Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bill Holman Interview by Monk Rowe - 2/13/1999 - Los Angeles, CA

Sonny Greer by Whitney Balliett

© -Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

LAWRENCE BROWN: When I joined the Ellington band in 1932, it soon became clear just how important Sonny was. He was almost as popular as Ellington. Not only did he have excellent musical instincts and natural ability as a player, he was very genial and served as contact man for Duke. Sonny wasn't a schooled musician. But he could pick up things very readily. He was so much a part of what we did; he fit perfectly.
Sonny got to know music and his instrument by playing and being out there performing and absorbing what was happening around him. Adept as a rhythm man and as a colorist. Sonny also was a great "flash," an incredible showman. He had one of the most lavish drum sets in the world. Many drummers and other musicians came to see and hear Sonny because of his splendid equipment.

MERCER ELLINGTON: Sonny knew what audiences liked. He was one of the few people from whom Ellington readily took advice. A great reactor to material, he needed only a skeleton of an idea. With that as a base, he would contribute a great deal to the glory of a work. Sonny had a great ear and unusual reflexes. Ellington often referred to him as the real leader of the band. On the ground floor when jazz was being put together, Sonny was there to witness its development and be a key part of it.

BURT KORALL, author of Drummin’ Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz, The Swing Years Most important, no one played with such a sense of relevance in the Ellington band. His recordings with the Ellington orchestra and with small groups out of the organization make the point for him.
Listen to "Cotton Tail" (Victor, 1940), "Main Stem" (Victor, 1942), and "Jumpin" Punkins" (Victor, 1941) with the Ellington Orchestra. Also recommended are "Chasin’ Chippies" (Vocalion, 1938) and "Downtown Uproar" (Variety, 1937)—both with Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters. These records reveal Greer's capacity to respond buoyantly and creatively to his colleagues, to swing, and to give the musicians and the music what they needed.
An imposing artist, someone to be seen and heard, Sonny Greer lived up to the description given to him by Jo Jones: he was indeed "Mr. Empire State Building."

It’s been awhile since we’ve put up something new by Whitney Balliett, the highly regarded writer whose essays about Jazz featured regularly in The New Yorker magazine for many years.  In order to rectify this oversight, here’s his article about Sonny Greer – Duke Ellington’s premier drummer for over 30 years – from Whitney’s anthology, Dinosaurs in the Morning: 41 Pieces on Jazz [Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1962].

© -Whitney Balliett, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“AT WORK, most modern jazz musicians appear to be suffering from shock. They adopt blank, mask like faces, stand rigidly still, and rarely speak to one another, let alone the audience. The only proof they are not hallucinations is the sound that comes from their instruments, and even this isn't always conclusive. Twenty years ago jazz musicians usually mirrored every emotion they were undergoing. Drummers, in particular, went further by adding the icing of guileless showmanship. They twirled their sticks or tossed them into the air, generally in time to the music, smiled expansively or grimaced (Kansas Fields always looked on the verge of tears), snapped their heads about militaristically, and manipulated the wire brushes like skilled house painters. The three consummate showmen-drummers were Sidney Catlett, Jo Jones, and Sonny Greer. (Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich were showoffs.) Now that Catlett is dead and Greer in partial obscurity, only Jones remains consistently on view. A week ago, however, Greer, who is sixty, appeared in full bloom at a Duke Ellington Society concert given in the Carnegie Recital Hall.

Greer quit Ellington in 1951, after thirty-odd years—a departure that has left a permanent gap in the band. A flattish, dapper man with a thin, tongue-in-cheek face and a patent-leather air, Greer epitomized the easy elegance of the Ellington band.

He was generally enthroned slightly above and to the rear of his colleagues, amid a resplendent array of equipment that included a couple of timpani, chimes, and a J. Arthur Rank gong. For all his outward grace and polish, though, Greer's style was and is strictly homemade. He is only a fair technician (his time is uneven, sometimes he is overbearing, and he misses strokes) and he has never been much of a soloist. Indeed, he often gives the impression that he is testing rather than playing his drums. He moves ceaselessly back and forth between his cymbals, sampling their centers, drops in sudden experimental offbeats on the cowbell (an unfortunately outmoded bit of drum paraphernalia), rustles his high-hat cymbals ominously and then clamps them shut with a whussht, inserts crescendo snare-drum rolls, sounds jumbo beats on his bass drum or settles into steady lackadaisical after beats on the snare rims. Greer's showmanship accents all this. A mock-serious look will dissolve into a broad smile, a wide-eyed expression into a sleepy one. An eyes-right-or-left head motion punctuates every number. After twirling a stick faster than a propeller, he may rear back in amazement at his prowess. Greer is sound and motion in miraculous counterpoint.

With Greer were Clark Terry on trumpet and flugelhorn, Hilton Jefferson, Wendell Marshall, and a ringer, Jimmy Jones, on piano. Two singers— Betty Roche and Ozzie Bailey—also appeared. Eight of the twenty numbers, most of them by Ellington and/or Billy Strayhorn, were taken up with vocals. Bailey was surprisingly attractive, in a thin, valentine way, while Miss Roche was calculated and tart. Aside from the four group numbers, Jefferson, Terry, and Jones each had two selections to themselves, and Greer had one. This was an up-tempo version of "Caravan," in which he started softly with his hands on the tom-toms, gradually increased the volume, picked up two sticks in his right hand, pitted this hand against his still empty left hand (much rattling and whapping), tucked his sticks nonchalantly under his right arm, returned to his hands, reduced his volume, and closed with a jarring bass-drum frump. During the rest of the afternoon, Greer ticked off all of his tricks — wire brushes on a large tom-tom behind Jones, mallet crescendos during the ensembles, spinning sticks, and casual, offbeat rim shots. In fact, Greer managed to convey the notion that he was still supporting the entire Ellington band – insouciance, white jackets, the Duke, and all.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

Portrait of Shorty Rogers

© -Steven Cerra. Copyright protected; all rights reserved.

As Ted Gioia explains in his seminal work on the subject of West Coast Jazz, Modern Jazz in California, 1945-1960:

“ … [Shorty’s] arrangements could swing without ostentation; his solos were executed with untroubled fluency; his compositions seemed to navigate the most difficult waters with a relaxed, comfortable flow that belied the often complex structures involved. Rogers's lifestyle, in its refusal to call attention to itself, followed a similar philosophy. While many of his colleagues on the West Coast found it easier to make headlines through their counterculture ways than through their music, Rogers had little to do with such excesses. He paid his dues and his monthly bills with equal equanimity. This was perhaps too cool. Rogers was easy to take for granted.

Rogers's visibility in jazz has been further hindered by his virtual retirement from performing situations since the early 1960s. …. Rogers recorded prolifically between 1951 and 1963, only to fade from the scene afterwards. …  Rogers [had not ]actually left the music world; … [he]simply applied … [his] skills elsewhere, in studio work or academic pursuits. But to the jazz community this was tantamount to retirement.

In reaction to Rogers's retreat into studio work, some jazz fans have been even less generous. They have viewed this change in careers as nothing short of treason, a betrayal of the serious music Rogers had once strived to create. But no matter how one interprets Rogers the musician, his lengthy absence from the jazz world has meant that his work, once widely known, is now largely unfamiliar to many jazz fans and critics.” [Emphasis, mine]

In order to help remedy this lack of familiarity and awareness about the work of the late Shorty Rogers , the editorial staff at JazzProfiles has plans to continue to highlight his music on these pages as well as re-posting previous features about him to the blog’s sidebar.

One of our all-time favorite recordings is Portrait of Shorty: Shorty Rogers and His Giants [RCA CD 07863 51561-2]. The eight tunes that make up the album were recorded in Los Angeles on July 15th and August 11th, 1957 by a stellar big band made up of SHORTY ROGERS, leader, arranger, trumpet and flugelhorn,

HERB GELLER, alto and tenor; BILL HOLMAN, tenor; RICHIE KAMUCA, tenor; JACK MONTROSE, tenor; PEPPER ADAMS, baritone




Woody Woodward, who for many years provided administrative and technical support to Richard Bock at his Pacific Jazz Label and who also authored the book Jazz Americana provided the following insert notes with its many cogent observations about Shorty’s style and significance as a musician, bandleader and composer-arranger.

“Except for a few good big jazz bands even now working their way from one town to the next, the last outpost for the big band arranger is the recording studios and the men who gather there to recapture, to feel again that satisfying normal urge to participate. Here the jazz musician and the arranger can have their cake and eat it — if their efforts are successful. But there's the rub. This unity, this exuberance is not so easily accomplished within the antiseptic confines of the recording studios. It takes a special breed.

Because the men are required to master the arrangements in a very short time, and often without rehearsals, musicians of an extremely high caliber must be chosen. Whatever else their attributes, they must be excellent readers. They must be jazz musicians of the first quarter (if the product is to be jazz), yet must be flexible enough to subvert their individuality in favor of creating an ensemble of uniform character. When the time for solos comes they must cast off this conformity and create. But most of all, they must be able to project their collective spirit with a single-minded feeling for time. In short, the band must "swing." It takes a special kind of man to handle all this. One of these men is Shorty Rogers.

After more than ten years as a major jazz trumpeter, Shorty Rogers would still rather create charts for large groups to navigate by than do almost anything else. No matter how busy he is in fulfilling his endless commitments, he is never imposed upon if asked to arrange — especially if it involves a big band. In connection with the project that produced this album, Rogers said: "I wanted to create a musical portrait of myself."

This would seem to present a rather presumptuous attitude — unless you have spoken to him, or perhaps been fortunate enough to have known him. For all the idolatry that has been heaped upon him, he is shy; for all the important business ventures he has been a party to, he is naive. Shorty Rogers is one of the most successful men ever to have been associated with jazz, yet possesses the demeanor of a small town Mr. Fixit. When he stated that he wanted to create a musical portrait of himself it was in the tone and manner of a man excusing himself from the table—no pronouncements, no dramatics. He simply expressed a sincere desire to produce an album that would, as much as possible, reflect his own musical visage.

The long and the short of it is that Shorty Rogers has succeeded here in producing that portrait — even if I have fallen short in my word picture.

The story of Shorty's rise to prominence has been told too often to bear retelling here. For a young man (thirty-two as of this writing) he has been around and in the limelight for a remarkably long time. Therefore, however well received and successful this album is bound to be, it should in all honesty be regarded simply as another signpost on the road that leads from back there to up ahead—both for Rogers and for big band jazz, I agree that it's a mighty exciting signpost, but years of listening to and absorbing jazz have dulled my prophetic tendencies, I would rather admit that this is a startlingly good example of big band jazz that will take its place alongside the startlingly good examples of the past, than suggest that this album represents a final achievement of some sort. Shorty Rogers still has much too much to say to have produced any final achievements — and so too has jazz.

WOODY WOODWARD, Author of Jazz Americana”

The following video features the Shorty Rogers Big Band performing his original composition Grand Slam with solos by Shorty on trumpet, Herb Geller on alto sax, Bill Holman on tenor sax, Bob Enevoldson on valve trombone, Lou Levy on piano and Monty Budwig on bass.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stan Levey – Straight-Ahead and Always Swinging

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“En fait, Stan a été influence par le jeu de Kenny Clarke sur la cymbal ride en accompagnement et par Max Roach pour les solos.”
- Georges Paczynski, Une Historie De La Batterie De Jazz, Vol. 2

“The art of jazz drumming has come a long way since the days of the bass drum player in the marching bands of ole New Orleans. Today we have come to expect a drummer to be an excellent technician, a well rounded percussionist, capable of improvising as well as any solo instrumentalist in any musical aggregation. It would take a very thick book to discuss the requirements of being a jazz drummer, and even then, it would be necessary to interpret the printed word through skins, sticks, cymbals, and mechanical contrivances in order to express yourself and your feeling for the music.

No doubt about it, drums and drummers are popular subjects; whether you're an avid jazz enthusiast or a bandleader, it is always interesting to hear and compare notes on the way different drummers play.”
-Howard Rumsey, Bassist and Jazz Club Operator

“You could set your watch to his time. It was one less thing for me to think about when I was playing.”
- Victor Feldman, Jazz pianist, vibraphonist and drummer

“I wish I’d had a really good teacher. There weren't too many around in those days. … There wasn't anyone who really could show me what it was all about.”
- Stan Levey

“Mechanical, my foot. You try playing his stuff and see how ‘mechanical’ it is.”

The late drummer, Stan Levey, is the fellow using the strong language [“foot” is substituted here for another part of the anatomy which was actually used by Stan in the quoted remark].

The context for Stan’s reply was his response to a statement that another drummer made about the playing of Max Roach to wit: “Oh, I don’t listen to Max much. He’s too mechanical.”

There is a reason why in his two volume Une Historie De La Batterie De Jazz, which won the 2000 Prix Charles Delauney, author Georges Paczynski follows his chapter on Max Roach with one on Stan Levey.

Stan adored Max.

Indeed, Paczynski subtitles his chapter on Stan :”Stan Levey le virtuose: à l'école de Max Roach.”

Stan was a gruff, no nonsense guy who, at one time, was a prize fighter. He left school at fourteen to make his way in the world, taught himself how to play drums, and did this well enough to be playing with Dizzy Gillespie in his hometown of Philadelphia at the age of sixteen.

Four years later, in 1945, he was working with Diz and Charlie Parker on 52nd Street along with Al Haig on piano and Ray Brown on bass.

Not a bad way to begin a career as a Jazz drummer before even reaching the age of twenty-one [21]!

The early 1940s was also about the time that Max Roach was coming up in the world of bebop and he and Stan were to become lifelong friends. As Howard Rumsey, Jazz bassist, who also was in charge of the music at the Lighthouse Café for many years, explains in his insert notes to Max and Stan’s Drummin’ The Blues:

“Ever since they first met on New York's famous 52nd Street in 1942, Max Roach and Stan Levey have felt intuitively that each was the other's personal preference. Their professional careers are closely paralleled, starting with almost four years on the "Street" with "Diz" and "Bird". In fact, Max was with Diz at the Onyx and Stan was across the street at the Spotlight with Bird when the modern period of jazz was officially born. Since then they have exchanged jobs many times with many great bands.”

Max would eventually recommend that Stan take his place with Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars at the famous 30 Pier Avenue Club in Hermosa Beach, CA and Stan stayed at the club from about 1955 to 1960.

Stan described his early years in the business this way to Gordon Jack in Fifties Jazz Talk, An Oral Perspective:

“I was completely self-taught because we couldn't afford a teacher, and that's why I play left-handed although I am right-handed; it just felt easier that way. I didn't learn to read really well until I joined Kenton's band in 1952, once again teaching myself. By the time I was doing studio work in the sixties and playing all the mallet instruments, I had become an accomplished reader. My first big influence was Chick Webb, who I saw with Ella when my father took me to the Earle Theater when I was about ten years old.” [p. 129]

And, about his first impressions of Max Roach’s drumming, Stan had this to say:

"The ferocity of the playing was new to me. I had never heard time split up like that. Max's playing had music within it. . . he changed the course of drumming."

I got to know Stan quite well during the last three years of his stint at The Lighthouse and I came to understand that he always had something of a chip on his shoulder about being self-taught.

Young drummers bugged him; they were always asking him technical questions about the instrument.

And because he couldn’t explain his answers in terminology or “drum speak,” he usually mumbled something and walked toward the back of the club.

What were you going to do, chase after him? The man was huge. He blocked out the sun.

Stan was never menacing or unkind in any way, he was just self-conscious about the fact that he didn’t have a studied background in the instrument.

Even though he was self-taught, Stan took the most difficult path to becoming a Jazz drummer.

By this I mean that he played everything open; he didn’t cheat or fudge. He didn’t press; didn’t finesse; didn’t adopt shortcuts.

Ironically, for someone who had never formally studied drums, he played them in a more “legit” way than most of the other Jazz drummers in the 1940s, 50s and 60s – many of whom were also self-taught.

To comprehend an open or “legit” sound, think of the crackling snare drums that almost sound like gunshots while listening to a Scottish Black Watch fife, bagpipe and drum corps or, most other drum and bugle corps.

Every drum stroke is sounded; nothing is muffled; nothing is pressed into the drums. Everything is struck. Art Blakey’s famous snare drum press roll would be unacceptable in such an environment.

To play in this manner, one’s hands need to be strong and they need to be fast.

Enter Stan Levey.

Enter Max Roach.

The following statement by Vernell Fournier speaks volume to the role that Max played in the development of modern Jazz drumming:

“What young drummers had been studying in challenging drum instruction book by Edward B. Straight and George Lawrence Stone began to make sense after we heard Max Roach. The great teachers laid out the raw materials. But we didn't know how to apply them — until we heard Max. When we got into his coordination, the way he used cymbals, the snare and bass drum, the answers to the puzzle began to fall into place.”

Although they came to their respective styles from different directions – Max had taken lessons - both approached drums the same way. Each relied on open strokes.

In Max’s case, because he had a sound grasp of the basic, drum rudiments and learned to cleverly combine them in a syncopated manner that particular fit the Bebop style of Jazz, his playing could be described as a “mechanical” in the sense of structured or fundamental.

This is especially the case when Max’s solo style is compared to that of other bebop and hard bop drummers such as Roy Haynes, Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones.

But Stan didn’t hear the loser and freer drumming of Blakey and Philly Joe when he was putting things together, he heard Max [and also Kenny Clarke, Sid Catlett, and Chick Webb].

And even though he didn’t know the technical names for them, he learned to play solos in a manner similar to Max’s “mechanical” or rudimental style.

I knew Stan to be a fiercely loyal person and a very competitive one.

When your hero and your friend is being “put down” or “disrespected,” isn’t it all the more reason to be defensive and perhaps curt with those implying such disapproval?

Stan knew that what Max was playing wasn’t easy to do. But to his everlasting credit, he broke it down and incorporated many elements of Roach’s approach into his own. And, he did it all by ear!

Stan didn’t like to solo. He loved to keep time. He referred to it as: “Doing my job back there.”

And “keep time” he did, with the best of them.

Louie Bellson once said: “Stan’s time is alive. It has a pulse that you can always feel.”

Ray Brown declared him to be – “A rock, and a magnificent one, at that.”

Ella Fitzgerald said: “He never strays and never gets in the way.”

Peggy Lee “loved the intensity [of his time-keeping].”

Here are a few more testimonials for those in the Jazz World who had the utmost respect for his musical ability and his professionalism:

Howard Rumsey, Leader of the Lighthouse All-Stars:” Stan Levey is living proof that if you want to do something, you can. I remember I needed a drummer in 1954 at the Lighthouse — the jazz club in Hermosa Beach, California — capable of replacing Max Roach. Stan had done a great job with Kenton and was ready to get off the road after two years. Max called him, and he accepted my offer.

Stan never came late — never was a disappointment in any way, He had the highest standards of performance of any drummer I've encountered. A lot of people in music who came to the club became familiar with him and his playing and were impressed. Many musicians and record people employed him.”

Burt Korall, author of Drummin’ Men, The Heartbeat of Jazz - The Bebop Years: "Levey was a central figure in the evolution of his instrument — an activist in a musical revolution that changed and enriched American music. A prime mover in many ways, the Philadelphian took his cue from visionaries of the drums — Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, and Shadow Wilson — and from such older key figures as Chick Webb, Jo Jones, Dave Tough, and Sid Catlett.

It was quite clear to Levey that the old ways were no longer feasible. By moving more and more deeply into the new music, by playing and associating with Gillespie and Parker, and particularly by listening to Max Roach, he came to realize what had to be done.

The music called for a more responsive, fleet manner of playing. Drumming based on a military approach to the instrument, emphasizing rudiments performed in a highly symmetrical manner, was not reasonable any longer. Time stated in an extremely straightforward, unbroken manner on the hi-hat, on the snare drum, and essentially on the bass drum suddenly seemed cumbersome and inappropriate. The music's design more than implied that breaking time also would work well and be helpful.

Levey worked hard and learned. His playing became increasingly live and relevant. He felt good to listeners and to his colleagues. He served the beat, and it served him.

His solos, like his ensemble playing, were relatively uncomplicated yet effective. Where Max Roach caught hold of you with his imaginative use of the instrument, Levey was more basic, offering pulsation, an undercurrent of rhythm and sound, notable for its undeniably positive feel. He made it possible for the players to be comfortable and to reach out and experiment. 52nd Street in Manhattan was the laboratory where the new music was emerging.”

Drummer Phil Brown; “Stan Levey was one of the originators — the first white drummer who could really play modern jazz. He had that fluid, relaxed, new kind of time. I loved his time, maybe even more than Max Roach's. A pivotal figure, he just sat down and played, and pleased the musicians. He didn't overplay. He influenced drummers all over the country. When I moved from New York to the West Coast in 1948, the young drummers out there were talking about Max and Stan. They were the guys who played and recorded with Diz and Bird.

Stan grasped the style. He learned quickly. When the music was being formulated in '44 and '45, there were very few white guys who really got into bop. In the beginning, it was terribly hard to learn what to do and how to do it.

An "in group" emerged. Al Haig was the white counterpart of the most influential modern pianist, Bud Powell. Stan and Max were interchangeable. Trumpeter Red Rodney was another young player who had the technical acumen and instinct for the new music. And they all worked with Diz and/or Bird.

Stan Levey was at the right place at the right time and knew how to use his talent.”

Drummer Irv Kluger: “Stan sounded sensational when I first heard him in the 1940s. The rhythm players at that time didn't know what to do with bebop. It was so verbalized and rapid. The music demanded technique and endurance. You had to be able to go on for twenty-five to thirty minutes, playing at those lightning tempos.

It wasn't the only adjustment that had to be made to the new music. But it certainly was a major one. The demands of bop drove a lot of people right out of the business because they felt they could never play it. Stan had no difficulty. He also played piano; I first heard him in a little jazz joint in Philly. He knew about form, the structure of songs, and was into harmony. All this certainly had a positive effect on his drumming.”

Trumpeter Red Rodney: “Like me, Stan was a hometown Philly guy. I looked up to him. He was an exceptional player — thrilling to he in front of on the bandstand. He always was very friendly with me — ready to help with something. And he wouldn’t hesitate to give me advise whether I asked for it or not.

He was the first one to explain the new music to me. I remember when Dizzy played "Lover Man," I was waiting for the pretty, Harry James-type tones. When I didn't hear them, I was a little disappointed. Stan promptly pointed out to me: ‘You have to listen harmonically. Don't listen for the vibrato.’ He was a good musician even back then when we both were babies.”

Vinnie Dean, alto sax: “When Stan first came on the Kenton band, he had to get used to the whole thing. He was really a small combo drummer. After a short while, he showed what he could do. He became very important to the music. A lot of drummers are all ego. They seem to say; "Look, man, here it is. You follow me!" Stan got right in there with everybody and brought something fresh to the music.

At first, he had some difficulty reading the charts. Some of them were hard to get through. But Kenton went along with that. He allowed Stan to develop, and he got better and better. But jam sessions were his thing. I remember going to many of them with him, after hours. Stan was very much in his element — free, loose, swinging.”

Bill Holman, tenor sax, composer-arranger: “It was a real eye-opener playing with Stan on the Kenton band. He was the first really great drummer I had ever worked with. For a while. he made it purely on his basic ability. Then he really got into it, and the result often was awe-inspiring. Such swing! He didn't get much help from us; the band was notorious for its bad time. But he moved right through it. He was incredibly strong on and off the stand.

When he makes up his mind about something — that's it. I remember one time we had to play for a couple of acts at a show someplace. The musical director came over to him and tried to hand him a whistle. He wanted him to blow it at a certain time during the show. Stan said: ‘Oh, no, I don't do that sort of thing!’ And that was that.”

In addition to timekeeping, another aspect of Jazz drumming that that Stan loved to do was keep time FAST!

Few could rival him, and this from a naturally right-handed guy who was playing an open, three stroke cymbal beat with his left hand!!

Some of the best recorded examples of Stan’s time-keeping speed can be found on the Bebop, Wee [Allen’s Alley] and Lover Come Back to Me tracks on Dizzy Gillespie’s For Musicians Only album [Verve 837-435-2].

You can also hear Stan’s lighting swift left hand on the even faster version of Bebop that forms the audio track to the following video tribute to Stan with Victor Feldman on vibes and Scott LaFaro on bass which is taken from the November 10, 1958 broadcast of The Stars of Jazz television show.

There's also here a version of Bebop on The Arrival of Victor Feldman This recording, vintage 1958, is expressive and uncompromising. The set proves how much can be accomplished if peers work together. There's a lot of love and respect implicit in the playing. It's like three members of a close family exchanging views on light and heavy matters. Levey is essentially quiet, bringing underlying strength and swing and subtlety to the music.