Sea of Tranquility [Online review site for jazz fusion/prog, etc]
Pete Levin should be familiar to many fans of jazz, fusion, and prog, as not only has he played with the likes of Miles Davis, David Sanborn, John Scofield, Paul Simon, Robbie Robertson, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Annie Lennox, Lenny White, and Gil Evans, but he also happens to be the brother of acclaimed bassist Tony Levin. On Pete's latest solo album, the keyboard ace has recorded a throwback to the 60's organ trio's (Jimmy Smith or Larry Young anyone?) featuring his tasty Hammond licks coupled with guitarists Joe Beck & Mike DeMicco, drummer Danny Gottlieb, Carlos Valdez & Ken Lovelett on percussion, and brother Tony on bass.
Normally known for his synthesizer prowess, Levin's Hammond skills are upfront and center here on Deacon Blues. Listen to him add his smoky tone alongside the smooth as silk trappings from ace guitar veteran Beck on the title track, a cover of the Steely Dan classic. The two trade barbs on the red-hot "Uptown", and the Ralph Towner staple "Icarus" is given a royal treatment with some spooky organ from Levin and Beck's tasty legato licks. However, it's "Might Have Been" that offers up Joe Beck's most explosive solo on the CD, a scorching rock driven excursion with a touch of LA Jazz, sounding very much like a young Larry Carlton. DeMicco also gets room to shine, dueling with Tony's slippery bass lines on the laid back "Sad Truth", laying down liquid lines on "Eclipse", and blazing through the Brian Wilson penned "Sail on Sailor".
Despite all this guitar wizardry, this is really a vehicle for the great Hammond playing of Pete Levin, which is probably no more stunning than on the wonderful "First Gymnopedie", where he really digs in and stretches for some sumptuous lines that would make the late Jimmy Smith proud. B3 lovers get ready-Deacon Blues is a feast for the ears, and a super treat for Hammond fans.
1) Deacon Blues
3) Sail on Sailor
4) First Gymnopedie
5) Once Lost
7) Sad Truth
9) Might Have Been
11) Mean To Me
Added: February 12th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score: * * * *
Related Link: Pete Levin Website