Alex Levin: A Reason for Being Alone (2007)
Levin is a smart and sensitive pianisthe's able to blend an accomplished technique with a sense of what works to tell a story. He understands the jazz vocabulary and also color and texture. He opens this, his second album, with "Blues for Thursday, a crowd-pleaser that, says the composer, was written with Art Blakey in mind. Both horns state the theme and weave together a smoking tapestry of down-home emotion. And then Levin changes course and offers up a delicate balladthe title tunethat is dark and quiet. "Her Solitary Wish suggests brooding emotion but its melancholy theme and the powerful playing of Dillard turn this into a grand statement of passion.
These tunes and all the playing have a little of everythingblues, bebop, bossa, ballads and, somehow more. It makes sense that Levin is an English teacher and in pursuit of a degree in literature. His writing and the way he creates the space for his players to speak and act suggest the workings of a master communicator.
Track Listing: Blues on Thursday; A Reason for Being Alone; Emma's Ennui; For Pete's Sake; Her Solitary Wish; Your Call; New Schooled; Polar Bear Waltz; Blues Through Stained Glass.
Personnel: Alex Levin: piano; Diallo House: bass; Taylor Davis: drums; Max Hacker: tenor saxophone (1,7); Chad Coe: guitar (3); Stcy Dillard: tenor saxophone (1,5); William Martina: cello (3,6).
Record Label: Apology records