The Rob Levit Trio: Uncertain Path (2004)
Rob Levit is a talented Annapolis, Maryland based guitarist and composer. His trio recording Uncertain Path is a collection of ten original compositions and three arrangements of tunes by Sting, Bob Marley and Wayne Shorter.
Levit's compositions represent a varied cross section of styles and creative inventiveness that keeps the listener's ear hooked. The opening tune, "Singularity," is an angularly melodic 32-bar samba that prominently features both Levit and drummer Frank Russo. Another tune that draws attention is the title cut, "Uncertain Path." Opening with drums alone then bass, Levit creates an interesting melody that while is in unison with the bass and drums rhythmically; he is at contrapuntal odds with them melodically. The piece then settles into a half-time section with Levit soloing using an electronic sound that brings to mind John McLaughlin from the 1970s, before returning to an acoustic sound.
There are five beautiful original ballads on Uncertain Path. "After You (for Elaine)" demonstrates Levit's gift of melody as he seemingly caresses his guitar. "Safe Returns (In Memoriam 9/11)" has a sentimental James Taylor folk flavor to it, "Sofia/Solace" is lush-sounding three quarter time piece with a sophisticated insouciant sophistication that must be Sofia, whoever she is. In a very similar vein is "Ballad #3," another very sophisticated and lush-sounding piece. "The Undoing (for Jaya)" finds Levit performing on acoustic guitar and bringing a folkie type sound.
Other pieces that deserve mention are the arrangements of Sting's "Fields of Gold," Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain," and especially Wayne Shorter's "Footprints." In all cases the Rob Levit Trio creates excellent renditions of these pieces. In particular, Shorter's "Footprints," which closes the CD, really burns with rhythmic excitement. Levit's solo again brings to mind early 1970s fusion players and he demonstrates his abundance of soloing chops. In addition to Levit, the other two members of the trioAmy Shook on bass and Frank Russo on drums and percussionare very tasteful and musical players who work seemingly effortlessly together, complimenting each other's sounds in a delightful dance of music making.
Uncertain Path is certainly an enjoyable recording suitable for aspiring jazz guitarists and jazz aficionados in general.
Track Listing: Singularity, Fields of Gold, Uncertain Path, After You (for Elaine), M-Dive, Safe Returns (In Memoriam 9/11), Sophia/Solace, Daily Grind Blues, Ballad #3, The Undoing (for Jaya), Moving Closer, Waiting in Vain, Footprints
Personnel: Rob Levit (guitars), Amy Shook (bass), Frank Russo (drums and percussion)