A forward-thinking trumpeter and reed player, Matt Lavelle has earned a high reputation as a gifted soloist with a bent toward adventurous free jazz.
Initially emerging on the New York jazz scene in the early '90s, Lavelle studied with Ornette Coleman prior to the legendary saxophonist's death, and played with artists like Sabir Mateen, William Parker, Henry Grimes, and others. His own albums, like 2003's Trumpet Rising Bass Clarinet Moon and 2011's Goodbye New York, Hello World, showcase his inventive sound, influenced by the '60s avant-garde as well as more contemporary idioms.
Born in 1970 and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Lavelle played trumpet growing up. By the late '80s, he was being mentored in Nyack, New York with lesser-known swing-era saxophonist Hildred Humphries, who had toured with Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and others. From there, he studied at Berklee in Boston, after which he based himself in New York City. Since leaving school, he has performed with a bevy of artists including Warren Smith, Eric Mingus, Roy Campbell, Jemeel Moondoc, Mat Maneri, Ras Moshe, Matana Roberts, Francois Grillot, William Hooker, and many others. He made his recorded debut with Assif Tsahar and the New York Underground Orchestra on 2002's The Labyrinth.
As a solo performer, he debuted with Handling the Moment on CIMP in 2002. Trumpet Rising Bass Clarinet Moon arrived in 2004. Around this time, he also began studying privately with Ornette Coleman. In 2006, he issued his third album as a leader, Spiritual Power, followed by Manifestation Drama in 2009. The following year, he recorded with Giuseppi Logan, playing on and producing the saxophonist's first album since dropping out in the '60s, The Giuseppi Logan Quintet.
Along with performing, Lavelle is an avid writer and blogger. He has published two books, including 2011's New York City Subway Drama and Beyond, and 2013's The Jazz Musician's Tarot Deck. In 2011, he issued his own Goodbye New York, Hello World. Also that year, he formed the 12 Houses Orchestra. In 2012, he appeared on William Parker's concert album Essence of Ellington: Live in Milano. The sax and trumpeter's Unseen Rain arrived on ESP Records in 2018. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi