To escape the cold that makes me feel old this week I took another trip up to Trumpet Mountain.I walked into the main hall and heard Clifford Brown practicing in a room inside.I stood outside his door and listened.The stuff he was playing was way,way past running down chord changes.
“Brownie’s been hanging out with Don Cherry and Don Ayler”
I was shocked to hear these words come from none other than Gil Evans standing in front of me.Gil said he was on Trumpet mountain to talk to Miles about a new symphonic work but that nobody had seen him.
“I’m glad I ran into you Matt Lavelle.I have some thoughts about you and that lady Alto Clarinet.You have been friends now a long time,isn’t that your third Alto? Look,.when you sold the Bass I knew you weren’t bullshitting but your still acting like your just friends.It’s time for intimacy my friend.I’ll tell you what you all ready know.The key is to get your articulation tight.You need to personalize and finalize that haunting thing you get from the horn.It’s dark.Miles loves it and told me he was going to use that color someday.”
“Do me a favor and tell my friends Bones Malone,Howard Johnson,Bruce Ditmas,and of course my son Miles I said hello.I know you see them at that music store you work at.Sorry to hear that Music Row is done.”
Suddenly Clifford himself emerged from the practice room smiling.
“Hey man!” Clifford and I shook hands right away,it was like we had known each other since forever even though we just met.He was still holding the horn off course.
“Matt Lavelle.Your almost out the oven.I’m glad you came by.Here’s how to put the cherry on top of your sundae.Articulation.”
There was that word again.Shit,I’ve heard guys whisper that around me before.Maybe I was drunk.
“I’ll tell you one thing about Wallace Roney and Wynton Marsalis,they can articulate their ass off! That was my deal,what made me have such a personal thing.That’s the final step for you.As usual,just don’t look to Miles,Wallace has better articulation then him anyway.Check out how Clark Terry works out of clarinet books..that’s a way for you to unify your deal and become yourself.I never got down in Eb..you like it? You do have a lot to say,just try and say it better.You know how you are with those typos on your blog.Don Cherry gave me a copy of your “In Heart Only” the other day.Nice stuff man.”
“Now you have to go back and move Sam Ash from Music Row.You know Kenny Dorham worked at Manny’s right?”
Indeed.What a trip to run into those guys.Before I left We listened to a record Brownie and Gil made together,and no it’s not on Spotify son.I took there advice to heart.As they both said I now had to deal with moving the entire Sam Ash store on 48th to w34th st.Rockefeller Rent was to damn high so this long chapter of NYC culture gotta go.West 48th between 6th and 7th once had up to 30 different musical operations going down according to Paul Ash.I’ve had worse survival systems,way worse,so I’m in the trenches while we move.Moving stores is not new to me.I moved TOWER uptown once,and even Sam Ash across the street when our original brass building was condemned for structure damage.The Ash is after all where I get most of my material.I was on the fence about bringing my jam session back but I got a pep talk from a trumpet player who was truly touched by my thing to get people on common ground to celebrate the sound of life.
Back on the home front I’m seeing that when it comes to music and NYC I’m one of those people who just cant let it go no matter how void of culture the city becomes.I’m not here to entertain in the great playground for the rich,I’m here to talk to the world even if it does take them 30 years to hear me.I just don’t want the world to pass me by,a fate worse then death.NYC never stops asking you if you really have something to say.I’ve taken to studying and enlisting some Internet marketing since most of the world spends half of their lives online just like I am right now.If I wasn’t here in NY I wouldn’t be writing this blog.I would be writing some kind of free Jazz Science Fiction novels.Maybe I still will in my Art Studio in Tenor Town over in Cloudland.No matter what happens I just don’t want to go down like Peter Parker and get forced out.Spidey’s death still has me tossing and turning every night.
My people here in the heights know me better than I know myself.
After Snoopy the Chiwawa came running down the hallway to say hello to me for the 5th time today my man Rogelio asked me in Spanish:
Rogelio:”Mateo..still with that FLU? I knew you weren’t immune like you said.”
Mateo:”Just one day man,I declared war on the Gripe and won.Mad juice.My crazy dreams were worse than ever”
Rogelio:”I told Mirella.When I heard that horn coming out of your room again I knew you were better”
Never better,since every day you wake is another chance to see the sun.
It’s just when you think you’ve lost,you’ve won. . . . .
For Snoopy,with special thanks to Clifford,Gil,and Gretchen Parlato for her lyrics that helped me find a good Coda.Thanks as well to Esperanza Spalding who’s music played while I wrote.Wish I could write like her.Been writing a lot as of late,might have to take a Hiatus in Clarinet City.Peace.