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The Alex Levin Trio: A Reason for Being Alone

Dan McClenaghan By

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The title of this disc might suggest an inward-looking or melancholic listening experience; but the Alex Levin Trio, plus a couple of tenor saxophonists sitting in—Max Hacker and Stacy Dillard—blows the roof off on the opener, "Blues on Thursday." It's a bright, gregarious, Art Blakey-esque sound, the horns sparring like a couple of free-swinging welterweights, snapping off jabs and flurries in front of a zingy rhythm. Put another quarter in the jukebox!

This is a "with guests" disc—the trio is joined on two more numbers by each of the saxophonists; a guitarist sits in on one tune, and a cellist plays on two more—but the title cut, with just the core trio, is an inward-looking, contemplative tune, with a memorable melody and an optimistic feeling. On "Emma's Ennui," a subtle, samba-like number that floats beautifully, Levin and the trio are joined by cellist William Martina and guitarist Chad Coe.

All the compositions on A Reason for Being Alone are Alex Levin originals. He has a nice touch for penning upbeat mainstream jazz tunes with strong melodies, and for changing moods while still maintaining a continuity of feeling.

"Her Solitary Wish" shows some dark colors, with some very strong horn playing from Dillard, along with an inventive Levin piano solo. The drifting, sad-sounding tune "Your Call" features cellist Martina again, while "New Schooled," with Max Hacker sitting in and smoldering on tenor sax, kicks up the energy level a few notches.

A strong, engaging mainstream effort.

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 sax (1,7); Chad Coe: guitar (3); Stacy Dillard: tenor sax (1,5); William Martina: cello (3,6).

Title: A Reason For Being Alone | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Apology records


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