Thursday, August 13, 2009

Daniel Levin's Cello and the New Chamber Jazz

There seems to be a revived presence of chamber jazz coming forward today. The music captured on Daniel Levin's Live at Roulette (Clean Feed) is a good example. For the club performance digitally preserved on this release, Daniel Levin plays a technically impeccable and artistically imaginative cello. Then there's Nate Wooley with interesting exploratory trumpet improvisations, Matt Moran providing harmonic and melodically enriched vibes and Peter Bitenc holding up the bottom end with idiomatically focused acoustic bass contributions.

We've seen Levin on the Swell trio release spoken of a few days ago, and Nate was an integral member of Swell's Magical Listening Hour (Cadence Jazz), covered earlier in this blog. We have a loosely integrated set of musicians around New York making this music today. There are others too numerous to mention; they all have in common a free improvisational, more or less pulseless and drummerless small-group orientation. But aside from that what is most interesting is that they have forged a musical language that falls somewhere between avant concert music and "traditional" free improv.

Again, the Levin Quartet's recording exemplifies the approach and does it with interesting results. Four-way group creation is the main thrust. Their inventive prowess and sensitive musical personalities make the results significant and memorable.

I might say that it would even be better with Steve Swell's trombone added, but that wouldn't be quite fair. As it is it is music you should try to get your ears wrapped around. You will be rewarded in the process, I think.

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