Why You'll Have to Visit Arcosanti to Hear The Album Leaf

Jimmy LaVelle of The Album Leaf
Jimmy LaVelle of The Album Leaf

By definition, an "album leaf" is a musical piece written in dedication to a friend or admirer to be inserted in their album or autograph book. Whether it was intentional or not, Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf has inserted his own leaves into his latest project.

The Album Leaf started in 1998 when LaValle experimented with electronic organs, synthesizers, and software controllers to produce rhythmic ambient music. His most popular album, In a Safe Place, launched him into the electronic music world.

Currently, LaValle and his band of collaborators are working in the studio to produce their fifth studio album, due out next year. But until then, LaValle teamed up with Michael Raines to produce a documentary about The Album Leaf's tour through China and Japan, called Beyond There.

When asked why make a documentary, LaValle answered, "Nobody's really toured China. It's not a common place and there's a lot of commotion around the U.S.-China relationship, and we thought it would be interesting to document that. We do very well around most of Asia, and we had never been to China."

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Lucky fans in California and Arizona have the ability to screen the documentary in their state, while also enjoying an acoustic solo performance by LaValle. But, what about the rest of the world?

"There's politics involved with my next record," says LaValle.

What he means by that statement is that when it comes down to it, artists have to strategically plan their route so there's no room for "overkill", or overplaying a market. It's a common clause in artist contracts that a musician cannot perform within a certain mile radius within a certain timeframe. Because of this, LaValle is saving a Phoenix performance for their next tour in support of their record.

I asked Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents, who booked the show, if he would consider booking The Album Leaf in Phoenix for their album release tour, to which Levy boldly replied, "100 percent yes. For sure. No doubt."

It makes me wonder, why Arcosanti? Why not Flagstaff, Prescott, or Yuma, where shows are normally booked outside of Phoenix? Levy states that he's been going to Arcosanti on-and-off for a number of years and it had been a dream of his to book a show there.

"It's so iconic to Arizona," Levy says "It's a pretty spectacular place. Like, if you were to Google Image-search 'Arcosanti,' you'd think to yourself 'I really wanna go there.'"

Beauty aside, Levy knew The Album Leaf would be a great musical pairing. "[LaValle] is always up for something new and different, so I booked them in a spot I knew would fit them musically and perfectly."

Although you have to wait until the next tour to see the full band play live, the trek to Arcosanti will ilkely be worth it -- you see LaValle's solo act, as well as screen the documentary. Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, iCaray, North Brother Island, and DJ Sean Watson will also perform. Levy says the show will be "a fun evening with great acts. I really hope people come up and camp for the evening and spend the weekend here. It's a perfect end-of-summer roadtrip-getaway." And if Levy hasn't sold you, then LaValle adds, "The sunset and desert landscape will pair perfectly with the event."

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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