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Jed Levy : Gateway

New York tenor saxophonist Levy combines instrumental technique akin to John Coltrane and Michael Brecker with a cooler emotional delivery reminiscent of Rich Perry and a certain compositional obliqueness that recalls Wayne Shorter. He certainly knows all the ins and outs of harmony and the intricacies of rhythm. This album, a quartet session with pianist George Colligan, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Billy Drummond, includes seven Levy originals plus the standards “Lost April” and “How Am I to Know.” Drummond, given to aggressive (but never overbearing) interplay, often heats things up.

The title tune, with Levy’s high-register tenor clothed in Colligan’s piano chords, seems right for a contemplative winter afternoon. “Positivity” counters the ambivalence of the title track with warm, vigorous blowing. “Afterthought Blues” is a good-feeling, slugging blues groove. Levy plays “How Am I to Know” with bass and drums only, the group sound in the mood of Sonny Rollins’ memorable trio sessions.

Colligan’s playing most resembles Herbie Hancock-atmospheric chord voicings that open doors for his and Levy’s solo ruminations and flights. Okegwo’s beat has an engaging lift. Levy’s solos employ sequential motifs, alternate fingerings and personalized patterns. He never gets ruffled. This is an agreeable state-of-the-art, New York blowing session.

Originally Published