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Artists do not evolve in a vacuum. Collectively, they assimilate all they have learned and heard into a new creative paradigm that they call their own. A durable respect for the past characterizes the trio art of pianist Alex Levin. Listening to his collection New York Portraits, the spirits of pianists long gone are present in that fecund humus existing between the notes of Levin's treatments of original and standard compositions alike.
Levin's treatment of Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You" is likewise populated by this spirit. The Vince Guaraldi opening gives way to a Red Garland block chord interior. Bates solos and Levin enters solo sideways like Erroll Garner, quoting Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-n-ing." Drummer Brian Floody provides a pronounced Philly Joe Jones rim-shot beat that recalls those great Garland trios with Jones and Paul Chambers. Levin does this all without slipping into mere imitation. He commands all of these styles and make them his own.
Personnel: Alex Levin: piano; Michael Bates: bass; Brian Floody: drums.
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.