Rod Levitt

The Dynamic Sound Patterns

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The octet that trombonist/arranger Rod Levitt leads on this 1963 session was billed as the Rod Levitt Orchestra, which is a definite misuse of the word "orchestra." An octet is not an orchestra; it's a medium-size unit or, as Phil Woods would say, "a little big band." But even though Dynamic Sound Patterns isn't an orchestral project in the true sense, Levitt still gives the band a very big, full sound. There are eight musicians onboard -- five horns and a rhythm section -- but Levitt gives the illusion that he is leading a larger outfit, which speaks well of his arranging and bandleading skills. If Levitt had wanted a smaller sound, he could have asked the musicians to play softly and made an octet sound more like a quintet -- in the '50s, many cool jazz sessions favored that type of approach. But cool obviously isn't what Levitt is going for on Dynamic Sound Patterns, which finds him leading a New York lineup that includes Rolf Ericson (trumpet), Buzz Renn (alto sax, clarinet), George Marge (tenor sax, clarinet, piccolo, English horn), Gene Allen (baritone sax, bass clarinet), Sy Johnson (piano), John Beal (bass), and Ronnie Bedford (drums). Most of these musicians aren't major names in the jazz world. Ericson is well known, but he's the exception instead of the rule -- Dynamic Sound Patterns can hardly be accused of having an all-star lineup. But that doesn't make these bop-oriented performances any less valid. This Riverside date (which was reissued on CD in 2003) tends to be on the cerebral side, and much of the material has a Thelonious Monk-influenced angularity. Dynamic Sound Patterns didn't make Levitt a huge name in the jazz world; nonetheless, this album is an enjoyable demonstration of his skills as both soloist and an arranger/bandleader.

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