Reviews that mention Matt Lavelle

June 1, 2016

Matt Lavelle 12 Houses

Unseen Rain UR-9945

By Ken Waxman

True believer in the latitude of free jazz, multi-instrumentalist Matt Lavelle has worked in ensembles with such advanced music figures as, William Parker and Butch Morris. Now like a post doctoral fellow ready to take his mentors’ research in new directions, Lavelle has organized a 16-piece band, whose in-the-moment unity splendidly reflects the experiences designated by the horoscope’s 12 houses.

Following the philosophy of post-doc clinicians whose experiments are multi-disciplinary, the six tracks Lavelle created for Solidarity are satisfying because he has blended additional currents into the program. Building on the large group acumen in Parker’s bands and utilizing conduction that Morris initiated, Lavelle, who plays cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet here, moves beyond expected jazz tropes and instrumentation. Besides the usual saxophones, piano, guitar, bass and drums, 12 Houses is inhabited by piccolo, bassoon, violin, cello, percussion, banjo and mandolin plus the wordless vocalization of Anaïs Maviel. MORE

June 6, 2015

Matt Lavelle/John Pietaro

Harmolodic Monk
Unseen Rain UR 9953

By Ken Waxman

Searching for an individual method with which to frame 10 familiar Thelonious Monk standards, Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro strip the tunes down to their essence(s), before enhancing the themes with their multi-instrumental skills. Still in part Monk resembles a rote Hollywood thriller. It builds up slowly to pounding excitement and eventually reinvigorates the tunes so that the program finishes strongly. But like many action pics, it loses focus and sags in the middle.

Progressive activists as well as members in good standing of NYC’s free music underground, Lavelle, who plays cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet here, plus Pietaro who uses vibraphone, bodhrán (frame drum), congas and all manner of percussion, aim to undercover the folkloric and humanist underpinning of Monk’s music via Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodic strategies. Theories aside, these sparse treatments lack the distinctive voicing Monk was able to give to his small group performances to bolster the sound to aural Technicolor. But to make up for that, this duo’s symbolic black & white treatments sharpen the aural images as if they were scenes in a classic ‘40s Film Noir. MORE

April 8, 2014

Sabir Mateen

Jubilee Ensemble
NotTwo MW 862-2

By Ken Waxman

One of the visionary improvisers loosely affiliated with bassist William Parker’s Lower East Side projects, multi-reedist Sabir Mateen is often featured with his own bands or contributing to-the-point solos in other small groups. Recoded at the Stone in 2007, this CD on the other hand is a rare and valuable instance of Mateen’s writing for a crack 15-piece ensemble, which he leads as well as playing saxophones, flutes and clarinets. Consisting of two extended suites and a couple of shorter pieces, these taut yet expansive themes bolster the continued validity of free jazz without slipping into inchoate blowing. MORE

February 11, 2014

The Sabir Mateen

Jubilee Ensemble
NotTwo MW 862-2

Adam Lane Trio

Absolute Horizon

NoBusiness NBCD61

Black Host

Life In the Sugar Candle Mines

Northern Spy NS 039

By Ken Waxman

From the time he relocated to NYC from Virginia about a decade ago, alto saxophonist Darius Jones made a major impact on the local scene, partnering with the likes of pianist Matthew Shipp, plus releasing acclaimed CDs as a leader. But Jones is a collaborative musician and these notable discs find him using his considerable talents to help realize others’ visions. MORE

August 18, 2013

Dom Minasi

The Bird, The Girl and The Donkey II
UnseenRecords foUR 7795

Norbert Stein

Pata on the Cadillac

Pata Music 21

What a difference an ocean makes. Two little big bands, one American and one German, both heavy on the horns and including only one chordal instrument apiece, express their leader’s individual definition of Jazz with these discs. Although equally exciting, the results are as different as Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s and Canada’s Stephen Harper’s view of the civil war in Syria.

Köln-based tenor saxophonist Norbert Stein with Pata on the Cadillac has produced 10 meticulously arranged original compositions that bring out the best qualities of his ensemble: brass men Ryan Carniaux and Nicolao Valiensi, fellow reedists Michael Heupel and Georg Wissel, drummer Christoph Haberer and string players Albrecht Maurer and Joscha Oetz. The result is soundtrack-like music in the best sense, with the themes creating sound pictures while using the dual rhythm-solo roles of Valiensi’s euphonium and Oetz’s double bass to their best advantages. MORE

June 23, 2010

Giuseppi Logan

The Giuseppi Logan Quintet
Tompkins Square TSQ 2325

One of the lesser-known second generation New Thingers, woodwind player/pianist Giuseppi Logan made a couple of interesting LPs for ESP-Disk in 1964 and 1965 as well as sideman appearances with trombonist Roswell Rudd and singer Patty Waters. Known equally for the strength of his music and his weakness in coping with the music business, Philadelphia-born Logan faded from view shortly afterwards and was thought to have died in the early 1990s.

But after being re-discovered living in New York a member of a Christian evangelical cult, Logan, now 75, began playing gigs with trumpeter/bass clarinetist Matt Lavelle. Lavelle and a top-flight rhythm section of pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Francois Grillot and drummer Warren Smith are all present on this, his first session in 45 years. MORE

August 29, 2005


Concrete Science
577 Records #5

Making Eye Contact with God
Utech Records UR 007

Notes from the underground – New York’s Free Jazz underground to be more precise – these CDs demonstrate that the spirit of constant experimentation is still potent on both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Perhaps confirming that Manhattan is now cozier for stock brokers than musicians, both these trio CDs were recorded in Brooklyn, CONCRET SCIENCE in a studio, MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH GOD at two different clubs. Privation economics also come into play with the recordings. CONCRET SCIENCE is on drummer Federico Ughi’s own small label, MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH GOD is released by a boutique label in an initial pressing of 50. MORE

May 16, 2005


Live Spirits No. 1
Utech Records UR-002

Live Spirits No. 2
Utech Records UR-003

New York has above ground jazz musicians (c.f. Wynton Marsalis), sort of underground jazzers (c.f. Charles Gayle) and really far underground free jazz players, some of whom are showcased on these two live discs.

Most prominent is Brooklyn-born alto and tenor saxophonist Ras Moshe, who may be undersung, but has it together enough to constantly organize gigs for his Music Now Unit. As evidenced by the locations here, Moshe finds different spaces in which to play, even if he has to go as far away as Syracuse, N.Y. MORE

December 15, 2003


Splasc (h) WS CDH 855

Before the Dawn

Downtown, they say, is a state of mind. So is so-called downtown music, as these two live big band sessions demonstrate. With polychromatic ideas enlivening both groups, and with composers extending and distend the status quo, the points of congruence between SPONTANEOUS -- recorded in May 2002 at the epicentre of hip, Manhattan’s CBGB’s -- and BEFORE THE DAWN -- recorded 16 days later at a jazz festival in Hamamatsu, Japan -- are closer than you’d imagine. MORE

May 5, 2003


Embracing the Void
Hopscotch 9

The Labyrinth
Hopscotch 12

Different as free jazz and New music, on show here are two distinct manifestations of the composing and arranging skills for larger groups by tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar. Both are engrossing, remarkably mature, compositional works for someone best known for his impassioned blowing with the likes of bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake.

EMBRACING THE VOID has a slight edge however. That’s because all 14 members of the Zoanthropic Orchestra appear better able to personalize the emotional cauldron of Tsahar avant jazz pieces than the 19 musicians of the New York Underground Orchestra can contour THE LABYTINTH into a more original form. MORE