Nick Levinovsky

Kind of Red

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Although the play list seems to be made up of individual compositions, they are, in fact, all part of a suite that depicts various aspects of composer/pianist Nick Levinovsky's life experiences. Regrettably, in his liner notes, Levinovsky is vague about what these experiences might be. But he is an émigré from the former Soviet Union and clearly his music reflects life there and the efforts he made to get to the United States. All the music on this CD is Levinovsky's except for Chick Corea's "Blues for Liebestraum," included to commemorate the time the two spent with each other in Moscow. The intent of the first movement is the clearest of any in the suite. "Kind of Red" musically describes hard times in the former U.S.S.R, still in the throes of persecutions, of gulags, and of other physical and mental deprivations. The piano creates a sense of extreme agitation that Conrad Herwig's trombone tries to modify with a calmer tone. However, whatever position the piano was pushing wins out and Herwig's trombone becomes even more upset than Levinovsky's piano. "It Was Then" describes calmer times, either because things were getting better in Russia or there was a feeling of resignation, a greater acceptance of the situation. Kathy Jenkins' wordless vocalizing adds an aura of haunting melancholy to this performance. And on it goes, with each part of the suite showing somewhat greater optimism and indications of better times. By the time you get to "Tale" things are much brighter. This movement may characterize Levinovsky's move to Moscow where he set up a popular jazz group after the political ice was broken and jazz was rescued from oblivion and the underground. There is a decidedly jazzier ambience about this movement than anything heard up to that point. Although titled "Land of Oblivion," it reflects a continuation of the optimism shown than in the previous movements, especially in the bright trumpet of Alex Sipiagin. "Blues for Liebestraum" is not sad, down-in-the-mouth blues, but it is downright celebratory. Kind of Red is an interesting jazz suite and the album is recommended.

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