Daniel Levin Quartet – Organic Modernism (Clean Feed 212)
I think I get it. It’s a modernism that flows naturally out of the non-pretentious music-making of this chamber quartet, namely Daniel Levin, leader and cello, Nate Wooley, trumpet, Matt Moran on vibes, and Peter Bitenc on doublebass.
This is music that may have a walking bass underneath it now and again, but the give and take is of an unforced avant sort. There are compositional elements but the main thrust is the improvisational space, individually and collectively, between the distinctive musicians, each with his own way. Now I wont say this is destined to get lots of airplay on those middle-of-the-road jazz radio stations, which at any rate seem to be diminishing in number again in part thanks to the economics we are I hope seeing enter a more solid phase, though just the beginnings.
I learned long ago that if you want to hear music of a certain sort, in many ways you have to become your own virtual radio station. Commercial free, target market one, two, or maybe three listeners at a time, no income, no expenses (well, now just a minute, life has expenses at all times, so cancel that last thought). Support jazz radio of course. But start thinking for yourself too.
My point is only that to cultivate tastes in certain adventurous music, like Mr. Levin’s quartet date here discussed, you have to follow your nose and take advice where you can find it.
So here’s my advice: Organic Modernism is a very serious set of music, where a very seriously developed set of new musicians create something of their own from the ether, as it were.
This is pretty abstract fare. You must listen closely to get an understanding. It shows that Mr. Levin is a cello principal in the free-er echelons of jazz, that Matt Moran is somebody to take seriously, and Nate Wolley–he’s carved a reputation that this recording does nothing to take away from. He sounds good. Peter Bitenc may not be a name on everybody’s lips right now but he fits in well and does nice work.
This is not an album that is going to set the world on its ear. It’s very good and very sophisticated fare though. Recommended.