Recommended: Gonzalo Levin Octeto – “Gonzalo Levin Octeto”


Gonzalo Levin Octeto - "Gonzalo Levin Octeto"A terrifically strong debut from the Gonzalo Levin Octeto.  On his self-titled debut, saxophonist Levin has created an environment in which each musician is able to shine brightly as soloist and ensemble member alike.  There is a great sense of excitement each time a soloist rises up from the surface, gives voice to its thoughts, then descends back down to rejoin the group dynamic.  But the best moments are when the group dynamic rises up to the heights attained by the soloist to regain unity.  It’s an approach that keeps the ear on its toes and wondering where the next big motion will originate and in which direction will the next lively surge head.

Some album tracks have an eye on the present while others an eye on the past.  The opening melancholic tones of “Airun” and “Evolución” that coalesce with the larger octet sound fall squarely in the former category, whereas the abiding warmth of “Calma,” “Luz” and “Allegro, Vivace e Con Brio” echo a hard bop era even as the ensemble shifts in and out of a post-bop framework.

The interaction between all four saxes in the line-up is another strong point of the recording.  The way in which they intertwine melodic lines and then suddenly enter the same confluence of harmonies adds a gorgeous lightness and warmth to the ensemble’s big sound on tracks like “”Naomh Beagnait” and “Añoranzas Montevideanas.”  And then there’s a track like album finale “Elba,” which shows that slowing things down for a ballad does nothing to impede the strengths that mark this excellent debut.

A wonderful recording, start to finish.

Your album personnel:  Gonzalo Levin (tenor & soprano saxes, flute), Leonardo Torres (trumpet), Albert Comaleras (alto sax and flute), Miguel “Pintxo” Villar (tenor sax), Marcel·li Bayer (baritone sax), Adrian Ghiardo (piano), Oriol Roca (double bass) and Josema Martin (drums).

Released on Whatabout Music.

Jazz from the Barcelona scene.

Cool album cover, “Reidar goes to Valhalla,” by Mark Redden.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon MP3