There is much to savor here, as Matt LaVelle comes from the model of the late- '50s and early- '60s Ornette Coleman school of jazz, updated by a group of mostly little-known but accomplished musicians. LaVelle carefully integrates simple melodies with an improvisational finesse that reflects a good ear and decent chops. His trumpet playing might remind the listener of Paul Smoker and Don Cherry, and although LaVelle is not as accomplished, he does a fine job soloing -- his ratty lines are a pure pleasure. His range is somewhat limited but almost every solo burns passionately. His companion on the front line, Ras Moshe, who performs on tenor sax and composed most of the tunes on Handling the Moment, impresses with his focused improvisations and punchy melodies. Together the two horns are a finely integrated pair. Bob Rusch's strikingly honest liner notes describe the difficulties inherent in the recording: The group is sometimes somewhat "off-balance"; it exhibits "confident foolishness"; the music is "not always refined" but it is "very real." The deficiencies are barely noticeable on the recording, as the tunes selected were the strongest of the batch that were recorded in the studio, and are notable for their tight statements and firm spiritual base. A strongly successful debut from LaVelle, Handling the Moment is an enjoyable romp in unusual directions, embracing accessible melodies with an individual stamp. It marks an important milestone for LaVelle, and sets him apart as a player to be watched.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy