This is the real thing: raw, live avant-garde jazz recorded in New York City, music that soars and uplifts and ignores all boundaries. Trumpeter and bass clarinetist Matt Lavelle is blessed with technical skill and great heart, and he's fueled by a ferocious spiritual imperative. His music questions and explodes human limitations, and he's constantly discovering new ways to express this search. Currently Lavelle is rewriting the rules for the trumpet by using a scale that includes nondiatonic notes, giving his music a unique richness. His bass clarinet work is equally compelling, his tone warm and rich on the low register and spine-tingling on the high end. Embracing the Tide/Making Eye Contact with God
is two CDs: the first was recorded at Galapagos in 2004 and Zebulon in 2005, and the second at the latter club, also in 2005. Throughout, Lavelle plays with bassist Matt Heyner and drummer Ryan Sawyer, forming a trio of great sympathy and power. Heyner is an amazing bassist, highly intuitive and lyrical, with a wealth of influences, including flamenco and heavy metal. Sawyer is exciting as well, his kit propelling the music whether he's offering delicate stickwork or full-out cooking.
Among the highlights is the beautiful "2013," Lavelle wailing with open-hearted urgency and holding nothing back. His bass clarinet pours out lovely, lyrical runs as well as gritty blues and Middle Eastern flavor, all backed by the simmering, shimmering rhythm section. "Sweat Lodge Dance" is a dance indeed, a shamanistic outpouring invoking a primordial trance state, exploring the edge where the ego gives way to something bigger.
The tour de force is "Eye Contact with God," a highly personal song where Lavelle marvels over his mother's recovery from her second brain surgery. The song travels the line between life and death, again invoking powers greater than our own. Lavelle's playing is absolutely fearless, and his ability to express himself unparalleled, with his rhythm section right beside him for the entire journey.
Personnel: Matt Lavelle: trumpet, bass clarinet, flugelhorn; Matt Heyner: bass; Ryan Sawyer: drums.