Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daniel Levin Quartet's Fifth: Bacalhau

Chamber jazz is alive and well. Cellist Daniel Levin's Quartet embodies the new sensibilities to be heard and felt on multiple levels. That can be seen most particularly in their new fifth CD, Bachalhau (Clean Feed 195).

The quartet consists of Levin on cello, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Peter Bitenc on contrabass and Matt Moran on vibes. It's a sonorously well-wrought ensemble. Each instrument has its aural space (well recorded here live) and they blend in ways that give you a musical landscape that expands into the distance but is dotted with events that make the distance seem smaller, somehow.

The first two pieces show the vital contrasts the group can achieve. "Looken" has a post-bop-to-free orientation, with a strictly modern-jazz sounding head and wide ranging avant-before-and-beyond solos to a walking bass. "Duo Nate and Matt" gives you a more improv-oriented new music side as Matt bows his vibraphone keys and Nate sustains the grainy lowest registers of his trumpet.

The music on this fine CD continually traverses the territory between those two spectrum ends. And with the improvisatory talents of the quartet members always out front, they do it in ways that never seem contrived or tentative.

Levin-Wooley-Bitenc-Moran are making important music. It's well worth hearing.

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