Matt Lavelle, May 23, 2017

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front - The Nitty Gritty

A force for good, the astrology of John Coltrane The first time I felt a genuine connection between my soul and music was given to me by John Coltrane. In my early 20’s while working the night shift at a supermarket, I found myself with nights off, being wide awake while the rest of the world was in slumber. One hot summer evening I took my Walkman and my new John Coltrane cassette titled OM and started walking downtown around 3:30 am. As if I was guided by some unknown force, I ended up sitting on the steps of a church that I had attended in the past, and I played the cassette. At this point, I had heard maybe 30% of Trane’s music and nothing past A Love Supreme. During the music, I felt a connection to a deeper part of myself that I had never felt before. What I was hearing was beyond any music I had ever experienced. I heard sound from beyond this known sphere of existence. My grandfather was a devout Catholic and sitting on the steps of the church with John Coltrane; I was spiritually awakened for the first time in my life. Hearing many years later that Trane was on LSD during the recording doesn’t change what happened for me. Reading that he didn’t want it released makes me only grateful that it was. Between hearing OM and seeing Eric Dolphy play with him on a VHS tape that I borrowed from a library shortly after this, my life became devoted to music as something more than itself. Music became a gateway or a bridge to a hidden reality that I knew was there, even if I couldn't see it.

Matt Lavelle, May 16, 2017

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front - The Nitty Gritty

Free at last, the astrology of Albert Ayler and beyond The Coltrane Tone Circle is now being researched as an example of the relationship between jazz and physics, music and geometry, and beyond. Now 50 years after his transition, we’re finally reaching a place where we can start to look into the areas Coltrane was driven to explore, as he attempted to make eye contact with God through his sound. While others are looking into the math, and some limited aspects of the principles attached to the form and energy of spiritual numerology, there’s another area I feel we’re ready to explore: The core Astrology of the lives of the most iconic figures in jazz. In looking at the Coltrane Circle, I see an Astrology circle; I see--the 12 Houses. Jazz musicians that are into astrology are certainly not a new thing. Charles Downs practices and the late great Will Connell was very deep into it. Will told me a story once about Horace Tapscott slamming his astrology book shut on him without offering an explanation as to why. I learned from my Aunt Sherry, my esoteric rock in my bloodline. There’s a case to be made that the information in a natal chart is not meant for us to see, as looking at the information is a violation of trust in God. In my chart with Uranus in the 9th house, I have to look. In regards to one’s relationship with God, I needed to look into the chart of Albert Ayler first, whose musical and spiritual relationship with the Universe was one of the most extreme in jazz history.

Matt Lavelle, May 14, 2017

Tales from the Front

Giuseppi Logan and the Light Not since January of this year have I had time to write here at No Sound Left Behind. I devoted every second to getting better at music and writing. At Rutgers, I engaged in an independent study with Dr. Henry Martin to transcribe 6 Duke Ellington small band sides. Coming from my harmelodic perspective, this was an enormous challenge as I attempted to mind meld with Duke, examining every decision he made with a magnifying glass. At the same time, I entered the world of Dr. Kwami Coleman who tasked me with taking my writing to the next level, culminating in writing a true academic paper 22 pages long that I titled The Deeper Realities of Bix Beiderbecke. I intend to publish this paper which I believe will leave many folks unhinged as I went directly into the issues of race in jazz that continue to haunt us today, including the concept of white authenticity. While I was working on these projects, and also switching my in order to survive to survive work drama’s I kept thinking that I had to get out to Far Rockaway to check in on brother G. Today, a window finally opened up. As I have written before Far Rockaway is far, and the only way there required a forced G train bus transfer, one of the worst MTA scenarios. I was hoping for a group of people to come with me to celebrate G’s birthday, but my plea on Facebook fell on deaf digital ears. I wasn’t expecting much, but 3 or 4 people would have been so uplifting.

Matt Lavelle, January 14, 2017

Tales from the Front

End Times The following are the liner notes to 12 Houses second album on Unseen rain records, about to be released. Stay tuned for the links.   One of the signatures of the 12 Houses is that with the exception of the singularly unique voices of guitar players Jack DeSalvo and Anders Nilsson, very rarely is an instrument doubled. In fact, the only time this occurs is when we are joined by special friends like incomparable global citizen Nicole Johänntgen or shaman Ras Miguel who hails from the mountains of Puerto Rico. Each of the houses is an individual sound-color and story. The seed for the creation go the 12 Houses was planted in a series of discussions I had with Ornette Coleman. In one important conversation, he pointed out to me that, instrumentation aside, what most traditional large ensembles were missing was a balance in male and female energy. I still am not aware of any large group in jazz history which has pursued this elemental balance.  In another discussion, I recall wondering out loud, what it might be like to have a large ensemble in which you could hear every individual color at the same time. Ornette smiled when he said, “There’s only one way to find out.” If we dare to enter the mind of God, we can wonder about what decisions were made in creating life as we know it in order for the human race to become itself. Seemingly, separation by gender and culture continues to be far more than we can handle.

Matt Lavelle, December 11, 2016

Tales from the Front - The Nitty Gritty

Natural Music The other day at my trumpet bar in midtown NYC I was playing Miles live at the Plugged Nickel when another musician stopped by, and informed me that Miles was done after Someday My Prince Will Come. After a moment of shock and disbelief, I wanted to hear why, but all he would say was that Miles lost his way, and doubled down that Barry Harris could validate his position. Of course, one could wonder how could anybody say that everything Miles did after 1961 was irrelevant. Going deeper this is yet another situation where a musician is being told not to play music without a very specific book of rules that you're forbidden to break. At least Wynton, when he was listening to Cecil Taylor with his son, who was into the music, told him he had to choose what kind of music he wanted to play. The bop or bust school doesn't even allow a choice, other than the choice to sign on. I understand that some people need a rule book to structure their lives. Some people need and want to be told not to listen to Miles after 1961, or not to listen to late Coltrane. I subscribe to learning how music works before you try to challenge the process of creating it. Hold on, though--Somehow in all of this are musicians trying to figure out just who they are, and what their natural music is. **FLASHBACK** It's the early days at Smalls, and I've been haunting the 2 am till dawn nightly session.