Matt Lavelle, April 8, 2018

Deeper Reality - Tales from the Front

The Street   This past week in NYC I had some recurring problems with my alto clarinet. Back in the day jazz musicians might have been sleeping off the late night hit but I was out the door at 7am so I could take lady alto to my man Perry Ritter, a long time sax and clarinet repairman who has been holding it down in NYC for over 20 years. I’ve been going to Perry for all of that time, turned on to him by Daniel Carter. I had to leave early so I could open up Michiko studios, THE jazz rehearsal spot in NYC run by another NYC legend, Roberto Romeo. At the top of the stairs at Michiko is the famous framed and signed pictures of sax players that have been to Roberto, who is another legendary sax technician. Stopping and looking at the walls of pictures, you can bask in the history of NYC jazz. It’s one of the last living strongholds of something that more and more feels like it’s under attack. On the way to see Perry, I walked down the late music row on 48th st, which once was an entire block of music stores including Sam Ash where I also worked. Music Row is so completely gone that if you didn’t know it was there you would never know it even existed. Such is the brutal and deeper reality of NYC. NYC doesn’t care if you come or if you leave. NYC doesn’t care if you contribute to any kind of culture while you’re here. You can hustle to survive while you’re here, but NYC will stare at you right in the eye when your hungry.   No food for you.

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.