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Album Review

Yosef Gutman Levitt: Upside Down Mountain

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Yosef Gutman Levitt: Upside Down Mountain
Yosef Gutman Levitt's acoustic bass guitar serves as the lead instrument on this album. The music he plays with his trio here is full of simple melodic beauty and draws from several folk traditions.

This work has a sparse, contemplative joy which bears kinship to the recordings of Ralph Towner. Levitt shows an eloquent command of his instrument, running down insistent folkish melodies alongside Omri Mor's sympathetic piano and Ofri Nehemya's basic drum rhythms on "Wedding Song" and "Family (Folk Vibe)." The sensual "Jericho" floats on an undulating trio groove with the piano seductively dipping underneath a spare bass melody and, on the spiritual "Before The Journey," Levitt quietly plucks single notes against gently noble piano and hushed cymbal swishes.

Levitt currently lives in Jerusalem but was born in South Africa, and also spent years trying to find his place in the New York City jazz scene. The influence of those other places also comes out in his music. "Joshua," a feature for Mor's graceful piano, is built on a rocking sway reminiscent of American gospel while "Hodu Lashem" has the type of bouncing South African folk rhythm found in similar music by Abdullah Ibrahim and Mongezi Feza. The interplay between Levitt's high-register bass and Mor's piano is infectiously joyful here.

It is tempting to wonder what ECM producer Manfred Eicher and his love of depth and echo might do with this music but the more upfront sound of this recording works fine, especially when capturing the glowing tones of Levitt's string plucking. The delicate trio drama of "Poltova" sounds particularly rich and full when the piano and bass dance over the melody together. There is a graceful and profound sweep to all of the music on this album. It sounds intimate, natural, and heartfelt. Yosef Gutman Levitt and his trio have produced a small gem of an album.

Track Listing

Wedding Song; Time with Abba; Before the Journey; Jericho; Family (Folk Vibe); The Warriors; Arise; Joshua; Poltova; Twelve Stones; The Great River; Hodu Lashem.

Personnel

Yosef Gutman Levitt: bass, acoustic; Omri Mor: piano; Ofri Nehemya: drums.

Album information

Title: Upside Down Mountain | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Self Produced


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