Tag Archives: Daniel Levin

Jazzwrap review by Vern

Daniel Levin – Inner Landscape (CF 224)
Daniel Levin has been at the forefront lately in the creative circles of jazz. His recordings (both in duo, trio and quartet settings) have been some of the most inventive and challenging in improvised music. It is amazing to think that after seven albums as leader that he has never recorded a solo cello album. Until now. Inner Landscape contains six fully improvised pieces that feel more contextual than spontaneous. It’s a journey of individual passages with distinct stories interwoven between the chords. Levin takes the listener from a well focused starting point, then catapults you into a realm where the boundaries of free jazz, improvisation, classical and jazz just fall by the wayside. It becomes MUSIC. No defined genre (only for you, the listener, to decide). “Landscape 2” displays these thoughts brilliantly. It is a piece with endless possibilities. It begins with some loose but fast paced finger work from Levin. He sets the tempo by utilizing the space around the composition. There are short gaps between each moment before he really begins to focus and let loose. The improvised sections on first listen may be hard to grasp but on second listen you are full engulfed by the structure and patterns Levin has created. “Landscape 6” is Levin walking you through forest at dusk. At first it seems peaceful and you delight in the beautiful trails. But then darkness falls and your psyche creeps in and your thoughts start to betray you. Levin quickly scrambles the pieces and you are left to guide yourself to the exit. But the music moves up in pace, and the journey seems in all directions–Levin brings the listener back only slightly and only for a few moments before literally stretching you right out of the piece (you’ll understand that when you hear the piece). Inner Landscape is a collection of multiple themes with various shapes, colours and patterns that need deep repeated listens. Emotional. Moving. Unexpected. And yet well rounded. There are only a few cellists on the scene today that can make the instrument sound more than what it is in addition to taking you on an other-worldly journey. Daniel Levin continues to do this with ease. Inner Landscape is a superb first solo outing and I’m hoping he sprinkles more like this in between his other projects. Brilliant.
http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/2011/06/daniel-levin-inner-landscape.html

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The New York City Jazz Record review by John Sharpe

Daniel Levin – Inner Landscape Daniel Levin (CF 224)
It wasn’t until he broke his arm in 1949 that bassist Oscar Pettiford became a jazz pioneer on the cello. He experimented with its smaller cousin, which he could play even with his arm in a sling and performed and recorded on it for the rest of his career. But not until the ‘60s New Thing did the cello properly find its place. Today the cello plays second fiddle to no one, especially on the disc at hand.

On Inner Landscapes we are left with the cello alone. On his first solo record, Daniel Levin allows his imagination to run riot over the course of six improvisations from a brace of live dates captured during 2009. In the liners Levin describes his intention that the music be “casual but very determined” and he fulfills that wish through an impressive focus on weight, line, dynamics and overall direction. On the way he invokes all manner of musics with prodigious skill: jazz, classical, improv, noise, vocal chorus. But nowhere are the references sustained as he restlessly pursues an unceasing inner flow, which makes blow-by-blow description thankless. Contrasts and jump-cuts a bound, with ideas picked up, examined and discarded in favor of newer routes all within the space of a few minutes. Some moments stand out in relief: a passage of plaintive cries pitched against dark grainy slashes; a litany of multi-layered abrasions; a sequence of descending chuckles in contrasting registers. But in practice the six tracks are all of a piece. His technique is unquestioned and he revels in the physicality of the instrument. Those with an adventurous streak or interest in the outer reaches of the cello universe will find much to savor.

Más Jazz Magazine reviews by Pachi Tapiz


Daniel Levin – Inner Landscape (CF 224)

Tim Berne / Bruno Chevillon – Old and Unwise (CF 221)
BassDrumBone – The Other Parade (CF 223)
Ralph Alessi and This Against That – Wiry Strong (CF 220)
Tim Berne: Insommia (CF 215)
En 2011 el sello Clean Feed cumple su décimo aniversario. Con más de 200 referencias publicadas, un año sí yotro también aparece destacado en las votaciones anuales entre los mejores sellos del año correspondiente en revistas y medios especializados. En el año de su aniversario ha publicado ya una decena de referencias, entre las que hay unas cuantas grabaciones destacadas.

Inner Landscape es un disco en solitario de Daniel Levin. El chelista es uno de los músicos que se podría calificar como habitual del sello en los últimos meses congrabaciones publicadas del Daniel Levin Quartet o apareciendo como colaborador en otros grupos (Ivo Perelman Quartet). Inner Landscape recoge seis improvisaciones que más allá del fruto de la inspiración instantánea en el momento de la grabación suponen un proceso de reflexión y maduración. El disco está grabado en dos sesiones en Nueva York y Chicago, y proponen un pequeño viaje a partir de los breves motivos que inician cada uno de los paisajes sonoros. Levin hace uso de todo su arsenal de recursos empleando el pizzicato y el arco, y también percutiendo sobre el instrumento. Entre las referencias musicales hay pasajes que miran hacia la música clásica, e incluso de un cierto folclore no imaginado. En otros cambia hacia los terrenos de la vanguardia jazzística y la improvisación. Sin tener como objetivo mantener un ritmo marcado, pero sin rehuirde las melodías, es sumamente interesante el escucharle e nun diálogo continuado consigo mismo.

El saxofonista Tim Berne ya nos ha dado una gran alegría a los aficionados este año 2011 con la publicación de Insommia. Una grabación de 1997 inédita hasta el momento en la que a su formación Bloodcount (Chris Speed, Michael Formanek y Jim Black), se incorporaban el trompetista Baikida Carroll, el guitarrista Marc Ducret, el violinistaDominique Pifarelly y el chelista Erik Friedlander. La grabación incluía los largos “Open, Coma” y el inédito “The Proposal”. Representantes de las mejores grabaciones de TimBerne de la época, resulta un enigma el motivo por el que dicha grabación ha estado durmiendo el sueño de los justos durante más de una década. Especialmente, si se tiene encuenta que Tim Berne ha mantenido en activo su discográfica Screwgun Records con la que ha documentado magníficamente sus proyectos, y sobre todo porque se erige como una obra en absoluto menor entre las que dan cuenta de suforma de entender el jazz. El CD es imprescindible para los seguidores del saxofonista y compositor.

Old and Unwise es un dúo de Tim Berne con el contrabajista francés Bruno Chevillon. Once improvisaciones en las que los dos músicos establecen un diálogo de igual a igual y en el que tienen la sabiduría de modelar su discurso para pasar por diferentes estadios de ánimo. Para ello no hay más que escuchar la cierta delicadeza y parsimonia de “high/low”, y compararla con el ritmo marcado de la magnífica “l’état d’incertidumbre”, la fiereza de “Au centre du corps” o el carácter casi barroco de “back up the truck”. Berne, que aquí únicamente participa con el saxo alto, muestra que se encuentra en un magnífico estado de forma, lo mismo quele sucede al contrabajista francés.

BassDrumBone es una formación de contrabajo (Mark Helias), trombón (Ray Anderson) y batería (Gerry Hemingway) que “únicamente” lleva en activo más de treinta años. Los tres músicos son unas primeras figuras en el jazzy la improvisación, aunque su discografía como trío no es muy abundante. Por eso la publicación de The Other Parade debería ser más que bien recibidas por los seguidores del gupo. Recientemente Gerry Hemingway comentaba que las formaciones en las que se siente más a gusto son improvisando libremente en dúo (en los últimos meses ha publicado más de media docena de grabaciones en ese formato), yen solitario. Sin embargo este trío es una formación en la que se leve muy cómodo. En la que a los tres músicos se les vemuy cómodos. Alejados de los terrenos de la improvisación libre y la creación espontánea, algo que se podría calificar como vanguardia, cada uno de los músicos aporta tres composiciones. En ellas no tienen reparo alguno en mirar al pasa-do con cariño y con respeto evocando la música de Nueva Orleans o echando mano del blues. Los tres son unos maestros de sus respectivos instrumentos y demuestran ser unos buenos compositores, regalándonos con unas obras contagiosas que hacen que el pie no pare de marcar el ritmo.

Ralph Alessi es un trompetista que de algún modo hapadecido el estar a la sombra de otras figuras como Dave Douglas a pesar de ser un magnífico instrumentista. En Wiry Strong no sólo lo demuestra sino que además se erige encompositor y líder de un quinteto de campanillas en el que participan el saxofonista Ravi Coltrane, el imprescindible contrabajista Drew Gress, el baterista Mark Ferber y el pianista Andy Milne. Su obra es un disco de post-bop engañoso, o quizás incluso grabado con muy malas intenciones. Hay composiciones con unas estructuras muy definidas, pero que permiten un enorme grado de libertad a los músicos la hora de expresar sus ideas. Esto es algo que no es nuevo en absoluto, pero que a veces se olvida a la hora de afrontarla creación musical. Otro elemento que llama la atención es que en setenta minutos se desgranan quince temas muy variados y deslumbrantes analizados uno a uno y en conjunto que permiten sospechar que en directo este proyecto puede ser toda una sorpresa para los oyentes desprevenidos.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (Clean Feed 212)
I think I get it. It’s a modernism that flows naturally out of the non-pretentious music-making of this chamber quartet, namely Daniel Levin, leader and cello, Nate Wooley, trumpet, Matt Moran on vibes, and Peter Bitenc on doublebass.

This is music that may have a walking bass underneath it now and again, but the give and take is of an unforced avant sort. There are compositional elements but the main thrust is the improvisational space, individually and collectively, between the distinctive musicians, each with his own way. Now I wont say this is destined to get lots of airplay on those middle-of-the-road jazz radio stations, which at any rate seem to be diminishing in number again in part thanks to the economics we are I hope seeing enter a more solid phase, though just the beginnings.

I learned long ago that if you want to hear music of a certain sort, in many ways you have to become your own virtual radio station. Commercial free, target market one, two, or maybe three listeners at a time, no income, no expenses (well, now just a minute, life has expenses at all times, so cancel that last thought). Support jazz radio of course. But start thinking for yourself too.

My point is only that to cultivate tastes in certain adventurous music, like Mr. Levin’s quartet date here discussed, you have to follow your nose and take advice where you can find it.

So here’s my advice: Organic Modernism is a very serious set of music, where a very seriously developed set of new musicians create something of their own from the ether, as it were.

This is pretty abstract fare. You must listen closely to get an understanding. It shows that Mr. Levin is a cello principal in the free-er echelons of jazz, that Matt Moran is somebody to take seriously, and Nate Wolley–he’s carved a reputation that this recording does nothing to take away from. He sounds good. Peter Bitenc may not be a name on everybody’s lips right now but he fits in well and does nice work.

This is not an album that is going to set the world on its ear. It’s very good and very sophisticated fare though. Recommended.
http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com/

CKCU FM review by Bernard Stepien

Ivo Perelman / Torbjörn Zetterberg / Daniel Levin – Soulstorm (CF 184)
Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman moved from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Boston in 1981 to study at the Berkley School of Music. Since then, he has been performing and recording both in the US and Europe, namely with pianist Paul Bley and Matthew Shipp. He is known for extreme projects such as his Blue Monk Variations, 1996 where he made a CD exclusively playing Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk in a solo format. Tonight, we will play his Clean Feed double CD, Soulstorm, that has yet another peculiarity, the band. Pedro Costa, producer of Clean Feed offered Perelman to be recorded, but Perelman after accepting the offer told Pedro Costa to find the sidemen. On top of the fact that this project has been achieved with a band that never played together before, the choice of instruments is also out of the ordinary and did not deter Perelman from further engaging. Bass, Torbjörn Zetterberg and Cello, Daniel Levin perfectly blends in with the low register by definition of the tenor. The result is stunning. The conclusion: who needs drums in Jazz? Also, that story is in sharp contrast with the traditional picture of too marketing oriented producers of major labels that are notorious for steering musicians off their holy missions.
http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/95/4318.html

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
Ce qui pouvait irriter sur le dernier CD (Bacalhau / Clean Feed)  du Daniel Levin Quartet, à savoir le rôle systématiquement rythmique octroyé à la contrebasse de Peter Bitenc, s’en trouve sensiblement modifié ici ; l’improvisation collective gagnant du terrain.

Sans toutefois déloger les compositions aux lignes (trop ?) claires du violoncelliste, les improvisations – souvent en duo – et déjà abordées auparavant (Live at Roulette / Clean Feed), apostrophent le crépuscule engourdi du précédent album. Ainsi, tel duel de cordes (Daniel Levin et Peter Bitenc in Lattice), tel reflet scintillant de vibraphone (Matt Moran in Kaleidoscope), telle transperçante trompette (Nate Wooley in Furniture As Sculpture), telle nervosité rebelle (le magnifique duo Levin-Wooley in Expert Set), embellissent et enrichissent une musique qui ne demandait, peut-être, que cela.
http://grisli.canalblog.com/

^JazzWrap review by Vern

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)

YOU NEED TO KNOW DANIEL LEVIN
Daniel Levin has been on the rise since his Don’t Go It Alone debut in 2003. And while there have been plenty before him that has set the groundwork for the cello as a major instrument in jazz, inlcuding: Eric Friedlander, Daniel Pezzotti, Hank Roberts, and David Darling among others, Daniel Levin is one artist who is quickly making the cello a prominent force in jazz composition.

With a presence that may be larger in Europe than in the states, those within jazz circles know what an amazing musician/composer he is. He has worked across the improvisational spectrum, with the likes of Ken Vandermark, Joe Morris, Andrew Cyrille, Anthony Braxton and many more. Levin brings a subtle adventurous beauty to this chamber setting on his latest, Organic Modernism (Clean Feed Records). His consist and always remarkable quartet of Wooley (trumpet), Moran (vibraphone) and Bitebc (bass) deliver an eloquent and colourful performance throughout the brilliant journey that is Organic Modernism.

“My Kind Of Poetry” is as touching as it is melodic and dense in a slow blues-like fashion. The interaction between Bitebc and Levin at times feels like one instrument. The piece continues builds slowly with the addition of Wooley and then Moran in a more laid back role on this piece. Then we finally arrive at what is an interesting and brief denouement as Levin and Bitebc briskly break in and bring the piece to its conclusion.

“Old School” begins with a haunting, swirling vibe started by Moran and Wooley and then intersects with Bitebc downward strumming and some intricate chord changes by Levin. It’s an exploratory piece with a great deal of depth. Levin uses the space between perfectly and he and Moran interweave back and forth in the mix. There’s a cool warmth to this meditative piece that gives you a realm glimpse of a quartet that has worked together for a very long time and knows how and when to fill the sound world they have created.

“Wild Kingdom” is a wonderful statement which Levin unveils a fierce opening while painting the outside borders for the group to follow. There’s improvisation here, especially from Wooley and Bitebc, but there is also a real sense of direction and structure that you soon grasp a follow with interest on how this end. That’s the excitement of the organic journey.

Organic Modernism delivers on the idea that the use of space, depth and sound can conjure some beautiful melodies. Organic Modernism also delivers the melody in unexpected structures, all the while, creating a pleasant listening experience for the audience. I hope for most people this isn’t your first experience with Daniel Levin but if it is it is a great one. Now go buy the rest of his works.
http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/2011/04/daniel-levins-modern-world.html