Joel Futterman / Ike Levin Trio: Live at the Noe Valley Ministry (2003)
The three merge as one body in this environment, flowing swiftly down surging rushes of white water while deftly manning the vessel. Still, individual creativity surfaces vividly. Futterman synthesizes a highly refined directional sense with his innate ability to generate quality improvisations of depth and comprehensible logic. He worms his way deeply into the essence of the piano keys, spinning out extended sequences that rise in intensity and gradually recede in satisfying release. His oar is the navigational substance of the music; through his instinctive sonar system, he negotiates the rapids and steers the boat with subtle movements of intricate dimension.
Futterman is a multifaceted talent. He adeptly switches to Indian wooden flute to alter the mood, or he becomes vociferous in expelling brisk streams of energy through his curved soprano saxophone. These variations add enormously to the texture of the set, making the totality of this trio a coat of many musical colors.
As co-captain of this super craft, Levin takes the wheel to introduce demanding improvisations. Alternating between tenor and bass clarinet, he binds his freely constructed thought processes to the marrow of Futterman's gushing releases. Levin speaks authoritatively on tenor, although his output has soothing consistency and connectivity. Freeform phrases erupt convincingly from his horn, only to be calmed by ensuing gentle currents of melodiousness.
When Levin plays bass clarinet, he speaks in similarly commanding terms but with softened edges to add melodic substance to the freewheeling scenario. Challenging issues emerge when Levin and Futterman duel on tenor and soprano. The horns sing out joyously during these interlaced encounters.
The dimensions of this music are greatly enhanced by Kash Killion's input. Whether on cello or bass, arco or pizzicato, he builds strong undercurrents to keep the ship afloat. On 'Tune 4,' Killion inserts an additional component by speaking in Eastern terms through the sarangi, a traditional string instrument from India. Levin muses mystically on bass clarinet in concert with these exotic sounds while Futterman maintains a stanch posture.
As deduced by the song titles, the performance was instantly composed. The trio's music streams in a continuous flood of invention. While certain segments, like 'Track 6,' deliver short parcels of staccato interplay, the music always catches an ongoing wave, surging powerfully forward with grace and agility. These three musicians are in accord with all the erupting impulses, allowing stimulating music of weighty proportions to emerge.
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Track Listing: Track 1 (6:19) / Track 2 (15:59) / Track 3 (15:05) / Track 4 (13:59) / Track 5 (14:28) / Track 6 (10:33).
Personnel: Joel Futterman-piano, soprano saxophone, Indian wooden flute; Ike Levin-tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Kash Killion-cello, bass, serangi, voice. Recorded: August 9, 2002, San Francisco, CA.
Record Label: IML Music
Style: Modern Jazz