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.

Seasoned players, Daisy leads his own band besides simultaneously proving the drum muscle for Winy City aggregations like the Vandermark 5, The Rempis Percussion Quartet, and The Engines while Burlington, Vt.-born Levin has developed log-term playing partnerships with unique stylists such as guitarist Joe Morris and trumpeter Nate Wooley.

Levin’s own guitar-like facility comes in handy on pieces such as “Paseo Boricua” and the title track. The former is completed by spectacular glissandi which run upwards until narrowing into bottleneck-like twangs. Earlier his jagged, sul ponticello stops suggest the sounds of two cellos as Daisy ripostes with bell pealing, snare rolls and hollow wood block reverberations. “The Flower And The Bear” mates jagged, stick-driven percussion that at times resembles Gamelan tones with Levin`s sul ponticello strokes that splinter into higher pitched slices until both instruments are perfectly positioned.

Probably the most spectacular display occurs in the concluding “Fairfield” however as polyrhythms from Daisy are introduced by wooden and metallic-sounding slaps and pumps. Levin’s alternating of juddering spiccato and lyrical glissandi incline the drummer’s hoof-beat-like rhythms towards a more restrained display until the cellist’s walking bass line completes the piece with decisive sound confluence.

Bass-drum teams ranging from Charles Mingus and Danny Richmond to Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen have demonstrated the viability of string-percussion duos. Levin and Daisy here demonstrate a profound subtlety to a similar notable meeting.

Tracks: Graystone; Paseo Boricua; The Flower and The Bear; Steel Flags; Fairfield

Personnel: Daniel Levin: cello; Tim Daisy: drums

—For New York City Jazz Record April 2012