Tag Archives: Peter Bitenc

Culture Jazz review by Jean Buzelin

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
Apparemment, la musique s’appuierait sur les contrastes du genre “aérée/légère, profonde/réfléchie”. Or, elle les dépasse pour atteindre une dimension et une plénitude créatives auxquelles peu de prétendues musiques contemporaines accèdent. Loin de rechercher la modernité à tout prix à l’aide de ficelles grossières, de complications inutiles et de prétendues ruptures destinées à épater les gogos, hélas nombreux, elle ne rejette pas l’essence du jazz — donc le rythme et le swing — et sait faire fructifier un riche terreau. Lorsque le violoncelliste Daniel Levin fonde son quartette sans batterie, il y a une dizaine d’années (seul le contrebassiste a changé), il tire le meilleur parti de ses inspirations de jeunesse, en particulier les travaux d’Eric Dolphy avec Ron Carter (précisément au violoncelle), ou avec Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone) et Freddie Hubbard (trompette). On pensera également au quintette de Chico Hamilton, qui utilisait aussi le violoncelle et fit jouer Eric Dolphy. Tout est cohérent. Ce qui lui fournit une base solide pour former ce quartette original, et dont la durée d’existence lui a permis de développer et de faire évoluer sa musique. Leur a permis… devrait-on dire, car plus de la moitié des compositions ici présentées sont collectives. Dans une mise en espace très élaborée, trompette et vibraphone interviennent avec justesse et parcimonie, et permettent à la musique, un brin sophistiquée parfois, mais dont la finesse mélodique égale la richesse harmonique, de respirer. Non concrète, mais plutôt “visuelle”, graphique, spontanément architecturée, il s’agit bien là d’une musique résolument “organique et moderne”.

Signalons par ailleurs que Matt Moran joue dans le dernier disque de Rob Brown, chroniqué par ailleurs, et que ce dernier a enregistré à plusieurs reprises avec Daniel Levin. Ce qui n’a rien d’étonnant lorsqu’on se situe dans l’exigence…
Notons enfin que ce disque est publié par l’excellent label portugais Clean Feed.
http://culturejazz.fr/spip.php?article1728

The Wire review by Sturat Broomer

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
Daniel Levin first organized his quartet a decade ago and since then there have been very few changes: Nate Wooley and Peter Bitenc succeeding Dave Ballou and Joe Morris on trumpet and bass respectively. What remains the same, though, is Levin’s commitment to that distinctive instrumentation, matching trumpet and bass with his own cello and Matt Moran’s vibraphone, eschewing reeds and percussion for both a special clarity and an unusual mix of overtone patterns. The combination contributes to the spaciousness that the group possesses and also serves Levin’s particular sense of construction. Five of the 12 pieces here are Levin compositions, the others are attributed to the Levin quartet. There are significant overlaps in tonal language and methodology, but generally the compositions are more linear, “My Kind of Poetry” touching on the textures of early Third-Stream and “Audacity” suggesting the compositions of Eric Dolphy. The group “compositions” cover an inevitably broader palette, with particular interests in sound (e.g., Wooley’s eerie assemblage of noises on “Zero Gravity”) and more diverse modes of response. The music invites multiple modes of listening, ultimately echoing all the modes of listening and production going on in the quartet, whether it’s rooted in jazz, European modernism, or free improvisation; whether it’s linear, contrapuntal, or harmonic; whether emphasizing traditional tonal relations or exploring the distinctive overtone grain of the ensemble and its sub-groupings. This is consistently thought-provoking music, another arresting chapter in the Levin quartet’s distinctive body of work.

All About Jazz Italy review by Gigi Sabelli

Daniel Levin – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
Valutazione: 4 stelle

«La verità necessita sempre di essere costruita» dice lo psicanalista francese Michel Schneider, citato all’inizio delle note di copertina di questo bel disco e se, come si legge più avanti «la musica si colloca in quel territorio elusivo tra ciò che noi percepiamo come realtà e l’illusione» allora il lavoro di questo straordinario quartetto sembra aver colto la necessità di organizzare, di pensare e di giustificare ogni forma di libertà: anche la più dirompente.
In effetti, il quartetto (che solo apparentemente sembra evocare qualcosa di cameristico) ha una forza caratterizzante e sprigiona un’energia che risiede nella libertà totale e nella capacità di emanciparsi facilmente da ogni categoria, ma allo stesso tempo risponde ad un proprio ineluttabile rigore.

Qui si mantiene la forza del dialogo grazie a un’interazione tra i quattro strumenti che ha qualcosa di geometrico e di matematico (si ascolti per esempio “Old School” o “My Kind Of Poetry”) e in cui la libertà sembra il frutto di una consapevolezza profonda, per esempio nel walking di contrabbasso spezzato dalle linee di violoncello (in “Action Painting”) che se non fosse per l’unisono con la tromba potrebbero apparire del tutto estemporanee, oppure nello spigoloso incastro dell’improvvisazione tra i quattro strumenti che non prende mai il sopravvento, ma nasce come naturale sviluppo dinamico.

Alla base c’è certamente un grande affiatamento, visto che i quattro (con qualche piccolo cambio di formazione) suonano assieme dal 2002, ma all’origine di questo CD c’è anche l’idea di trovare una “terra di nessuno” tra pagina scritta e improvvisazione concepita, qui più che altrove, come composizione istantanea.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=6755

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/

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

Free Jazz reviews by Stef

Nate Wooley
The number of creative and free improv musicians who really have good promotion of their music is limited. Take Nate Wooley for instance, without a doubt one of the best trumpeters around, about whom information on his discography or performances is extremely hard to find. You can check Allmusic  and you will find no information, just three albums, labeled as “prog rock”, or  Artistdirect  mentions just one album with no information.Wooley had a website that advertises three albums, without any new information for the last six years! He now has a blog with very fragmented and infrequent information, to say the least.

Maybe that’s a good sign. It shows he’s busy working on his music rather than promoting himself, rightly thinking that his music is his best ambassador. But for fans like myself it makes it difficult to find what is available, because once you like his music, you want to hear more of it. Wooley has not only incredible trumpet technique and background (he was a student of Ron Miles), he is also very creative and audacious, while being a great team player too. With those qualities, it is no surprise that he is widely asked to perform and record. His recent output is nothing but prolific. Hence the three succinct reviews below, plus what I think is his most relevant discography, ranging from his most straight-forward first album to his very adventurous music with Mêlée.

Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
****½
In my previous review of the band’s “Live At Roulette”, I wrote ” The music flows organically, growing as it moves along, with instruments coming and going, like birds or bees passing by, coming and going, yet all taking part in the same unpredictable yet not unfamiliar scenery. Despite the apparent freedom, it all sounds very focused and coherent and it was possibly discussed before playing, or maybe not, and these four stellar musicians are just so good and so used to playing together, that this symbiosis of fragile and raw sounds might have been created spontaneously”.

I am not quite sure how to say it differently for this album : the music is moving without being sentimental. It has nothing of traditional music, yet it is drenched in familiar sounds that are organised differently, not around structure but around each other, growing organically, with subtle pulse. It can be sweet and bluesy (“My Kind Of Poetry”, “Old School”), it can also be adventurous and full of expressive outbursts (“Zero Gravity”, “Expert Set”) … and excellent throughout. The band is Daniel Levin on cello, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Matt Moran on vibes and Peter Bitenc on bass.

Nate Wooley Quintet- (Put Your) Hands Together (CF 218 )
****
For the first time in many years, Nate Wooley releases an album with composed music, with an actual band, and with music that is more accessible than any of the records made under his leadership. The band is Josh Stinton on bass clarinet, Matt Moran on vibes, Eivind Opsvik on bass and Harris Eisenstadt on drums …. indeed the musicians who play regularly together in each other’s bands and with equal success.

In stark contrast of some of his previous albums, Wooley’s trumpet tone is voiced, deeply sensitive but within the same phrase he can switch it into screeching whispers. The compositions integrate jazz history, but then in a reverend and playful way, gently giving new dynamics and dimensions to the familiar forms, lifting them up, dusting them off, refreshing them with new power and creative angles.

The end result is a carefully crafted, fun album, with moments of playfulness (“Elsa”), deep sentiments (“Hazel”), compositional complexity (“Ethyl”) or all in one (“Hands Together”). The most beautiful piece is “Shanda Lea” (Wooley’s wife?), opening the album with solo trumpet, repeated halfway the record in duet with Stinton, then again as solo trumpet to end the album. On tracks like “Erna” you can hear the warm voice of Ron Miles seep through, but unlike Miles, Wooley adds some odd raw edges and in doing so also more depth in the delivery.

In short, a heart-warming and inventive album, show-casing a fantastic musician and an artist in full development. No need to praise the rest of the band: you know them already: they’re among the best you can get these days, and to Wooley’s credit, he leaves them lots of space.
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/