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The Alex Levin Trio: A Sunday Kind of Love

Don Phipps By

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There is a dinner jazz quality to A Sunday Kind of Love by the Alex Levin Trio. And even though there is no pretense of art here, the infectious happiness of the album would certainly destress anyone who has had a rough day. Pianist Levin composed five of the ten numbers on the album, and he is accompanied by the spry playing of bassist Phil Rowan and drummer Ben Cliness.

In addition to originals, the album covers standards. The title cut, "A Sunday Kind of Love," is a bluesy ballad slowed down, perfect for an intimate dance with that special someone. The 1950 Irving Berlin number, "The Best Thing for You (Is Me)," is given a lively reading. Levin sprinkles the keys with a light touch and his left hand harmonizes well with the right while Cliness has a small role in the action when he solos in brief spurts. Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is also up-tempo and delivered with verve. And humorously, on the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein number "I've Told Every Little Star," Levin quotes the theme song of the game show "Jeopardy."

The beauty of the album, however, lies with the originals. Levin's opening number "Sweets" is straight-ahead fun which bounces like one of those inflated balls that hovers over stadium fans at a baseball game . His "Jetsetter" has an upbeat Frank Sinatra kind of vibe. His "Blue's for Wynton Kelly" has hints of the theme to the TV show "The Odd Couple." On "At Least We're Together," Levin tastefully applies the pedal to carry the song. And on his "Strolling Through Yonkers," Rowan breaks from his walking bass lines to add a pleasant solo.

Levin plays with an assurance and confidence which suggests lots of rehearsal time. His attacks are precise, and his chords are both musically coherent and delivered with a high degree of accuracy. The arrangements feature a supportive rhythm section. Cliness stays with the brushes on most of the numbers—a kind of soft shoe rhythm -while Rowan walks the bass. Everything has a cool effect. Even the Richard Rodgers show tune "The Surrey with a Fringe on Top" from the musical Oklahoma is given a kind of loose swing.

Sweet, charming, bubbly, the Alex Levin Trio's A Sunday Kind of Love is a cozy set. One could certainly listen to it during pleasant conversation in a bar or at home, drinks in hand, fireplace in the background.

Track Listing

Sweets; A Sunday Kind of Love; The Jetsetters; The Surrey with a Fringe on Top; Blues for Wynton Kelley; At Least We’re Together; The Best Thing for You (Is Me); Strolling Through Yonkers; What Is This Thing Called Love?; I’ve Told Every Little Star.

Personnel

Alex Levin: piano; Phil Rowan: bass; Ben Cliness: drums and percussion.

Additional information

Title: A Sunday Kind of Love | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Alex Levin Music

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