Levit Trio, Rob - Uncertain Path

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Symbol System Records
Catalog Number: SSR 0401
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:14:00

The Rob Levit Trio are Rob Levit (naturally) on guitars, Amy Shook on bass and Frank Russo on drums and percussion. As it is Levit's name that identifies the trio, you'd expect that guitar would be at the forefront of this release... and you'd be right. Levit is an award winning composer who has received "numerous grants and awards including the 2000 Chamber Music America New Works: Creation and Presentation (Doris Duke Jazz Ensembles Project) Award, the Jazz Composers Alliance/Julius Hemphill Prize, and four consecutive Maryland State Arts Council Individual Arts Awards," according to his bio. "The Rob Levit Group [not the trio reviewed here] was nominated 'Best Jazz Act' by the Boston Phoenix. Subsequently, it was chosen as the opening act for Arturo Sandoval in the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, one of the most prestigious American jazz festivals." This trio is one of two projects released this year, the other Anatomy Of Ecstacy, a work that is "a radical departure from his jazz roots [that] explores the relationship between sound and the visual arts."

Now, at first you might think you are into for another easy listening, smooth jazz release based on the first two tracks, one of which is a cover of Sting's "Fields Of Gold." And in fact, much of the music could be found on just such a station, though this isn't smooth jazz by any means. Oh, it's played smoothly and with style, but not in a manner that the term "smooth" has come to signify. It's not bland or sticky sweet... And, in fact, this trio explores a broad range of jazz styles on Uncertain Path, including fusion, as on one of my favorite pieces, the playful "M-Dive". "M-Dive" has two different characters, going from a trad jazz feel to fusion in a seamless transition, even allowing a moment for Shook to be at the forefront. Levit's guitar screams, literally. Tasty wild stuff. Listen also to the explosive "Footprints," a cover of a Wayne Shorter piece... wow! And "Daily Grind Blues" is a bouncy, happy, cheerful tune.

Levit's a fabulous guitarist, and it is his guitar that sparkles at the center of things. Even if the style and sound and mood have that air of familiarity, the enthusiasm in this trio's playing make every thing seem fresh. Shook's tone throughout is deep and resonate, Russo's drumming crisp and taut, his percussion shimmery and shiny. All of which give the music a great deal of depth. Russo's percussion accents can often be set back in the mix, which gives the music space to move around in. Shook's bass fits in between and alongside Levit's soloing, finding the right place to be depending on the track.

Subtler pieces are "After You (For Elaine)," a gentle, reflective piece, that is sparse and open, Russo's percussion providing a shimmering wall of sound, like a summer rain storm or a waterfall, yet it is a subtle element. "Safe Returns (In Memoriam 9/11)" is another "softer" piece. Given the subject matter, you might expect something a maudlin or brooding, but this is not - it's positive, hopeful, it's looking skyward to the heavens, focusing on that something that lives on even after the body has gone. "Ballad #3" has a sweet, warm tone, as any good ballad should have. "The Undoing (For Jaya)" has at first a springtime, innocent, pastoral feel with Levit's guitar and Russo's drums at the forefont, but once Levit's guitar gets to really singing, it has a bluesy, twangy summertime feel.

The third cover is a delightful rendition of "Waiting In Vain," the Bob Marley piece.

The only thing uncertain about Uncertain Path is the title, as I'm quite certain this is a fabulous jazz release. Sure, I would have liked to hear them mix it up a bit more with more fusiony pieces, but that doesn't mean the ballads and softer pieces are any less stellar or interesting... just that I think they really cook on those fusion pieces and I'd like to hear more... I guess I'm saying 13 tracks is too short <lol>. Just one more would have balanced it out nicely... for me. But you know, that's not a flaw at all, because what you get with the 13 is some pretty terrific jazz.

Singularity (3:20) / Fields Of Gold (4:32) / Uncertain Path (5:44) / After You (For Elaine) (6:22) / M-Dive (3:57) / Safe Returns (In Memoriam 9/11) (4:48) / Sophia/Solace (8:09) / Daily Grind Blues (4:13) / Ballad #3 (5:10) / The Undoing (For Jaya) (3:21) / Moving Closer (4:41) / Waiting In Vain (3:58) / Footprints (6:00)

Rob Levit - guitars
Amy Shook - bass
Frank Russo - drums and percussion

Rob Levit - Singularity (1995)
Rob Levit - Afterimage (1997)
Rob Levit Group - East River View (1998)
Rob Levit - Silence (1999)
The Annapolis Jazz Trio - Snapshot (2000)
Rob Levit-Ben Kono - Shadowmusic (2000)
Rob Levit - Energy Fields (2000)
Rob Levit - Levitation (2000)
Rob Levit - Songs I Love (2001)
Rob Levit - Tree-O (2001)
Rob Levit-Nancy Stagnitta - Joy In My Life (2000)
Uncle Vito - Tao Of Vito (2001)
Rob Levit-Robin Jung - The Key (2002)
Rob Levit - Anatomy Of Ecstacy (2004)
Rob Levit Trio - Uncertain Path (2004)
Rob Levit - Touch The Spirit (2005)
Rob Levit - Motivate To Create Volume 1: Spiritual Creativity (2005) Levit/Susilo - Asmarandana (2007)
Rob Levit - Energy Fields (2008)
Rob Levit - Songs Of Healing/Hospice Of The Chesapeake (2008)
Rob Levit Group - Perceptual Depths (2008)

Genre: Jazz/Trad. Jazz

Origin US

Added: December 5th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.roblevit.com
Hits: 796
Language: english


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