Sunday, February 24, 2008

Daniel Levin - Blurry (Hatology, 2007) ****½

With "Blurry", the Daniel Levin Quartet brings an album of extreme aesthetic beauty, full of sadness, melancholy, and late evening slowness. The quartet consists of Levin on cello, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Matt Moran on vibes and Joe Morris on bass. As Art Lande writes in the liner notes of their previous album "Some Trees" : "... if the instruments that establish the rhythmic foundations - especially the drums - are removed, then each remaining instrument is free to vary the timing, spacing, and emphasis within its own phrasing". And that's a good description of the feel of the album - the music floats along in slow tempo, rarely with all four musicians playing together, but just rotating roles to add notes and sounds in support of the soloist of the moment. Chamber jazz, indeed. The album expands on the ideas of the previous record, and goes a step further in reducing structure and composition, giving more space to freedom of interaction and emotional expressiveness. Although the music is built around empty space and silence a lot, this is music with substance, dramatic power and musical adventure too. "Improvisation II", but especially the title track, which ends the album, lead to some raw free improvisation, full of anxiety and angst, adding a stark contrast with the intimacy of the other pieces, revealing the dark side underneath all the beauty. Highly recommended.

Listen to
Law Years
Improvisation II

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