Matt Lavelle, October 5, 2017

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front - The Nitty Gritty

Deeper Reality: The Matt Lavelle Interview Here at No Sound Left Behind, we have a special guest ladies and gentlemen. The first time I heard him play was at Pine Tree Elementary in 1978, when he took a solo during a concert when none was planned. Calamity ensued as his band director Mr.Napoli feared he would lose control of an ensemble that had already lost a wheel. The solo was later viewed as a moment of commitment, exuberance and abandon. Here and now in 2017, Lavelle has been pursuing himself through music in New York City for about 25 years. Matt, first the obvious opening question: why interview yourself? Well, something I find strange today is that jazz writers seek out people over and over again with the same story. The story goes like this: Somebody fell in love with jazz, graduated from a jazz program, and then started pursuing their music in a city type environment with other musicians. Now they’re releasing their first or tenth album as a leader, and it’s time for everybody to get on board. That’s a noble quest for anybody today, but is it a story? Is the title of your first album “I went to school to study jazz?” One thing I do have is a story, and like Louis Armstrong sang, “they can’t take that away from me.” Can you tell my readers the gist of your story? Sure! Thanks for asking Matt. I call myself the bartender's son because that’s what I am. My father was a bartender for twenty-five years. Sometimes I worked with him.

Matt Lavelle, September 18, 2017

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Archie Shepp. As survival gigs go, I have been able to make my way into places where I cross paths with total street people all the way up to cultural icons. At Sam Ash, I worked behind a counter that was not unlike a bar that served up reeds instead of drinks. The bar would enable me to get into conversations about my favorite topic, and what I may have to change the title of this blog to be-deeper reality. Sometimes I suddenly and unexpectedly meet true masters and have to come up with a topic on the fly that might reveal a vital truth of some kind. In this way, I received a sanction for the alto clarinet to exist when Paquito D’Rivera told me without reservation that it was a beautiful instrument. I was able to have a real exchange with Hugh Masekela who told me what he really thinks of mutes, not suitable for prime time presentation here at No Sound Left Behind-see me in person for his unique perspective. James Carter came in on the regular which led to all kinds of exchange, notably when I tracked down a record of Ben Webster on clarinet. I received a sanction of my bass clarinet work when David Murray heard me playing. He had let me sit in with him on trumpet in the early 90’s at a private party in Nanuet NY, and offered to have me come over to his spot so we could read a complete transcription of Paul Gonsalves great solo at Newport.

Matt Lavelle, August 28, 2017

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Bern Nix and the River of Power Harvey doesn't seem to have a need to discriminate between Conservatives or Liberals, the haves and the have nots, or people with different cultural backgrounds. Harvey wants to drop buckets of rain on everyone. Already a catastrophe, Harvey may be categorized as a natural disaster or by some an act of God. News agencies seek out ways to report on what’s happening resulting in the Governor speaking of all the folks in the area as Texans or Houstonians, no longer separated by color or creed. Reports come in how people come together to face adversity from a power level beyond the ability of any government to regulate. People came together like this  during 9/11, and I’m sure countless other times. I only wish that it didn't take such extreme scenarios to finally reveal the humanity inside of all of us that transcends the driving forces of division sourced in racism, cultural ignorance, and classism. The power behind Harvey is always mere inches away. During the summer when I’m not working I have a sacred music space of sorts on the bank of the river in Astoria Park. Sometimes my spot is totally under water and other times I get to put my chair down where there might be up to five feet of water. After the tug boats strut their way by, I have to watch out for rogue waves that have caught me more than once. The reason I’m playing down there is to get as close to the power of the river as possible.

Matt Lavelle, August 6, 2017

Tales from the Front - The Nitty Gritty

Facebook Live and Beyond Sleep deprivation or insomnia affects people in different, and personal ways. During my sleep process, I have endured sleep apnea since the late 80’s. My version as of late is my body forcing me awake to breathe several times a night as I ride a perpetual roller coaster of sorts between lucid dreams and the space in between, where those demons you thought you vanquished lurk in the shadows. During sleep, my mind never truly rests, and at times I’m held hostage by my music which refuses to turn off in my head. My right three fingers that push down my trumpet valves often continue to finger the horn even though it’s not in my hands. There are times when my fingers continue to do this even while I’m dreaming or thinking about something else entirely, as my body continues to play music even without me being there. I asked William Parker once if someone could talk to their music and he found the question interesting. I have spent countless hours in conversation with my music when I should be asleep, as it tries to help me understand multiple deeper realities. Sometimes I’m granted visions. Recently I was shown a painting of myself on a wall in a different reality where the ancient Egyptians now reside. The most intriguing vision I may have ever had was shortly after I discovered that my dear friend Bern had left his body. I saw the Sphinx in ancient Egypt, but the face was now Berns. Bern’s passing has made a deep impact on me.

Matt Lavelle, June 5, 2017

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front - The Nitty Gritty

Low Barometer, Farewell Brother Bern Nix One path through grief is to play music. Another one is to write. I have been called here to the page once more in an attempt to capture and hold onto that speck of light in the dark. The sun has been hiding behind the clouds this past week, and with good reason. Perhaps she can’t look me in the eye after what she’s done. That’s OK; I don’t want to look at her anyway. The great mystery has spoken, and we have lost a man who had music coursing through his veins. As I  posted a very short time ago: Bern Nix just played a chord that plugged in the moon, painted clouds different colors and made the wind visible to the naked eye. Such was the power of Bern Nix, a deep thinker, an incredibly unique scribe, and one of the great guitarists in jazz history. I first met Master Bern while subbing for the late great Roy Campbell Jr. in a band led by Jemeel Moondoc. My brother Francois was also in his trio for a long time. When I would see Bern, we would inevitably end up talking about being caught up in the all-seeing eye of Ornette, and how to try and see the world afterward, seemingly being altered forever. Our exchange led to him asking me to join his trio making it a quartet. We had a few sessions in Francois kitchen to try it out, and after he found Reggie Sylvester on drums, the band was born, and our friendship truly began. Many, many hours in Francois kitchen we spent playing Bern’s tunes, exploring every crease and corner for the musically unknown.