A Reason for Being Alone     (listen on itunes)

The Alex Levin Trio is a tribute to it predecessors, and a model of contemporary Jazz.  Alex Levin's graceful piano, journeyman Diallo House on the upright bass, mix with the stellar rhythm of Taylor Davis on the drums to produce the sort of jazz that would cause Monk, Carter and Blakey to stop and take notice.  Five tracks of this trio and the traffic gridlock you are stuck in will cease to be an irritation; your car will become a haven of jazz.
~Pat Benny, Southbound Beat Magazine

CNN Money has chosen Blues on Thursday for their Fortune Magazine podcasting theme music

 

The Alex Levin Trio plays some lovely instrumental jazz on A Reason for Being Alone. Some of the pieces are made for swinging around the dance floor and others are slower, and the two tempos act as counterpoints to each other. A pair of saxophones opens "Blues on Thursday," and the tone swirls around them for most of the piece. The piano is the quiet heart of "A Reason for Being Alone." Some of the themes started here are continued in "Emma's Ennui." The bass takes the lead at first, and then the melody passes on to the piano and guitar. The music takes a cheerier turn in "For Pete's Sake" as the tempo picks up as the melody spins round the dance floor. "Her Solitary Wish" starts off wistful as the mood is set by the saxophone, the mood softens as the piece progresses. The emotive themes continue in "Your Call," though they become marked with longing. With the change in tempo of "New Schooled" also comes a change in feel, and once again they slide from one mode to the next. One dance leads to another as swing gives way to a waltz, and "Polar Bear Waltz" is understated and elegant. They wrap up with "Blues Through Stained Glass" as each musician gets a solo that leaves the music a bit on the sparse side on occasion. There is a lot to like on A Reason for Being Alone as the music fits some of the various moods of the night.
~Paul de Bruijn, Rambles Magazine

 

A Reason for Being Alone, Alex Levin Trio. More and more jazz artists are coming out of the woodworks these days, and while there may not be room for all of them in the long run, Alex Levin has a good chance of sticking around. The Philadelphia bred pianist/composer is a rising talent, and here, he has done a wonderfully sublime expanded trio album, with solid compositions and exemplary playing. He displays a passion for the music, beautiful compositions that range from light, romantic and meditative waltzes to hard-bopping barn burners, all played with sophistication, creativity and flair. He adds two saxes for several tunes, broadening his palette, and then infuses cello for a chamber-like insouciance. If all new artists were as good as Levin, we would be overrun with talent. As it is, Alex Levin, if he continues his passion for the music, has a bright future.

~Kyle O'Brien Jazzscene ****1/2

 

A Reason For Being Alone is a terrific album. Alex Levin is a very talented pianist and with the other musicians in the trio, makes this album truly enjoyable.
~ Bruce VonStiers, BVS Reviews

 

Pianist/Composer Alex Levin’s new CD entitled, A Reason for Being Alone, provides yet another angle to the rich straight ahead jazz tradition with a set of creative originals that provide a sense of freshness, yet familiarity, through the use of various styles, varied instrumentation, solid writing, and well executed playing by all. This is a great find!  The sound quality is great and the playing is the same.  The familiarity of material that is always presented with freshness and thoughtfulness is sure to grab the jazz fans ears and give them A Reason for Being Alone with the Alex Levin’s musical novel, which will hopefully have a sequel soon!
~ Carmel DeSoto, Jazzpolice

 

It seems that Alex Levin had a very good "reason for being alone," allowing himself the time and space to create an exceptional CD of original compositions.  It also seems that he will need much better reasons in the near future as the success of his work takes him in a new and exciting directions.
~ Paul Sakion, Jazz Improv.

 

Through this program of his own compositions, he reminds us of the connection that jazz has with the wee small hours of the morning and the stillness of night.  Blues and bossa nova play a minor role, as the pianist concentrates on night music for his message - eloquently, and filled with somber thoughts. He brings in guest artists to give the trio a quality that's far from solitary.  "New Schooled" and "Blues Through Stained Glass," in particular, carry Levin's deeply felt message with plenty of reasons to check him out.
~ Jim Santella, LA Jazz Scene

 

It all starts with a blues quartet, by then it is hard to guess that the piano player is going to make you enter into his personal realm which really start with the title track coming right after, everything is now set for pure enjoyable moments of great jazz pieces.
~ Pascal Dorban, Radio ARA, Luxembourg

 

Alex (p) leads a trio with Diallo House (b) and Taylor Davis (d) playing nine of his original compositions. William Martina adds romance on "Emma's Ennui" using the bow when he takes the lead on cello. Guitarist Chad Coe makes a noteworthy guest appearance on the same tune. By the time they hit track 4, "For Pete's Sake" they are fully warm and Alex turns it up a notch on piano doing a little call and response with Davis. Stacy Dillard and Max Hacker add sax on a couple of tracks giving yet another dimension to the pallet. Our favorite was the swinging "New Schooled" which showed the maturity of the band. Good listening!
~ D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Magazine

 

On A Reason for Being Alone, pianist Alex Levin shows off a surprising range of styles with a core trio and a handful of guest appearances sprinkled throughout the album. The disc opens up with Blues on Thursday, a piece hearkening back to the transition from hard bop to soul jazz with some excellent parallel sax lines courtesy of Max Hacker and Stacy Dillard.  The title track, with a more reflective tone on piano used here which continues into the following pieces, but accompanied by a reflective cello in the samba-influenced Emma's Ennui. The performances become a little more grandiose (and the piano a little Keith Jarrett-like.  The tone of the album bounces around a fair amount, but the performers stay on top of things throughout.
~ Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide

 

Pianist/composer Alex Levin has penned a fine set of tunes for his sterling players - bassist Diallo House and drummer Taylor Davis; and the complementary playing (on selected tunes) of guests Max Hacker and Stacy Dillard on tenor saxes, Chad Coe on guitar and William Martina on cello - to bring to fruition. This music is very much in the straight ahead tradition but Levin understands how to put his own signature on what sounds like familiar material. Cellist Martina, for example, states the theme on the Brazilian-inspired “Emma’s Ennui” and Levin’s bittersweet melodic line sits perfectly in the voice of the cello. And guitarist Coe fills out the sound of the group with color and verve. Levin is a smart and sensitive pianist - he’s able to blend an accomplished technique with a sense of what works to tell a story. He understands the jazz vocabulary and also color and texture. He opens this, his second album, with “Blues for Thursday”, a crowd-pleaser that, says the composer, was written with Art Blakey in mind. Both horns state the theme and weave together a smoking tapestry of down-home emotion. And then Levin changes course and offers up a delicate ballad - the title tune - that is dark and quiet. “Her Solitary Wish” suggests brooding emotion but its melancholy theme and the powerful playing of Dillard turn this into a grand statement of passion.  These tunes and all the playing have a little of everything - blues, bebop, bossa, ballads and, somehow more. It makes sense that Levin is an English teacher and in pursuit of a degree in literature. His writing and the way he creates the space for his players to speak and act suggest the workings of a master communicator.
~ Donald Elfman, All About Jazz New York

 

This is a very solid trio ensemble featuring muscular players. Alex Levin (piano) Diallo House (bass), Taylor Davis (d) and special guests on various tracks Max Hacker, Stacy Dillard playing tenors, William Martina, cello, and Chad Coe guitar.  All compositions are by Levin and his straight ahead jazz style is true to the genre.  On the first tune "Blues On Thursday" there is fine interplay between the soloists and Levin's piano leads the way leaving plenty of room for guests Max Hacker and Stacy Dillard's saxes to stretch out and swing. "New Schooled" is an up tempo gem that Hacker takes to new heights as he rises to the occasion. Alex Levin swings mightily and this tune gets off the ground in a hurry. Great 4's between Levin and Hacker.  A fine album for you lovers of the true jazz mode.
~ John Gilbert, Ejazz News -5 Stars

 

Another one of those cool, under the radar piano jazzmen that you should take the time to get to know.  Grabbing a degree in literature before lamming out all over the world to live the live of the itinerant jazzman, Levin soaked up a lot of something in all that different water he was exposed to and it all comes together nicely here as he shows his chops on his second outing.  The set is driven by a real feel of personal passion and focus on his craft and art.  A player you should certainly get to know!
~ Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap

 

The title of this disc might suggest an inward-looking or melancholic listening experience; but the Alex Levin Trio, plus a couple of tenor saxophonists sitting in—Max Hacker and Stacy Dillard—blows the roof off on the opener, “Blues on Thursday.” It's a bright, gregarious, Art Blakey-esque sound, the horns sparring like a couple of free-swinging welterweights, snapping off jabs and flurries in front of a zingy rhythm. Put another quarter in the jukebox! All the compositions on A Reason for Being Alone are Alex Levin originals. He has a nice touch for penning upbeat mainstream jazz tunes with strong melodies, and for changing moods while still maintaining a continuity of feeling.  “Her Solitary Wish” shows some dark colors, with some very strong horn playing from Dillard, along with an inventive Levin piano solo. The drifting, sad-sounding tune “Your Call” features cellist Martina again, while “New Schooled,” with Max Hacker sitting in and smoldering on tenor sax, kicks up the energy level a few notches. A strong, engaging mainstream effort.
~ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz 

 

A Reason For Being Alone is Levin’s second release, featuring nine original compositions. His core trio of bassist Diallo House and drummer Taylor Davis is supplemented by four additional sidemen on several tracks, creating a nice sonic and stylistic variety.  One of these supplements, attractive and certainly unusual, is the work of William Martina on cello, an altogether underused instrument in jazz. A wonderfully mellow string voice offering a happy medium between bass and violin, Martina’s bowed melody line gives a markedly Django Reinhardt-ish flavor to “Emma’s Ennui,” and the song itself evokes John Lewis’ famous ode to the gypsy guitarist. This sense is further enhanced by Chad Coe, who contributes a nicely relaxed guitar solo. Martina also plays winningly on the lyrical “Your Call.”  Here, unfettered by the need to remain politely unobtrusive and perhaps bolstered by the success of Night and Distance, Levin signals a willingness to strike a more assertive note with the opening track, “Blues on Thursday.” A distinctly Horace Silver-tinged concoction, the dueling saxophones of Stacy Dillard and Max Hacker make for a pleasantly raucous atmosphere. Levin’s ensemble works it way comfortably through several genres, including the straightahead “For Pete’s Sake” and the bebop “New Schooled.” The Evans-esque “Blues through Stained Glass” shows Levin’s ability to raise piano to an art form, and the balladic title track is sensitively rendered.
~ Victor Verney, All About Jazz

 

New York-based pianist and composer, Alex Levin is another one of the fine young talented players around blazing his own unique trail on the jazz scene of today. Releasing his second CD within two years, A Reason for Being Alone is a dynamic new album of fresh new material in the contemporary jazz mode played with grace and elegance.
~ Edward Blanco, Ejazz News

 

I love the counterpoint between the entrance instrumental cadenza of the 1'st tune on Alex's disc, and his proclaiming his assertiveness as a fine jazz pianist-improviser. Then, there's the added instrumentalist-cameos bringing panache %26 animation to an already viable group effort. Alex's huge tone never sounds unwieldy at any tempo and is particularly sumptuous at the slower tempos. In fact, let me suggest that Alex plays with a warm buttered tone, and an enchanting ability to produce compelling melodic and harmonic creations from his musical magician's hat. I predict were going to hear a lot more from this talented craftsman.
~ George W. Carroll, Ejazz News

 

Upon hearing the recording I was immediately drawn to his compositions and the way in which his fine group of musicians executed them. Alex Levin is a talent worth watching and his latest CD is worth being part of anyone's library of new artists.  I know he'll get played on my program.
~ Ron Gill (Jazz Gallery), WGBH, Boston, MA.

 

Alex Levin's second release {A Reason for Being Alone} is a true reflection of his passionate musical personality and creative composing. An outstanding recording.
~Vincent Herring, Saxophonist 

 

'A Reason for Being Alone' features beautiful compositions and great ensemble playing, as well as nice orchestrations from Alex Levin. The music is transporting, like a score for a film that has yet to be produced. Alex is a romantic who, I can tell, believes in love!
~Anthony Wonsey, Pianist 

 

 

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