All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

5

Nick Levinovsky: Special Opinion

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Legendary Russian pianist, composer/arranger Nick Levinovsky delivers a masterpiece of an album on Special Opinion superbly supported by friend, saxophonist Igor Butman and his Moscow Jazz Orchestra. The leader offers a non-traditional session of music presenting a taste of Funk, fusion, jazz-rock, a tinge of psychedelic and yes, even good old contemporary straight ahead stuff—all in one varied package of big band music. Though now based in New York, where he lives with wife, singer Kathy Jenkins, since 1983 Levinovsky has been a long-time member of Butman's various Russian big bands serving as the main arranger and pianist for his orchestras. As leader of his own groups, the pianist chose to record this project in New York with various special guests.

With a history of composing, arranging and performing main stream jazz for small ensembles as well as large orchestrations, Levinovsky desired to venture into new territory and does so here blending the sounds of a jazz orchestra with the stylistic approach of a rock band resulting in one exciting session of music. The ten originals start off with the title track where Mike Stern's electric guitar solos inject an element of the psychedelic on a primarily fusion-side beginning, only to shift dramatically on the following "Young Beauty (Here She Is)" that lands on a more contemporary setting with solo shots from Stern, Butman and the pianist.

One of the soft spots on the disc comes on the gorgeous "Loneliness" featuring sparkling solos from Butman and guest trumpeter Randy Brecker—definitely a highlight of the album. The duo join forces once again on the boisterous Funk-styled "Procession" with drummer Dave Weckl and the band providing the funky beats and rhythms. The band goes on another fusion romp on the adventurous "Exodus," then returns to a swinging progressive number on the gyrating "Falcon Hunt" showcasing another marvelous Butman saxophone joust.

The swing continues on the jazz-rock approach to "Chick's Picks" showcasing the leader on the keyboards and mellows out on the delicious "In This World" where Levinovsky is the main feature. The band and music calm down a bit on the romantic finale "Promised Sunlight" ending a wonderful session of music that ventures on the outer edge of the jazz stratosphere. Other special guests making the date are saxophonist Bill Evans, bassist Tom Kennedy and guitarist Mitch Stein.

An audacious big band album, Special Opinion is more than special, it is a testament to Nick Levinovsky's talents as a composer, arranger and musician. Levinovsky does a bang up job in melding influences of Funk and fusion into traditional jazz orchestrations to produce a swinging sound that packs a punch, now that's one Special Opinion worth hearing.

Track Listing: Special Opinion; Young Beauty (Here She Is); Loneliness; Uncle Joe; Exodus; Falcon Hunt; Chick's Picks; Procession; In This World; Promised Sunlight.

Personnel: Nick Levinovsky: keyboards; Randy Brecker: trumpet; Igor Butman: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bill Evans: tenor saxophone; Mike Stern: guitar; Mitch Stein: guitar; Tom Kennedy: bass; Dave Weckl: drums; Konstantin Safyanov: alto saxophone, flute; Ilya Morozov: alto saxophone, flute; Dmitry Mospan: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Alexander Dovgopoly: baritone saxophone, flute; Pavel Zhulin: lead trumpet; Denis Popov: trumpet; Alexander Berenson: trumpet; Alexander Sakharov: trumpet; Alevtina Polyakova: trombone; Oleg Borodin: trombone; Pavel Ovchinnikov: trombone; Nikolay Shevnin: bass trombone.

Title: Special Opinion | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Butman Music Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Special Opinion

Special Opinion

Butman Music Records
2014

buy
 

Kind of Red

NLO Records
2000

buy
 

Listen Up!

NLO Records
1999

buy

Related Articles

Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! CD/LP/Track Review
You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Autres Paysages CD/LP/Track Review
Autres Paysages
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Elvesang CD/LP/Track Review
Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Necessary Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Necessary Arrangements
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Beauty & Mystery" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty & Mystery
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 16, 2018
Read "Love Letters" CD/LP/Track Review Love Letters
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Christmas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "Numbers" CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "Kalamazoo" CD/LP/Track Review Kalamazoo
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "Common Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Common Ground
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2017