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Monday, April 23, 2007

Matt Lavelle Trio - Spiritual Power (Silkheart, 2007) ****

Matt Lavelle is a multi-instrumentalist : he plays trumpet, flugelhorn and bass clarinet. This is, I think, his first CD with a trio, and it is more than appealing. He is accompanied by veterans Hilliard Green on bass and Mike Thompson on drums. The lack of a harmonic chordal instrument is more than compensated by the intensity of the interplay. The tone for the album is set from the first piece, "Spiritual Power" : a powerful, chasing, relentless propulsing composition that gets out the best of the three musicians. The same intensity continues on the second piece, with the trumpet being changed for the clarinet. Don't look for clearly delineated melodies here, but that is definitely not the objective. The third piece, "Si Se Puede" gets Spanish shouting support from the musicians and is an exhilirating, pulsing, halting song with powerful drum and bass work. After all this intensity, "End Times" brings a moment of rest in the album : Green plays arco for several minutes, to be joined by Lavelle on the bass clarinet, who takes over the initiative and further improvises on the sad theme. The most beautiful piece is "I Will Have Love In My Life" that starts with a drums solo from Thompson and which evolves into a bluesy free theme that hails back to the roots of jazz. Great stuff. For those who like open and unpredictable music.