KOO-KOO
(1031)

Dori Levine, voice
Michael Levy, piano

Four Stars. The music produced by New Artists Records doesn't take into account the demands of the market. The results are unusual CDs like the duet of singer Dori Levine and pianist Michael Levy. We're talking about free improvisations and two famous standards that Levine's voice transforms almost into contemporary pieces. Her hallucinated interpretations, above all, of the evergreen "Lover Man" catch the nature of this standard, a piece where it is surely difficult to say something new, but this duet succeeds with this intention around the piano with the diction so unique and so grounded in the Jazz tradition. On the other side, Dori Levine gives life to the text with her voice so profound to attract the attention on every syllable pronounced; exploring the deep meaning of the words to give them a new dimension to the listeners. Perhaps we can compare with the great Jeanne Lee, for example, the duet of this Afro-American singer with the pianist Ran Blake recorded in the 60's. The free improvisations of the duet have not much to do with academic character, they breathe Jazz, it's voices, it's notes, it's diction, it's smoky nights, a dialog in the free idiom that can insert two standards and can attract the listeners used only to mainstream or to creative music.

Vittorio Lo Conte for All About Jazz Italy. Translated by Giacomo Franci.



If sultriness were patentable, Levine would hold the patent. She vocalizes on a uniquely spontaneous program with pianist Levy with a moody, down-to-earth style that projects her voice as an improvising instrument in tandem with the piano. Yet she can also ooze out emotion as a torch singer, placing her in a dual attack role as a Jazz vocalist. Stoking the fire for Levine is Levy, who carries on a love affair with the keyboards with his mesmerizing development of the songs. Playing in fully improvised mode, Levy creates the heat of smoldering embers that places emphasis on the lower end consistent with Levine’s voicing. These two creative performers develop each selection through acute listening and interaction. You can hear each of them take fragments of the other’s notes and turn them around in a new variation on the theme. Levine approaches each song with the originality and inventiveness that marks the work of Jeanne Lee. She gets moody, pensive, or alternately highly excitable and injects a creative spirit into every note. Whether scatting in non-word phrases or melting steel with her sensual twist on lyrics, she comes off as an inventive artist. Similarly Levy exists in her same world, crafting deep-toned and weighty improvisations full of substance. He broods over a tune, reaching down into its bowels and emerging with lustrous gemstones. As a team, these two are captivating in their moodiness. They raise the level of Jazz vocal originality several notches and are definitely worth hearing.

Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine, August 1999


"The Duo delves deep into the throes of cerebral celebration ... with intriguing dialogues ..."

John Murph, Jazz Times, June 1999

 

MICHAEL LEVY AT GREENWICH HOUSE
(NA 1009)

"One of the most uniquely individual pianists currently abroad. This is very rich music. After listening to the disc repeatedly, each rehearing still yields up new barks and berries."

Alan Barbebuhr, Cadence

"Michael Levy reveals fresh perspectives on some jazz classics, virtually creating new identities for them in both form and feeling. The improvisational flow is allowed to cut new channels through these pieces, opening up byways and hidden crannies."

Lois Moody, Jazz News

 

ON THE SPOT
Michael Levy
(NA1024)

"Levy is a proficient and demanding improviser."

Jon Morgan, Cadence