Matt Lavelle, March 14, 2018

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Giuseppi Logan and the great mystery   Several years ago I was selling reeds and valve oil at Sam Ash when suddenly Roswell Rudd was standing in front of me. I told him I knew Giuseppi Logan since I knew they had history. Roswell got serious, looked me right in the eye and without hesitation emphatically said that Giuseppi was a genius.   Back when I was trying to help G stage a comeback he always wanted to play standards. We never knew what he would call next, and he certainly kept me on my toes after I had given up playing standards for years. G would call tunes in keys nobody played, and going further he would play bridges from songs different than what we were playing. While he played he would sometimes stare at Francois Grillot playing bass relying on him as a kind of tether to Earth, as Francois could follow and support him wherever he went. We played this way for a couple of years and Giuseppi eventually had a crumpled up piece of paper on it with a list of the tunes we might play. Sometimes G would surprise us like when he called Confirmation at the Downtown Music Gallery and nailed it, or when we really dug into Cherokee at the Firehouse Space. So here we had a man who had made an enormous proclamation and declaration of self in the 60’s who felt that playing this way was the path to get back to himself decades later.   Here’s the thing. It was working. Eventually Giuseppi wrote all new music and the sequel to his ESP records was planned.

Matt Lavelle, February 24, 2018

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

Africa and Beyond During the last two weeks of 2017 I was in southern Africa in communion with the Sun. Back here in the ice fortress of iron madness and temple of illusions it now seems impossible. All my dreams last night took place there where the sun reigns supreme. I have family in South Africa and Zimbabwe and I was welcomed with open hearts and open arms. I took my plastic trumpet and alto clarinet and hoped to speak directly to the sky. The sky that went on forever spoke back to me. The first thing I realized was that while almost everyone in NYC is fighting for something, from survival to dream realization or both, their missions often come at the price of being cut off from nature itself. Like people like to say these days, I don’t have time for that. In Africa, away from NYC, I felt like a part of nature. Everywhere I went, I felt the presence of something greater. I sensed the spiritual power of the Earth in a way I have never felt here. Lowering the barrier between this world and the next is what I seek to do in music, but in Africa I felt that the illusion. The first thing I was able to do was release a burden I had carried since May of last year when I found my brother Bern Nix in his room, though he himself had left never to return. Africa told me that Bern had found peace. I could feel it, and as such, I felt an inner peace that had eluded me. The smoke that thunders would bring me in even closer.

Matt Lavelle, October 26, 2017

Deeper Reality

Jimmy Crack Corn When I was a kid in the 70’s I watched a lot of cartoons, and I of course watched Bugs Bunny countless times. One episode burrowed itself deep in my brain. In it, Bugs sang a song while he was mining giant carrots. The song haunted me all the way to 47 years old, when I decided to research its origins. All I could remember was the chorus ‘Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care’. What I discovered left me shook. Bugs was up first and an edited version of the cartoon popped right up on YouTube. OK, so Bugs was mining giant carrots from the master and giant Paul Bunyan despite interference from his enormous dog. As he worked he sang the song still swirling around in my childhood memories. The first line he sang - which I didn't understand as a kid, set off the alarm. "When I was young I used to wait, on master and hand him his plate." Master? A quick step over to Wikipedia and I discovered Dan Emmett, who was credited with the song in 1846. Emmet led the Virginia Minstrels and is known historically as the first person to achieve success with a large group of white people in blackface, primarily a quartet. I initially thought Emmett wrote the song and after finding a picture of him in blackface I thought I had discovered another new low in an endless supply of so called American acts that can only be considered anti-human. I went deeper, even though I wish I hadn’t.

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.