What's very evident in Refraction is that each cut was taken as-is, an in-studio ensemble gig, every element exactly as would be the case in an intimate candle-lit evening concert over cognac and truffles. The result is precisely what you got with all those treasured old audiophile slabs: creatives dropping straight into the pocket with tons of sober ideas and adventurous spirits amid an urban cognition of formal structures and their so crucial pervasiveness.
~M.S. Tucker, FAME Magazine
Refraction (listen on itunes)
Reinvigorating jazz-room tunes like Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and Frank Loesser's "If I Were a Bell" is the trio's objective, which they deliver beautifully as they integrate their own interpretations of structured motifs, exercising their imagination and flexing their prowess as jazz improvisers. They personalize the recording to their liking which coincidentally makes the tracks emote an agreeable
~ Susan Frances, Yahoo!
The Alex Levin Trio needs no introduction to lovers of jazz - they've been around playing and recording for many years now. This new album is for the `everyone' out there - whether labeled jazz lovers or no. The songs on this album are from the American Songbook, songs we all know and love and now there is more of a reason to love them. That reason is the smooth and supple sound Alex Levin finds in the keyboard and translates that into something entirely new, fresh, and better. And that is probable why he calls this album Refraction, which is defined as the turning or bending of any wave, such as a light or sound wave, when it passes from one medium into another of different optical density.
~ Grady Harp, 5 out of 5 Stars
From the first notes, one can’t help but notice Levin’s elegant, Hank Jones-like touch. But it’s also evident that he’s taken his cue from Bill Evans in finding beauty and lyricism in virtually everything he plays. And he never loses track of that all-important requirement: it must swing! His trio consists of Diallo Hines, bass, and Ben Clines, drums, and they prove to be very simpatico to Levin’s crystalline concept. And how can one argue with his choice of tunes, everyone a time honored winner. We are treated to “My Romance,” a staple in the Evans book; two Cole Porter gems, “Night And Day” and “All Of You”; the piano favorite, “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise”; a right hand with Pete Jolly crispness on “If I Were A Bell”; and a fresh visit to “Green Dolphin Street.” On an album that delights from the first note to the last, Levin’s final two entries were my favorites: Thelonious Monk’s rarely heard “San Francisco Holiday (Worry Later)” is an “all Monk” curio; and Matt Dennis’s “Everything Happens to Me” is an example of straight forward piano perfection. I’m very impressed with Levin’s total honesty. He honors a tradition of impeccable jazz pianists, and thus becomes one of them.
~ George Fendel, Jazzscene
The Alex Levin Trio is comprised of Alex Levin on piano, Ben Cliness on drums, and Diallo House on bass. This New York City-based jazz combo is best known in their home town as well as in Japan where they apparently already have a very dedicated following. Refraction is the fourth full-length release from this trio...and it's chock full of inviting light jazz that is perfect for setting that exact mood during the evening hours. House and Cliness provide the exacting jazzy/funky backdrop as Levin's fluid keyboard playing takes center stage. These tunes have a classy and classic sound that should appeal to just about anyone who loves cool jazz artists from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Levin, Cliness, and House aren't trying to push the envelope here...instead preferring to simply play music that is soothing, resilient, and reflective. Eight groovy cuts including "My Romance," "If I Were A Bell," and "Everything Happens To Me."
~ Don S., LMNOP Magazine
Pianist Alex Levin is joined by drummer Ben Cliness and bassist Diallo House, and together they play the kind of jazz that jumps eras to create the kind of aura that helps to make it a bit more timeless. Wikipedia defines refraction as “the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its medium. It is essentially a surface phenomenon.” Perhaps in this case, the music may seem to be going in a different direction but its sources/influences will always remain the same. Or maybe because all of these songs are covers, they may sound independent from the originals but their sources will always be individually one and the same. Regardless of the real reason behind the album title (there is a brief explanation in the liner notes written by Levin), Refraction is just well played and recorded jazz (produced by Levin, engineered by Rich Lamb and mastered by Max Ross) that doesn't need too much explanation, it’s great as is, from the surface. But an investigation within may lead to a refraction or two, which will lead to the realization that, again, its source remains the same. Back to the source…
~John Book, This is Books Music
This piano jazz trio strides proudly into its second decade. Note perfect throughout, Levin and the guys are keepers of the flame here, delivering a shining set with sparkle and low key fire that keeps your attention long after the record is done. Well done.
~ Chris Spector, Midwest Record