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Ted Levine: Event #6

The most interestingly eclectic CD in this column comes from alto/soprano player Ted Levine. Levine’s Event #6 runs the gamut from screaming free-bop to wistful Ellingtonia, nodding along the way in the direction of jazz-rock and New Orleans street music. The tunes are all the leader’s except for one each by pianist Peter Madsen, guitarist Michael Musillami and Duke Ellington. Ellington’s lovely “Star-Crossed Lovers” is rendered with reverence by Madsen and the leader, whose tonal inflections and warm sound pay homage to the great Johnny Hodges. After the exposition of the melody, however, both players give the tune a contemporary treatment. Indeed, angular, skipping melodies and dissonant harmonies pervade the entire repertory, both compositions and improvisations. And the improvisers incorporate bop, free-bop, rock, blues or whatever else seems appropriate into their choruses, during which they sometimes seem free to go wherever their muses lead. Bassist Dave Shapiro and drummer Claire Arenius make vital contributions to the thick fabric of the music and help assure that it swings when it’s supposed to.

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