new – that is what makes this collection of works so bizarre and mesmerizing.”


“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 percussions, 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.”


“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.”



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.”