295

Alex Levin: New York Portraits

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Alex Levin: New York Portraits New York-based pianist Alex Levin borrows standards from the jazz-rich era of the 1940s,' 50s and '60s, and includes a couple of originals for New York Portraits, his third album as leader. Along with bassist Michael Bates (leader of the Outside Sources ensemble) and drummer Brian Floody, the trio lays down a relaxed shuffle of rhythm-based music, lending superb interpretations to some time-honored classics. Influenced by the music of Ahmad Jamal, who the pianist met while pursuing studies at The New School's Jazz Program, Levin pays also homage to pianists Bill Evans and Red Garland, among others, on this session.

Enchanted by its rich musical history and vibrant jazz scene, the city of New York provides the primary inspiration for Levin's music, the pianist explaining, "New York Portraits is like a big painting of New York." Like an artist with a vision, Levin serves up a palette of beautiful music; brush strokes to the canvas of a musical masterpiece. A gifted pianist, with crisp right-hand lines during brisker solo moments, Levin is neither a showy or selfish player, but is firm and commanding instead.

Levin's portrait begins with a mid-tempo rendition of the Rogers and Hart standard "My Heart Stood Still," followed by the album's highlight : Anthony Newly's staple, "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)." One of the most identifiable standards from The Great American Songbook is Irving Berlin's "Cheek To Cheek"; here, Levin's trio delivers it with such authoritative romp and swing that it's difficult to imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers keeping up with the tempo. On the immortal "I Remember You," the trio settles into a tasteful groove, with Floody providing the steady drum beats with deliberate stick work, as the pianist paints the melody.

Bates introduces the melancholy "Last Train to Brooklyn," and provides the lead on this original soft ballad, while the other Levin chart, "Blues for Charley," reveals a touch of the Jamal influence. With the drummer on brushes and the pianist applying an equally light touch, the set closes with a warm and humbling version of that traditional jazz standard "Body and Soul," applying the final touches to a portrait of elegant light jazz.


Track Listing: My Heart Stood Still; Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me); Last Train to Brooklyn; Cheek to Cheek; I Remember You; I Love You Porgy; Isn't it a Pity?; Like Someone in Love; Blues for Charley; Body and Soul.

Personnel: Alex Levin: piano; Michael Bates: bass; Brian Floody: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "OUTgoing" CD/LP/Track Review OUTgoing
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Groovin'" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin'
by Jeff Winbush
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5
by Doug Collette
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Reinvented" CD/LP/Track Review Reinvented
by Jim Olin
Published: February 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!