A Sunday Kind of Love
2019 / CD Baby
Review by Kathy Parsons
Let me say up-front (before anyone else does!) that I don’t consider myself an authority on jazz, but I listen to and review a lot of music from a variety of genres (mostly piano-based) and I know what I like. With that disclaimer out of the way, I will say without hesitation that I LOVE The Alex Levin Trio’s A Sunday Kind of Love!!! Why? Well, the music is smooth (without falling into the “smooth jazz” category), sometimes sultry and sometimes energetic, sounds effortless and yet it reveals more of itself each time you listen to it. A collection of ten original compositions and cover arrangements, this is feel-good music that is relaxing despite making your head bob and your toes tap. A Sunday Kind of Love is The Alex Levin Trio’s fifth album.
The Trio consists of Alex Levin on piano, Phil Rowan on bass, and Ben Cliness on drums and percussion. Referring to their music as “elegant New York City jazz piano,” the three musicians make music together seamlessly. The piano is usually in the lead on most tracks, but all three artists are obviously masters of their instruments with each bringing a unique and essential voice to the music.
Levin has been performing jazz in NYC for more than a decade. A Philadelphia native, he studied at The New School Jazz Program in the 90's before graduating from Brown University and moving to Berlin. He performed throughout Europe with his quartet before returning to New York City in 2001 and quickly established himself as an in-demand solo pianist and bandleader.
A Sunday Kind of Love begins with “Sweets,” a Levin original. Lively, energetic and rhythmically complex, all three musicians have a chance to shine in this one. The title tune goes back to the mid-1940’s and has been recorded by many artists. This version has a slow swing rhythm that is easy to get lost in - a favorite! “The Jetsetters” is a second Levin original. Light and breezy, Cliness’ use of brushes on the drums takes the sound back to a simpler time several decades ago. Complex but very accessible, it’s another favorite. “Surrey With a Fringe On Top” was a surprise, but a very pleasant one! Slower that you usually hear it, the easy-going tempo and gentle swing are warm and infectious. “Blues for Wynton Kelly,” a slow minor-key blues piece with a strong groove, is Levin’s tribute to the American pianist who died in 1971 at the age of 40. Levin’s “At Least We’re Together” is a slow, sultry ballad propelled by the strong bass and brushes on the the snare drums. “Strolling Through Yonkers,” another Levin original, has a relaxed but purposeful feeling - like a brisk walk around a familiar neighborhood. Phil Rowan takes the lead in several sections with the piano in a more supporting role. The album closes with Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “I’ve Told Every Little Star” which features the surprise inclusion of part of the “Jeopardy” theme in the middle. Sure to bring a smile!
A Sunday Kind of Love is available on Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, CD Baby, ReverbNation.com and other streaming sites.. Very highly recommended!
October 21, 2019