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Nick Levinovsky Big Band: Listen Up!

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The first American release by New York-based, Russian-born pianist and composer/arranger Nick Levinovsky, this program of six originals and two standards, a swinging “My Favorite Things” and the placid “Lazy Afternoon,” augurs well for the future of the leader’s new orchestra. Levinovsky has been in the States only since 1990, but prior to that he recorded six albums between 1979 and 1989 for Moscow’s Melodia label, in itself a healthy comment on the status of American-derived music in post-Cold War Russia. Boasting five trumpets, four trombones, five saxes/woodwinds, and three rhythm, the impression the band makes also benefits from the several spots accorded Kathy Jenkins, Levinovsky’s wife and a superb jazz singer in her own right. Featured soloists abound among the band’s personnel, and although none of them can yet be considered major new voices, all are well within the parameters of contemporary expectations. But perhaps it is best to say that the band functions most effectively as the orchestral voice through which Levinovsky the writer speaks.