Category Archives: UNSEEN RAIN Releases


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In the work of both Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk, the dichotomy of ancient, pre-western approaches and extreme modernism live side-by-side so comfortably that one mistakes one for the other. Like the story that Ornette told of performing in a psychiatric hospital; once he started playing and looked out into the audience he couldn’t distinguish between the doctors and the patients.

Bëla Bartók believed that new music must have deep roots in folk music, music of the earth, chthonic in that sense. Besides virtuosity as servant to meaningful expression, communication and sensitive interplay, what Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro reveal to us through this many-layered concept of uncovering new secrets in Monk’s compositions via the Harmolodic highway is their profound understanding that the root of all this is the Blues.

Ornette’s view of the Blues, like his late friend Buckminster Fuller’s view of the world, is multi-dimensional, here imbued with both Monk’s and Ornette’s focus on personal expression. Matt and John provide an extended view into myriad musical possibilities when Harmolodic Monk is in the hands of two improvisational masters.

Jazz Police Review of Inherence (UR9963)

“Inherence”: Joel Shapira Celebrates Duo Guitar Release at the Black Dog, February 5th
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor Jazz Police
Tuesday, 04 February 2014


Former student and mentor, guitarists Joel Shapira and Jack DeSalvo, reunited recently via the internet, and soon found themselves in a New Jersey recording studio. The result is Inherence (Unseen Rain Records), an intriguing and luminous set of guitar duos which Shapira –sans DeSalvo–will celebrate on February 5th at the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul’s Lowertown Arts District. Standing in for DeSalvo (unable to get to Minnesota from the East Coast) will be Minnesota’s own guitar guru, Dean Granros.


St. Paul native Joel Shapira studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and at the Mannes School of  Music in New York City, as well as with Tal Farlow, Joe Pass, Sharon Isbin, and Anthony Cox. Active in the Twin Cities for the past 16  years, he leads his trio and quartet, provides the instrumental half of the popular duo, Charmin (Michelle) and Shapira and coleads their expanded Charmin and Shapira and Friends. He’s led the ensembles Triplicate and Pooches Playhouse and frequently appears with Dean Magraw, Pete Whitman, John Devine, Vic Volare, and a who’s who list of area vocalists. Joel’s previous recordings include two releases with Charmin Michelle (Pure Imagination, Dawning and Daylight), his quartet debut (Open Lines) and two albums with Triplicate (Triplicate, Day and Age).

Jack DeSalvo picked up the guitar at age 8 and was playing in rock bands by his early teens. Soon he discovered the blues and picked up mandolin and harmonica. But hearing a recording of the Mahavishnu Orchestra turned him onto modern jazz, particularly Coltrane and early Miles, and Jack began to study classical guitar and composition as well as improvisation. After playing around New Jersey clubs for a while, he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music and studied George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concepts. Returning to New York, he continued composiing and began studying with Bill Connors (Return to Forever), who encourage him to meld his classical and jazz approaches. Jack built his international reputation as a member of D3, Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, and in duo with vibist Arthur Lipner, playing electric and acoustic guitars.

One of the Midwest’s most accomplished guitarists, Dean Granros co-founded of one of the Twin Cities seminal experimental jazz groups, “The Whole Earth Rainbow Band” in 1970, and in 1974 he created and wrote for “Lapis,” an ensemble dedicated to exploring composition with structured improvisation.  From 1985 through 1993, Dean joined former Weather Report drummer, Eric Kamau Gravatt, in the high energy post-bop band, Kamanari.  He co-founded the progressive and virtuosic improvising trio F*K*G in 1995 with saxophonist Scott Fultz and drummer Dave King. In 2002, he joined George Cartwright’s band Curlew, and about a year later began playing weekly at the Artist Quarter with the exploratory quartet, How Birds Work. Granros continues to perform locally with groups such as Starry Eyed Lovelies (with Mike Lewis, Anthony Cox and Dave King), FKG and How Birds Work. His ensemble “AntiGravity” explores new directions in  improvisational composition.

Inherence (2014, Unseen Rain Records)

Joel and Jack first met in a Tower Records in Greenwich Village about 20 years ago after Shapira had moved from Berklee in Boston to studies at the Mannes School for Music in New York. “Great musicians worked and hung out at Tower,” Joel said in a recent interview with Bill Steiger. “Right away, just by talking, I could tell that Jack and I had a lot of musical common ground. We both played with our fingers, like flamenco guitarists, instead of using picks. We shared a love of classical music as well as jazz. I ended up studying guitar and music theory with Jack. He taught me about the commitment involved in playing jazz, especially in New York City, where great players were a dime a dozen… New York was the best city to start performing as a professional, and, of course, studying with Jack was the icing on the cake.”

After losing contact for the past two decades, social media brought student and mentor together. “The internet changed everything,” said Joel. “A couple of searches and—boom!–there he was.” The two talked about getting together to record some duets at Jack’s brother’s studio in New Jersey. And thus in one afternoon at Beanstudio with engineer Jim DeSalvo, the pair recorded Inherence without rehearsals. “It was a challenge,” said Joel, ” but I was so excited to be in New York and recording with Jack that the occasion reached a sort of spiritual vibe. For me, it felt like the full circle element on the music we had worked on years ago… A quality recording, made under that kind of time constraint brought out what I feel is the best in jazz musicians. No rehearsal. Let’s just do it. Let’s play! Inherence captures more of that improvisational quality than anything I’ve ever played.”

That afternoon session produced 11 tracks — four Wayne Shorter compositions (“Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum,” “House of Jade,” “Virgo” and “Nefertiti”), Ralph Towner’s “Celeste,” the great standard “Just Friends,” three DeSalvo originals, and two spontaneous improvisations from the duo.

DeSalvo’s “Instance” opens the set, a rather insistent and virtuosic display with a more tender midsection. Jack’s “Naiads” follows with a more defined melody, a more conversational collaboration as if friends are swapping life stories. The title track has a more jagged rhythm– a more animated conversation filled with playful jokes and more serious recollections, equally shared and magnificently played.  Of the Wayne Shorter pieces, “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum” is alternately driving and melodic; “Virgo,” “House of Jade” and the closing “Nefertiti” are luxurious meanders for two. “Just Friends” picks up the pace with an energetic exchange, while Ralph Towner’s “Celeste” is spacious and songful, one line bleeding into the next like watercolors.

The two spontaneous compositions, “Joja” and “January East” offer the most interesting harmonies and rhythms of the set, a pair of experiments that highlight the mutual trust and respect among these guitarists who show no fear of the unknown, just a willingness to challenge each other; ultimately the listener accepts the challenge and hangs on for the ride.

Inherence is defined as a “state of being a natural or integral part of something” or “the state of being present, current existence.” The musical reunion of Jack DeSalvo and Joel Shapira is indeed a state of being present, in the moment, each artist essential to the existence of each note.

The Black Dog offers an intimate environment well suited to the music of Inherence, and the substitution of Dean Granros for Jack DeSalvo is well suited to the interaction with Joel Shapira. This pairing will naturally alter the interaction, creating new music.

The Black Dog is located at 308 Prince Street (at Broadway) in St Paul’s Lowertown; Music begins at 7:30 pm. CDs available at the show and by direct mail order – contact Joel at


UR9960_Time_Remembered_Pat_HallPAT HALL – trombone, GREG “ORGAN MONK” LEWIS – organ, MARVIN SEWELL – guitar, MIKE CAMPENNI – drums

Pat Hall has done it. He’s substituted overt passion for Bill Evans’ quiet reserve, impulsive chance-taking for the pianist’s crystalline perfection. In place of the classic piano trio instrumentation so closely-associated with Evans, he’s used something nearly it’s polar opposite.”
– from liner notes by Chris Kelsey

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Available now on iTunes, CD Baby and just about everywhere else.



Seattle-based Herb Kloss‘ gorgeous flute sound is united with the vast transcultural percussion pallet of Tom Cabrera and Jack DeSalvo‘s mandola, cello and guitar for a genre-transcending recording rooted in jazz, classical and folk. The result is extraordinary music.

Jack DeSalvo – mandola, cello, classical guitar/ Herb Kloss – flute, alto flute/ Tom Cabrera – frame drums, riq, tombak, darbuka, percussion

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Lion Hearted



JACK DeSALVO – guitar (Godin Multiac ACS SA classical) JOEL SHAPIRA – guitar (1948 Gibson L-12)

In early January 2013 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to record with an individual who has impacted my musical journey tremendously. The music within was captured in one brief afternoon session, and is the culmination of a relationship with my very gifted and dear friend, Jack DeSalvo. – Joel Shapira

This stellar set of duos, that includes music by Wayne Shorter, Ralph Towner, Jack DeSalvo as well as Just Friends and two open pieces, sheds light on the rather lofty state of jazz guitar these days.


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A voice simultaneously gifted with elegance, swing and more than a hint of blues roots, JULIE LYON debuts her New York Quintet on UNSEEN RAIN with her new album JULIE. Long time collaborator, UR artist and drummer TOM CABRERA joins trumpeter and alto clarinetist MATT LAVELLE, guitarist JACK DeSALVO and double-bassist BOBBY BRENNAN on this magnificent recording.

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In the Language of Dreams -- Cover

Nora McCarthy – voice, bodhran, pedals
Jorge Sylvester – alto saxophone

In the Language of Dreams is an explosion of imagination, a dazzling display of music and words, as well as philosophy. A Small Dream in Red has the courage to set itself high goals, and it has the talent and ingenuity to attain them. And because McCarthy and Sylvester are so inspired by creativity, they likewise inspire creativity, and thus the cycle of artistic endeavor goes forward.” – Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz
In The Language of Dreams is a  tribute to Ornette Coleman and Wassily Kandinsky. The music includes original compositions that include interpretations of five Kandinsky paintings, two Ornette compositions, pieces Nora, Jorge, Cat Stevens and Vernon Duke.

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CHRIS KELSEY and WHAT I SAY: The Electric Miles Project

“Saxophonist Chris Kelsey and his co-conspirators on The Electric Miles Project (guitarists Rolf Sturm and Jack DeSalvo; bassist Joe Gallant; drummer Dean Sharp) are some kind of brave and crazy. They have tackled some of the most wild-assed work of Miles Davis’ career in a manner that comes across as being both respectful and fearless – and the end result is an album that feels more like the next chapter for these tunes rather than a look-back-over-the-shoulder tribute.” – Brian Robbins,

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Master alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester is joined by his ensemble Ace CollectiveNora McCarthy – voice, lyrics, poetry, Waldron Mahdi Ricks – trumpet, Pablo Vergara – piano, Donald Nicks – electric bass and Kenny Grohowski – drums – on this example of high-level 21st century jazz.

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The Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective is “an all-star jazz band that knows how to swing, to improvise with spontaneity and poise, and to respond to one another with telepathic immediacy and profound respect. Their new double CD release Spirit Driven, on foUR Records TM, is the result of a lifetime of spirit driven preparation by each musician – Jorge Sylvester: brilliant composer and arranger, virtuoso alto saxophonist; Nora McCarthy: daringly original, versatile, and fearlessly honest singer, composer, and poet. Waldron Mahdi Ricks: impeccably artful trumpet player, a jazz master in his own right; Pablo Vergara: astoundingly imaginative pianist, musically fluent on an encyclopedic, global scale; Donald Nicks: journeyman artisan of the bass, unfailingly, and always tastefully, providing the musical foundation; Kenny Grohowski: uncannily precise and inventive drummer and percussionist.” Spirit Driven, the group’s first recording, is a highly rhythmic and spiritually motivated compositional journey through the various cultures that make up the Caribbean Islands encompassing their significance and contribution to the present day advanced musical concepts in jazz and avant-garde/free music. It uses the “word” in the form of poetry and lyrics to convey each song’s spiritual and historical message. “The music continuously flows and develops with a lithe bodily grace and expressive range, transfiguring its structural complexity and technical virtuosity into an intimate and honest gesture of oneness with each listener, only possible by virtue of consummate musicianship.” – Ramsey Ameen


Lewis Porter -- Trio / Solo -- CoverLewis Porter and co. have put together a wonderful recording full of inspired trio excursions and beautiful solo explorations….It’s full of surprises from tune to tune that captured me completely…Bravo !!!” – Joe Lovano

Renowned in a variety of disciplines (author of THE Coltrane biography and founder of the world’s first jazz history program at Rutgers), virtuoso pianist LEWIS PORTER steps out of his much in-demand sideman roles and offers an album of his own trio and solo performances. The trio, with double-bassist JORIS TEEPE and drummer RUDY ROYSTON, perform with power and grace while Porter’s intimate piano solos range from lyrical to pointillistic in this, his auspicious debut for UNSEEN RAIN.

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“It would be too much to say, thinking of the Monk tune naming the city of this title, that Cohn’s piano was an extension of the monastic aesthetic. Yet in this series of spare, thoughtful duos with the resourceful drummer Bennington, there’s something of the quirky, self-contained approach to improvisation that we might loosely trace back to the master. But I hear more Tristano via Herbie Nichols in Cohn, to tell the truth; that and a jabbing quality that is halfway between Cecil and Mengelberg too. Together, the pair deal out an awful lot of interesting crossing rhythmic patterns with occasional bombs dropped or rhapsodies heard. One great place to study Cohn’s fragmentary, space heavy approach is in the Zeitlin and Mancini tunes. But his lengthy intro to “What Bob Wants to Hear” (for Bob Rusch) is quizzical and unexpected in wondrous ways, too. I’m not quite so sold on Cohn’s vocalisms which are especially pronounced the rattling mutant swing of “The Presidents Club.” They take a furtive, probing turn on “Steven” and the first take on the title tune, but they manage to keep things spacious while still cultivating a sense of urgency and forward momentum. After some nice sequences where Bennington impresses with his finely tuned drums, the album closes out satisfyingly, with highlights in the heart-on-sleeve “Quiet Now” and a playful, spindly reading of ‘The Days of Wine and Roses.'” – Jason Bivens, Cadence

(foUR7997) No Lunch In Hackensackfour7997.no_lunch_in_hackensack_mini

Jimmy Bennington – drums, Steve Cohn  – piano, vocals

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Chris Kelsey on straight alto saxophone, Lewis Porter, on Kimball electric combo organ and Crumar Roadrunner electric piano Jack DeSalvo, electric guitar; Joe Gallant, six-string electric bass; Alan Lerner, drums are some of the most versatile and passionate musicians on the New York City creative music scene…1UP1DOWN’s music reflects the inclusive nature of the jazz we all grew up loving – a music that ruled everything in and nothing out, whilst maintaining the rhythmic thread connecting the music from Armstrong to Ornette. It’s all good. It’s all jazz.

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The Long Awaited Release of STEVE COHN’s THE NOVEL (UR9973)

2-up  2 Panel CD Booklet

This happy marriage of new music rooted in contemporary classical and free improvisation springing from jazz indeed provides intricate adventures for the listener who joins Steve Cohn – piano, shakuhachi, traditional instruments, Guillermo Gregorio – clarinet, Masahiko Kono – trombone, Bruce Ditmas – drums, on their journeys through each chapter of The Novel.

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These MomentsThe brilliant, singular guitar voice of Rob Reich is heard far and wide, but here it shines a light on his own music. Here renowned double-bassist Gandharva Earl Sauls also contributes tanbura, and drummer Jerrold Kavanagh, whose percussion setup contains many surprises including zither, unite in a sensitive yet driving session that reaches both the heart and mind.

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New from the UR BOOTLEG Series – SEND OUT SIGNALS LIVE at Tobacco Road


The third release in UNSEEN RAIN’s specially priced Bootleg Series – complete, unedited, authorized live sets featuring UNSEEN RAIN’s artists – features the exuberant SEND OUT SIGNALS quartet – Matt Lavelle – trumpet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet/Ras Moshe – tenor and soprano saxophones, flute/ Tom Zlabinger – double-bass/ Tom DeSteno – drums – in a powerful set recorded live at Tobacco Road in New York City, recorded direct-to-two-track on April 26, 2012.

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THings I Meant To Say

In the lineage of the great piano trios (one thinks of Evans and Jarrett), yet transcending 20th Century notions, even of extended interplay, these three interwoven virtuosi provide a canvas of new jazz that has roots in intuitive playing yet is compositionally whole. Pianist Bob Rodriguez, bassist Lee Marvin, and drummer Bruce Ditmas play music that, for all its tunefulness, is truly forward looking.

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When Rivers Run Free

Clarinetist/alto saxophonist Blaise Siwula’s contribution to the improvised music scene is incalculable. Here on his first recording for UNSEEN RAIN Blaise enlists the brilliance of double bassist Dmitry Ishenko and drummer Dave Miller. Subtle exchanges and variegated soundscapes run rampant on When Rivers Run Free.

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Fearless multi-instrumentalist Matt Lavelle (trumpet, flugelhorn, alto clarinet) unitesSOS with saxophone powerhouse Ras Moshe (tenor sax, flutes), impeccable double-bassist Tom Zlabinger and legendary drummer Tom DeSteno, sending out signals of of passionate, extemporaneous music on their UNSEEN RAIN debut as a band.

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ARTCRIME features the late pioneering touch-style player Frank Jolliffe, who developed his technique first on the Chapman stick and then on the Warr Guitar. John Korchock’s baritone sax, wind synthesizer and keyboards lend unique voices to the proceedings. Add experimental electronic drummer Steve Orbach and the piano, circuit-bent synth and kalimba of Bob Siebert and you have a free-jazz-meets-art-rock extravaganza.

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PAT HALL – K3rnel PaN1c (UR9985)

Masterful trombonist Pat Hall, known for his limitless jazz and Latin excursions, conceived of a group where he could incorporate a sheen of electronica into open electric jazz mayhem. Bassist Joe Gallant and drummer/producer Bruce Ditmas provide futuristic sound canvases, sometimes wild, sometimes gentle, for Pat’s trombone, reborn via live laptop treatments and Jack DeSalvo’s electric guitar odysseys into and beyond distant galaxies.

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Jack DeSalvo performs completely improvised pieces on classical guitar. “I was determined to search for a process that would necessitate moving myself out of the way and allowing music that clearly already exists in some other world, some other dimension, some parallel universe beyond myself, to flow through my instrument, the guitar. Whether or not I have been utterly successful in finding such a lofty process, what we are offering here is completely spontaneous music that is representative of the search.” – Jack DeSalvo

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Sunriseset_MJArtwork by Michele Jenkins



Happy House

“[T]his foursome is channeling a Coleman-centric spirit, at once free and vibrant.” – Downbeat

Saxophonist Chris Kelsey, trombonist Pat Hall, bassist Joe Gallant and drummer Dean Sharp take a fresh look at the paradigm-altering music from Ornette Coleman’s early period, creating an extraordinaryalbum of open, nearly telepathic swing.

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Over The Edge

“There are hundreds of free improv groups issuing recordings every year, but few of them have as much to say as this group.” – Cadence

Legendary reed master Sam Morrison has joined forced with D3 – bassist Tony DeCicco, guitarist Jack DeSalvo and drummer Bruce Ditmas to record OVER THE EDGE, an album of compositional beauty achieved through improvisation and intensive, deep listening.

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Tom DeSteno, drums, Coriolis SkyJack DeSalvo, guitar, Mark Hagan, double-bass

Traversing the borderlands of the jazz tradition from a modernist perspective, the Tom DeSteno Trio offers their new recording, Coriolis Sky, the first release on mEyeFi Media’s UNSEEN RAIN label. Music by Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Jack DeSalvo and others is presented as a unified statement featuring powerful performances by Tom DeSteno on drums, guitarist Jack DeSalvo and Mark Hagan on double-bass.

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