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Elliot Levine: Urban Grooves

On Urban Grooves (Tilley Records 58:48), keyboardist Elliot Levine displays an unusually sensitive, light-touch style of play which can sound ethereal and sensual in the right setting. The cleverly wrought, light urban mix of album opener “Bach-a-lism” shows off this style well, but other tracks pitting his feather-weight play against heavy-leaden R&B backdrops (“St. Croix,” “Urban Groove”) render his efforts dinky and indistinguishable. Levine fares better with a growlier, Hammond-like keyboard effect on the creeping “The Cat,” and a stripped down soul walk cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.” Levine’s choices on cover material varies as well-his ultralight soloing runs clean through Stevie Wonder’s great melody on “As,” and lingers on a dully literal “Always and Forever.” Levine shows plenty of talent-what he lacks is a clear direction to support it.

Originally Published