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The bold and sinewy musical conversation that takes place over the course of the hour-long Blurry is revealed over multiple listens as nothing short of superb. The third and latest disc from the Daniel Levin Quartet is no small achievement in its staggered pace, yet grounding ease that gradually envelops the listener.
The eight-song disc, recorded at Firehouse 12 Studio in New Haven, Connecticut, opens with Ornette Coleman's "Law Years as a hint of the warmth that emerges from the clamor. Nate Wooley bends his trumpet's tone to resemble a didgeridoo on "Improvisation II," followed by Matt Moran's propelling vibes, suggesting the direction of the conversation. Bassist Joe Morris and cellist/band namesake Levin join the conversation but never dominate, leaving the tension intact. The quartet is locked in on "209 Willard Street," as Levin emerges to take the spotlight. Levin weaves through "Cannery Row upon solid footing laid down by Morris and Moran.
It is from this halfway point forward that Levin really shines as performer and composer, writing five selections and sharing a co-writing credit with the entire quartet on "Improvisation II." Levin's mastery is especially evident on "Untitled," a moment of sweetness and pure beauty from the cellist. Even on Charlie Parker's "Relaxin' with Lee," the quartet fills in enough of the lines to genuflect, but leaves plenty of space to swim through. The elegiac "Sad Song gives way to the title track, which bookends the clawing and conflicting elements of the disc, leaving the conversation in a strangely rewarding, elliptical state.
Track Listing: Law Years; Improvisation II; 209 Willard Street; Cannery Row; Untitled; Relaxin' with Lee; Sad Song; Blurry.
Personnel: Daniel Levin: cello; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Matt Moran: vibraphone; Joe Morris: double bass.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.