All About Jazz-New York review by Lynn Horton


Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (CF 212)
Truly a record for a thinking person, Organic Modernism by cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet is thick with innuendo. Levin uses the sound of ‘modernism’, given birth to in the ‘50s, as the hub of the recording’s evolution. A definite rhythm and instrumentation defines modern jazz musically, but modernism also signified other cultural developments in art, architecture, design, science and literature, all to which this recording refers. Levin composed five of the pieces; he and his band of trumpeter Nate Wooley, vibist Matt Moran and bassist Peter Bitenc improvised the remaining seven. Levin is one of the outstanding cellists working inthe vanguard arena. His individual playing display intense isolated sonic instances, linked together with a dynamic, which does not necessarily pulsate, but upholds innovative means to create abstract configurations. This recording is structured like that; in the first cut, “Action Painting”, the whole band engages in stating the record’s sensibility. Slipping into 4/4 pizzicato occasionally, Bitenc highlights that recyclable modernistic texture. The vibes too have a resurging grip on modernist tendencies, but the album is intrinsically a stunning showcase for how jazz music has developed, can be interwoven into past tempos and melodic lines and still make listenable sense, as in “My Kind of Poetry”,“Old School” or “Audacity”. The musicians have the chance to blossom in duo settings: Moran with Bitenc in “Kaleidoscope”; Wooley with Bitenc in “Furniture as Sculpture”; Wooley with Levin on “Expert Set” or Levin with Bitenc, introducing “My Kind of Poetry”. As a foursome, these musicians interact with crystal line clarity and are responsible for and responsive to sparkling sound sensations. Ending the recording are cascades of diamond-like phrases, exhaled by Wooley’s breath and swept up with Levin’s staccato strokes.

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