Reviews that mention Daniel Levin

December 1, 2015

Daniel Levin Quartet

Friction
Clean Feed CF 342 CD

Daniel Levin/Juan Pablo Carletti

Illusion of Truth

Outnow ONOR 18

Ripe for new experiments and contexts is New York cellist Daniel Levin as he demonstrates on these releases. Member in good standing of the city’s experimental music scene, the Burlington, Vt.-born cellist has been recording with his quartet since 2006, but is also available to be challenged by the likes of reedists Joe McPhee or Ivo Perelman in other contexts. His skills along with those Erik Friedlander and Fred Lonberg-Holm among others, have helped carve out a burgeoning role in jazz-improvised music for an instrument that until recently was treated as an oddball obsession for the few such as Fred Katz and Oscar Pettiford. MORE

December 1, 2015

Daniel Levin/Juan Pablo Carletti

Illusion of Truth
Outnow ONOR 18

Daniel Levin Quartet

Friction

Clean Feed CF 342 CD

Ripe for new experiments and contexts is New York cellist Daniel Levin as he demonstrates on these releases. Member in good standing of the city’s experimental music scene, the Burlington, Vt.-born cellist has been recording with his quartet since 2006, but is also available to be challenged by the likes of reedists Joe McPhee or Ivo Perelman in other contexts. His skills along with those Erik Friedlander and Fred Lonberg-Holm among others, have helped carve out a burgeoning role in jazz-improvised music for an instrument that until recently was treated as an oddball obsession for the few such as Fred Katz and Oscar Pettiford. MORE

January 8, 2014

Yoni Kretzmer 66 Boxes

Graceless
OutNow Records ONOR14

By Ken Waxman

Exploring new sonic territories, tenor saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer’s five compositions on Graceless are skeletal enough so that the improvisational garments hung on them by band members determine their silhouettes as much as the initial design. That leads to some provocative, free-form performances, especially as 66 Boxes includes stylists conversant with many currents of music.

Wild card here is Israeli-American guitarist Eyal Maoz, whose interpolations owe as much to rock and Middle-Eastern Jewish music as jazz. With elastic string strategies that can range from concentrated frails to bubbling purrs, Maoz frequently introduces contrasting motifs to the performances, pushing the lines in startling directions until one or more of the other players redirect the sequence to an appropriate conclusion. Kretzmer of course, has the experience of having worked with so-called downtown musicians in both Israel and NYC, while percussionist Andrew Drury and cellist Daniel Levin add skills honed in contemporary notated music as well as jazz. MORE

August 18, 2013

Gianni Mimmo-Daniel Levin

Turbulent Flow
Amirani Records AMRN 032/Teriyaki Records TRK 3

Udo Schindler/Uli Winter/Fredi Pröll

Schi.Va

Pilgrims of Sound No #

Harmonizing a reed instrument with a cello can be a dicey proposition since a similarity in timbres can often lead to sonic muddiness, especially when few other instruments are involved. Each of these ensembles has set out to overcome the problem in a unique fashion.

Take Schi.Va for instance. Veteran Munich-based reedist Udo Schindler, who also specializes in solo playing, helps expose a variety of textures by not only inviting Ulrichsberg, Austria-based cellist Uli Winter to participate in this four part-suite, but also welcomes contributions from percussionist Fredi Pröll, another Ulrichsberger. The drummer and cellist have been improvising together for many years two or three times a weeks. As the two halves of a single heartbeat, Schindler thus gets two improvisers who think as one, producing a sympathetic interface with which he can work. Schindler isn’t complacent however. He ups the improvisational ante by adding excursions on cornet to the mix, along with his prowess on his more familiar soprano saxophone and different clarinets. MORE

May 31, 2012

Adam Rudolph/Go: Organic Orchestra

The Sound of a Dream
Meta Records META 014

Paradoxically as his sonic canvas has enlarged and his palate of instrumental shading has become more numerous, percussionist/composer/conductor Adam Rudolph appears to have produced a less promising creation than last time out. Although there’s much to admire in The Sound of a Dream, an 18-part suite, interpreted by 48 [!] musicians, ironically it seems to lack the organic fortitude that made Both/And, his previous release, so exceptional.

By nearly tripling the number of participant, there appears to literally be too many tones, rhythms and textures being advanced by too many musicians too much of the time. Similarly by evidentially cleaving closer to orchestral conventions albeit with more improvisational choices, too many of the tracks lack an overriding motif to sunder them together. You’re left wanting more; not in anticipation but for completion. Interestingly, but troubling as well, Rudolph doesn’t play on the session MORE

April 16, 2012

Jason Kao Hwang/Spontaneous River

Symphony of Souls
Mulatta MUL 022

Chocolate fetishists often have such a strong attachment to the sweet that to secure their business restaurants will describe a cocoa-infused desert as Death by Chocolate. While those who love stringed instruments as much as others love chocolate will find much to savor on Symphony of Souls, one would hope that the expansive sound picture created by violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s conduction of his composition is appreciated in less thanotological terms. Maybe the most appropriate recasting of the title should be Depth of Strings. MORE

April 6, 2012

Daniel Levin & Tim Daisy

The Flower And The Bear
Relay Records 003

Challenging themselves with one of the most unusual duo structures, Brooklyn cellist Daniel Levin and Chicago drummer Tim Daisy improvise here with no additional musicians, electronic processing or studio overdubbing. The results while by definition sparse successfully expose a program of unparalleled rhythmic smarts and descriptive textures. Saving grace is that a skilful cellist like Levin can use his instrument both for soloing and back-up – often within seconds of one another – while the magnitude of Daisy’s percussion collection includes different sorts of noise makers and rhythmic amenders. MORE

January 5, 2012

Pete Robbins’s Unnamed Quartet

Live in Brooklyn
NotTwo MW 845-2

By Ken Waxman

Setting himself and his unnamed quartet a major challenge, alto saxophonist Pete Robbins recorded this program of completely improvised music at a Brooklyn bar a couple of years ago. While the end product is slightly unpolished, this CD demonstrates that the right combination of players and circumstances can invest cerebral and technical experiments with emotion and dexterity.

It helps that Andover, Mass.-native Robbins, who has been New York for about a decade performing with everyone from John Zorn to Melvin Sparks, surrounds himself with some of the city’s most accomplished younger players. Trumpeter Nate Wooley’s abilities have been equally stirring in minimalist chamber excursions as in free jazz settings. The same can be said for cellist Daniel Levin, who here utilizes both his instrument’s rhythm section and front-line identities. As he does elsewhere, drummer Jeff Davis provides the ballast for free-flowing soloing. MORE

November 25, 2011

Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures

Both/And
Meta Records META 013

After spending nearly four decades investigating the rhythmic and sonic inter-relations among sounds from different cultures, New York percussionist Adam Rudolph has moved past creating so-called World music. His aim, mostly realized with this CD and in live performances by his ensembles, is something more profound: individual music, which doesn’t distort the foundation sounds on which it’s based.

This may appear easier to do than it is. Most so-called World music presented to Westerners is an electrified variant, closely allied to Rock and Pop, with only the vocals left in native languages. Thankfully avoiding vocals, the Chicago-born drummer, composer and arranger instead studs his pieces with ethnic sounds which organically relate to one another. On top of this, brief solos with Jazz and improvised music backing are interleaved among other musical layers. Refining his vision, Rudolph adapts the idiosyncratic rhythms and time-signatures of South Asian, Middle-Eastern and African musics in this suite. Yet such is the unity of his vision – not to mention his arranging skills – that nowhere on Both/And does it appear as if any intonation or beat is shoehorned into another. MORE

July 2, 2011

Daniel Levin Quartet

Organic Modernism
Clean Feed CF 212 CD

Erik Friedlander

Fifty Miniatures for Improvising Quintet

Skipstone Records SR006

No longer an anomaly, the cello as part of an improvising ensemble is now as common as the presence of other so-called orchestral instruments in that context. Furthermore since modern cellists involved in Free Music are schooled in its unique history, rather than being doubling bassists, the breadth of the instrument’s colors, both pizzicato and arco, are more meaningfully adapted to these situations. MORE

November 1, 2010

Daniel Levin Quartet

Bacalhau
Clean Freed CF 195 CD

Tim Daisy Vox Arcana

Aerial Age

Allos Documents 004

Jean-Marc Foltz

To The Moon

Ayler Records AYLCD-112

Kathryn Ladano

Open

No Label

Extended Play: Chamber Improvisations

By Ken Waxman

Derided in the past as effete or derivative, chamber-style improvising has fascinated musicians at least since the 1920s, both on the jazz (Benny Goodman, Red Norvo) and classical (George Gershwin, Ferde Grofé) sides. However, as this group of CDs demonstrates, with contemporary musicians conversant with both strains of sound, the transitional awkwardness of the past has been replaced by inspired flexibility MORE

December 12, 2009

Daniel Levin Quartet

Live at Roulette
Clean Feed CF 147 CD

Nate Wooley

Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing

Porter PRCD-4022

One of the trumpeters who, over the past few years, have committed to lower-case improvisation, Brooklyn-based Nate Wooley has also subtly adapted his distinctive playing to different situations. As a matter of fact, listening to these noteworthy CDs, it may appear as if Wooley, who was born in the Pacific Northwest, has a separate Midwestern and East Cost persona.

That statement may be a bit louche however. That’s because the fragmented texture-gliding he exhibits with Chicagoans cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm – who may be the most-frequently recorded cellist in New music – and bassist Jason Roebke, who anchors a clutch of Windy City combos – is close to what the trumpeter brings to some New York groups. However as a charter member of cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet since 2001, he attentively tries to meld with the impressionistic and legato impulses from the cellist as Live at Roulette attests. The band is filled out by vibist Matt Moran, who also plays in drummer John Hollenbeck’s ensembles, and bassist Peter Bitenc. MORE

December 12, 2009

Nate Wooley

Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing
Porter PRCD-4022

Daniel Levin Quartet

Live at Roulette

Clean Feed CF 147 CD

One of the trumpeters who, over the past few years, have committed to lower-case improvisation, Brooklyn-based Nate Wooley has also subtly adapted his distinctive playing to different situations. As a matter of fact, listening to these noteworthy CDs, it may appear as if Wooley, who was born in the Pacific Northwest, has a separate Midwestern and East Cost persona.

That statement may be a bit louche however. That’s because the fragmented texture-gliding he exhibits with Chicagoans cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm – who may be the most-frequently recorded cellist in New music – and bassist Jason Roebke, who anchors a clutch of Windy City combos – is close to what the trumpeter brings to some New York groups. However as a charter member of cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet since 2001, he attentively tries to meld with the impressionistic and legato impulses from the cellist as Live at Roulette attests. The band is filled out by vibist Matt Moran, who also plays in drummer John Hollenbeck’s ensembles, and bassist Peter Bitenc. MORE

November 20, 2008

Daniel Levin Quartet

Blurry
hatOLOGY 653

Drummer-less chamber-improv without compromise, this CD is more lucid than Blurry. Cellist Daniel Levin, trumpeter Nate Wooley, vibraphonist Matt Moran and bassist Joe Morris clearly and resourcefully demonstrate how extended techniques can be interlaced with shaded pointillism to create a satisfying group effort.

Throughout the cellist’s multi-toned arches and spiccato interjects plus the trumpeter’s smeary growls and plunger excavations are as germane for the evolution of the eight tracks as the bassist’s stolid thumps and the vibist’s shimmering key bounces. Encompassing smooth transitions from one instrument’s contributions to another’s, these mostly Levin-composed lines, feature uncommon exchanges involving say a splintered chromatic aside from Wooley, supported by fundamental connective plucks from Morris. Frequently polyphonic, the tunes are melded and molded using note clusters that move them through quasi-romanticism, stark improvisation and luminescent vibrations. MORE

August 5, 2008

Joe Giardullo Open Ensemble

Red Morocco
Rogue Art ROG-0012

Highly orchestrated, multi-faceted and engrossing, Red Morocco is a breakthrough large-form suite composed by veteran reed player Joe Giardullo. It rationally illustrates how his notated ideas can be interpreted by a group of 14 American and Canadian improvisers.

Largely self-taught as a composer and instrumentalist, Giardullo’s interest in musical creation was fed by an appreciation for Stockhausen, Berio and Indian music, study of George Russell’s Lydian Theory of Tonal Organization; plus playing situations with Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Lester Lanin (!) Peg Leg Bates (!!) Pauline Oliveros and others. It reaches inventive fruition with this 10-part creation. MORE

October 17, 2006

Daniel Levin Quartet

Some Trees
Hatology 632

Near flawless chamber jazz, cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet inhabits eight unforced improvisations without ever turning effete or enervated.

Inspired soloing from all concerned – especially the leader, and trumpeter Nate Wooley – provides some of the session’s impetus, while the remainder comes from the powerful rhythmic thrust of Joe Morris’ bass and Matt Moran’s vibes. Morris – a dual threat, best-known as a guitarist – provides the ostinato underpinning for many tunes; while Moran, a member of the Claudia Quintet, sounds quivering key vibrations as often as accompanying wallops, especially when playing in unison with Morris. MORE

December 29, 2003

YVES ROBERT

In Touch
ECM 1787

DANIEL LEVIN QUARTET
Don’t Go It Alone
RITI CD009

Brass, percussion and cello are the points of symmetry between these sets of modern, improvised chamber music. Atmospheric IN TOUCH, helmed by veteran French trombonist Yves Robert, features his longtime associate cellist Vincent Courtois as well as drummer Cyril Atef. DON’T GO IT ALONE is an appropriate title for the debut release by young American cellist Daniel Levin, whose brass input comes from cornetist Dave Ballou. Vibraphonist Mat Moran adds subtle percussion, and the session is anchored by Joe Morris, who proves that his convincing guitar techniques can be transmitted to double bass playing. MORE