I first became aware of jazz pianist/songwriter OREN LEVINE back in 2015. I was enjoying a new song from Washington based jazz vocalist Aaron Myers – ‘Stand Right’. It had a lovely classic lounge jazz feel and its tongue-in-cheek humour (it was about politicians inability to agree… Brexit anyone?) recalled the wit and charm of the sadly missed Oscar Brown Jr. I discovered that the song was written by Oren Levine and the good news is that Mr L has just released his own long player – aptly called ‘Making Up For Lost Time’.
The 11 tracker is collaboration between Oren and members of DC’s vibrant jazz community – including the aforementioned Aaron Myers. Aaron fronts the lovely, show-flavoured ‘When The Morning Comes’ and ‘The Bar Where I Belong’ – a song very much in the manner of ‘One More For My Baby’. You can probably guess from that that Levine’s writing is informed and inspired by the great American songbook; though each song has its own story based on contemporary and personal events like ‘In The Lounge’. Oren says that this one was written in a Terminal 1 lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport while waiting for a home bound flight … he was working for Nokia and spent plenty of time in airports! He cleverly works airport codes into the lyrics and the laid back vocals come courtesy of Tony Gudell. The other main featured singer is Barbara Papendorp. She breezes sweetly through three tracks including the 50s clever, witty throwback ‘An August Day In April’ on which Myers and Gudell join in too and the plaintive ‘All I Ever Lost’
The album boasts two instrumentals including the vaguely Latin shuffle of ‘Nine Miles Wide’ (as opposed to ‘Eight Miles High’)… Herb Scott’s sax takes lead here.
Never less than intriguing, you can learn more about Oren Levine @ www.ohljazz.com