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Note By Note - Levin BrothersPosted Saturday, September 20, 2014, at 9:03 AM
Tony Levin's resume more than speaks for itself -- especially in progressive rock circles.
Appearances on stage and on the albums of the likes of Peter Gabriel and King Crimson -- along with Todd Rundgren, Pink Floyd and (Jon) Anderson (Bill) Bruford (Rick) Wakeman & (Steve) Howe - is more than enough to cement one's ability to play with the cream of the crop.
And although his name might not roll off a music connoisseur's tongue as easily as Tony's does, brother Pete Levin's list of musical colleagues is every bit as impressive and gaudy. Pete has logged time with jazz heavyweights like Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis and Lenny White, to name just a few.
Despite such eye-popping stats - and although they were both members of Paul Simon's band together back in the late 1970s -- the one thing that has eluded the Levin brothers the past five decades, has been the time to get together and record an album as a combo.
Halleluiah! That is no longer the case and this one is most definitely worth that wait.
Levin Brothers (Lazy Bones Recordings) is a showcase for the astounding craftsmanship of Pete (piano, organ) and Tony Levin (bass, cello) and it brings the siblings' deep affection for traditional jazz to the forefront; the kind of jazz that certainly wouldn't have been out of place at Birdland or the Village Vanguard back in the late 50s and early 60s. While Levin Brothers does have that tone and timbre, by no means is the disc a retro affair filled with dusty, musty relics of a by-gone era. No, this one is fresh and immediate and moves along with the grace of a brisk summer breeze. It bops hard, it's sophisticated and cool, is frenetic in spots and is 100-percent groovy at all times.
As would be expected from this pair, the musicianship is world-class and that point is re-enforced numerous times throughout. More than just a family affair, however, the Levins get some excellent support from David Spinozza on guitar and Erik Lawrence on saxophone. The incomparable Steve Gadd also guests and lends his drums to a pair of bouncy cuts (the album-opener "Bassics" and the disc-closer "Fishy Takes a Walk").
One of the spotlight moments on the album is the Levin brothers' take on King Crimson's hauntingly-beautiful ballad, "Matte Kudasi." Tony helped write and played on the original, and in the able hands of him and Pete, the tune is given an intriguing makeover and would be a sure bet to bring the house down on the bandstand.
All-in-all, Levin Brothers is one intriguing and thoroughly-enjoyable disc. Here's hoping it won't be another five decades before we get a follow-up.
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Since my own high school sports career fizzled out before it really reached its zenith, I have managed to live vicariously through the student/athletes of the 16 high schools I've covered for Areawide Media since 2001. I've witnessed the highest of highs in the form of state championships. I have also seen first-hand the sting of disappointment when the ultimate prize was within reach, but still eluded the grasp of its pursuer. But through all the ups and downs associated with high school sports, my respect for the young competitors that suit up each night, along with the men and women who guide them, remains unwavering. Blog mission: With my passion for music, especially live music, running second only to my passion for sports, I'll try to devote this space to both. Especially when it concerns our region and what's happening around it. Look for commentary and features on area sports figures and musicians, along with things to get out and do in the beautiful Spring River/Ozarks area. But I'll not totally ignore the outside - I'll also hit on some national happenings in the wide worlds of sports and music.