Trumpet Rising and Bass Clarinet Moononefinalnote.com review
Multi-instrumentalist Matt Lavelle has made an impression over the last few years as a sideman for the likes of William Parker and Steve Swell. Trumpet Rising Bass-Clarinet Moon finds him performing live in New York City just this last June—talk about quick turnaround times! And the music has that kind of almost guerilla aesthetic: Raw, provisional, with an elemental appeal. That on the opening of the second track Lavelle squeaks where he intends to scream should be accepted as part of the territory. This is a dispatch from the frontlines, not polished prose.
Lavelle favors simple and direct heads, evocative tidbits of melody that can be spun into extended statements from all hands. Here those collaborators include guitarist Anders Nilsson, bassist Francois Grillot, drummer Federico Ughi and flutist and percussionist Atiba N. Kwabena. They open with "Lavellism", which twists downward, as Lavelle (on trumpet, as he is on three of the four extended tracks) thoroughly mines its resources. He plays with a primal buzz. His tone evokes not only the earliest instances of a human setting lips to sphere, but also calls to mind a kid just learning to play. He blows with assurance, spelling out direct, no-nonsense lines.
"The Hierophant" features Lavelle's bass clarinet work. Opening with a folkloric theme using what in Western music is considered an "exotic scale"—one with prominent half-steps and minor thirds—and Kwabena's percussion, he surprises by instead of slipping into a steady rhythm when the rest of the band joins him, he rather cuts to a rubato section that prevails throughout. Another extended ballad, "Summer Snow", follows. Fittingly the tune is out-of-time, drifting, and ethereal with Nilsson and Grillot each getting a chance to summon up a picture of New York City enthralled by a mystical August blizzard.
Nilsson makes an impression throughout the date. His approach is flexible, from atmospheric ringing chords to rocking jabs. When he and Lavelle engage in trade-offs on the opening cut, his electronic sound contrasts with Lavelle's unadorned acoustic tone. On "The Hierophant", he sounds delicate while leaving space for Grillot's bass to shine through.
The closer "Flashback" picks up the tempo a bit, opening with Grillot's slippery bass and Kwabena's flute before Lavelle enters on trumpet hammering out a one-note theme. He and Nilsson engage in a bit of testy conversation with the guitarist adding fuzz tone to contrast with the trumpeter's buzzing lines. It's a fitting bit of interaction with which to close this satisfying document.