Matt Lavelle, April 10, 2019

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

49 49 trips around the sun is not just a quick skip through the park. My older friends are quick to tell me that I’m still young. It seems that as long as someone is older than you, then you’re still young. It goes right to the top. My father, in his mid-70’s, was telling me about the old-timers he drives around in his bus for Veterans gig. The guys in their 80’s and 90’s look back on people in their 70’s and say “What, your only 70?” I know and have know people up there in their 80’s. My first mentor Hildred made it to 85 or so. My buddy Giuseppi is 83 and seems to almost exist outside of time. Doc Cheatham is the oldest person I ever met, and he had chops in his 90’s. When I met him, he told me to tell Hildred to call him right away, there was music to play! As I write I’m about to turn 49, my last year in the 40’s. I’ll never forget Roy Campbell turning 50 and telling me he made the 50 yard line. I never had a mid-life crisis, at least I didn’t suddenly start driving a motorcycle or something like that. I have had somewhat of a musical mid-life crisis however. We all have our paths to walk, and have to be who we are. The timing of the way each lifetime works is what haunts me. What haunts me is that I sense the master plan’s presence, but access to it is denied. Every now and then in life an event can occur that changes everything. You can meet a person that just changes your entire life.

Matt Lavelle, March 3, 2019

Deeper Reality

Soul Thesis Who writes the idea of your soul? We all have to be who we are in this world, no matter what, but who decides where and when you are born, and with what purpose? I have always felt out of time and out of place, and left with no choice but to trust the process of life itself. So many things just make no natural sense, don’t make any sense on a level that deep down you just know are wrong. There are things that human beings have done and are doing that cannot be right. Life so often feels like a never ending test of what Spike Lee called do the right thing. We have failed in such extremes that one wonders how the school continues to exist. Over and over we must make the choice that somehow from deep down inside, we know is the right thing. What happens when you choose the path that you know is wrong? In jazz we’re thought to have to tell a story. But who’s writing it? I like to think we have a hand in writing it, and that our experience as souls, and the choices that we’ve made, lead us to the lessons we need to move forward. This is the issue I have with astrology.

Matt Lavelle, January 9, 2019

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Natural Music, Part 2 (Eagles and Snakes) Just a few weeks past, the Universe had me walking across town in NYC with none other than Pharoah Sanders. When you’re around someone imbued with that much spiritual power, you can sense something present that’s beyond the energy that you’re used to, especially in such a twisted environment as Times Square. The weather was brick cold, and the wind was gusting. As we moved past Broadway and headed West, an especially heavy gust came right for us, the kind that can make you lose your balance. I suggested that we seek shelter. Master Sanders did not agree.   “I don’t care about the cold. I want to feel the wind. I want to feel the spirit of it.”   Weeks later, I’m still thinking about what Pharoah felt. Master Sanders music has always contained a connection to forces beyond this world, and connected to those parts of life that are beyond our control as human beings. The forces of birth, death, and love. Forces like the almighty Sun. Seeing his embrace of the wind has stayed with me from deep inside the fortress of iron madness. Some might call the Zombies in Times Square unnatural, in their attempt to somehow head home covered with a nice superficial gloss. The wind whips its way through Times Square unimpeded, carrying the forces of change. The wind, has witnessed not some, but all of our transgressions over the centuries. The wind, is part of the natural world that some have turned their back on.

Matt Lavelle, December 17, 2018

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Reflections As 2018 draws to a close, I have found myself not reflecting on the past year, but on all the music I’ve been involved in since 1978 when Mr.Natoli told me I was a trumpet player. I'll be 49 next year. I’ve spent the last several years researching music when I’m not working on it or playing it. With the rain coming down yesterday and a break from work, I was drawn to research my own music. Something told me to go find that box of mini-discs. I put on Monk and Sonny Rollins playing Reflections, and the next thing you know about 5 hours had passed. What follows is more for me than anyone reading, I’ll admit my selfish nature straight off. I need to document myself, and can’t explain why. (2018 was heavy, from the 12 Houses playing Beacon, the release of Retograde on ESP, and recording my next quartet record coming out in the Spring on Unseen Rain called Hope)   Roy Campbell used to carry an old school tape recorder around with him, and place it right below him, recording hundreds, if not thousands of performances. I did the cassette thing too. Then mini-disc came out and was a big deal, for me anyway. I could upgrade my recording game pretty easily. Some of my records were made on mini-disc. CD-R was next, and when those first TDK CD burners came out, that changed everything again. Francois Grillot had one burning night and day. With the advent of the digital age, all of my recordings became relics overnight.

Matt Lavelle, December 13, 2018

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Cornet Karma Long have I been haunted by the cornet. There's something mystical about them. They contain a human element that is difficult to grasp from a technical perspective. Here's a horn that plays a vital role in our history, going all the way back to Pops Cornet Chop Suey and Bix Singin' the Blues. Even further, to King Oliver, and all the way to Buddy Bolden himself. I wondered recently if Buddy might have been a literal ghost. He certainly seems that way in the one surviving photograph. Going deeper on Bolden, the story of mental illness and playing jazz starts with him. Bolden, the first great soloist, spent the last 24 years of his life in a mental home. It certainly doesn't mean something detrimental. Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Donald Ayler, and Giuseppi Logan all spent time in these kind of places. I like to think that if you look into the eyes of God with your music, coming back to focus on a fallen world becomes difficult. Back to the cornet. The fat little horn that sings. Cornets aren't built to shout you into submission like trumpets, they invite you inside. (Though that didn't stop Bolden from summoning people to his bandstand from across the river) Not all cornet players embrace it for what it is. Rex Stewart, Ray Nance, Thad Jones, Nat Adderley, and Bobby Bradford came alive on cornet. These days, there are several specialists that play new music through the cornet, sometimes from the outer limits.