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The Dynamic Sound Patterns of the Rod Levitt Orchestra by Rod Levitt

There’s a lot of musicians out there who’ve played w/ darn near everyone yet never graduated to the Big Leagues of "name recognition" - never mind being a million-seller-type star, just instead having lots of jazz fans know who you are. Rod Levitt (b. 1929) is one such - he’s played w/ Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Evans and backed many vocalists but he’s just a footnote in jazz history. Which is - and you’ve no doubt seen this concept coming up Main St. - a darn shame, because in 1963 the Riverside label issued one of the few albums to ever be released under his name, and while no lost classic, it IS a rough gem. There are six originals here, and they reflect the influences of Eddie Sauter and Charles Mingus (sardonic, swinging, modern classically-tinged Third Stream rich with echoes of the blues and Tin Pan Alley) as well as the evocative orchestral palette of Duke Ellington (esp. the rich Dukal closer "His Master’s Voice"). Levitt’s tunes are tightly conceived, well-thought-out compositions that still include room for the soloists - some of whom, by the way, double/triple/etc. on other instruments, giving the ensemble passages lavishness worthy of the aforementioned Big Names. Many people might pass on this because the only "name" players here are Ronnie Bedford, John Beal and Rolf Ericson (one of The Duke’s men), and stature-wise they are hardly Richard Williams, Steve Swallow and Roy Brooks - but in this case "many people" would be mistaken, at least if they dig small group/big sounds jazz. [Take note, you Carla Bley fans.]

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Rod Levitt
  • CD Title: The Dynamic Sound Patterns of the Rod Levitt Orchestra
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Reissue Original Release: 1963
  • Record Label: Riverside OJC
  • Musicians: R. Levitt: trombone; Rolf Ericson: trumpet; Buzz Renn, George Marge, Gene Allen: reeds; Sy Johnson: piano; John Beal: bass; Ronnie Bedford: drums. Rec. NYC 7/63.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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