Woodstock CD - Feature - Pete Levin A Solitary Man
Pianist Pete Levin "speaks" with a singularly compelling voice in A Solitary Man, a gripping affair whose vigor and virtuosity transcend the perfumed flaccidities of the typical con-fusion date.
After his first solo album, "PARTY IN THE BASEMENT", Pete wanted this project to have some feeling of a band unit that was doing some live playing in the studio. The quintet he formed includes some very special players.
Alex Foster and Pete share much of the Gil Evans legacy. Alex is an outstanding and versatile musician who brings exciting and soulful qualities to whatever he plays. His saxes give the album and the band a soaring lead voice.
Jeff Berlin is something of a phenomenon. His bass technique is dazzling - he can play stuff that nobody else can play - which sometimes obscures his superior musicianship. He did a great job in laying the basic feel for many of the tracks on SOLITARY MAN and popped off a couple of solos that spawned separate reviews in bass magazines.
At the time of recording, Cliff Almond was a 23-year old whiz. He'd only recently arrived on the New York music scene from California and his talents were quickly being discovered. He'd already been driving bands for Michel Camilo, Joe Beck, Steve Kahn ... and Pete Levin!
Manolo Badrena is a veteran of the New York jazz scene. Again, Pete and Manolo share the Gil Evans legacy. Manolo is great at adding tasteful textures and colors to whatever music he's doing rather than just slammin' out a groove.
Lew Soloff and Pete go back to the early 70's, growing up in the Gil Evans Orchestra together. On Pete's first album Lew was a featured performer. Here Lew guests on one very emotional track, "GIL SINGS WITH THE ANGELS", playing the solo in one take after having heard the track only once.
Ray Anderson has virtually rewritten the book on playing his instrument. His playing is earthy, bluesy, funky and avant-guard at the same time. Pete wanted a different voice on "EITHER/OR END UP DOWN" which is a tongue-in-cheek blues that's bent way out of shape. Somebody should transcribe the amazing solo he took on it.
Well known in the New York studio scene for his work with Pop and R&B artists, Nick always seems to come up with the perfect rhythm groove, leaving you wishing you'd thought to ask for just that. He's just "sitting in" on a couple of tracks, but his presence adds a great pop to the rhythm.
Produced by: PETE LEVIN
Recorded at: CREATIVE AUDIO, NEW YORK, NY
Recording Engineer: JASON BAKER
Mixed at: ELDORADO RECORDING, HOLLYWOOD, CA
Mix Engineer: ALAN MYERSON
"2069 (A Spaced Oddity)" mixed by: JASON BAKER at CREATIVE AUDIO, NY
Mastered by BOB LUDWIG at MASTER DISK, NEW YORK, NY
Cover photo: SALLY ANDERSON-BRUCE
Pete Levin - keyboards
Alex Foster - saxophones
Jeff Berlin - electric bass
Cliff Almond - drums
Manolo Badrena - percussion
Lew Soloff - trumpet
Ray Anderson - trombone
Nick Moroch - guitar
Pianist Pete Levin "speaks" with a singularly compelling voice in A Solitary Man (Gramavision, R2 79457;62;45), a grip-ping affair whose vigor and virtuosity transcend the perfumed flaccidities of the typical con-fusion date. Here, Levin and comrades come out brawling, with Abraham, a flinty fling featuring saxophonist Alex Foster, the exceptional electric bass of Jeff Berlin, drummer Cliff Almond and percussionist Manolo Badrena. Even on the deceptively simple title track, check out the groove -- tough! For contrast, there's the haunting moodiness of Jimmy Giuffre's The Sad Truth and Levin's carnivalesque Streetband. Other memorable moments are Levin's evocative Gil Sings with the Angels with Lew Soloff's Miles-ish muted trumpet, and the keyboardist's puckish yet poetic 2069 (A Spaced Oddity).
Chuck Berg Jazz Times November 1991
In a diverse music career spanning several decades, keyboardist/arranger Pete Levin has performed and recorded with hundreds of Jazz and Pop artists - including Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Lenny White, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Robbie Robertson and John Scofield - receiving critical accolades for his work during a 15 year association with the legendary Gil Evans, and his 8 year stint with jazz icon Jimmy Giuffre.
While playing French Horn with the Gil Evans Orchestra in the early 70s, Levin brought a Moog Synthesizer to a gig at New York’s Village Vanguard. Already known as a “go to” synthesizer specialist, Pete was at the vanguard of that technology. Gil loved it and Levin’s role was permanently changed as the band transformed itself into the electric/acoustic hybrid ensemble that captivated audiences worldwide for years, winning two Grammy® awards along the way.
An in-demand New York session keyboardist, Levin has also created electronic realizations for hundreds of TV commercials, dramatic series and feature films, including “Missing in Action,” “Lean on Me,” “Silver Bullet,” “Red Scorpion,” “The Color of Money,” “Maniac,” “Spin City,” “America’s Most Wanted” and “Star Trek.” In a dizzying array of unrelated commissions, Levin composed orchestral scores for the feature film “Zelimo” and for a stage production of “The Dybbuk;” had the honor of composing the anthem for the 1992 United Nations Earth summit, “The Future is in Our Hands,” performing it twice for the U.N. General Assembly; and, as far removed from Jazz as it gets, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for writing the official military band arrangement of the U.S. Infantry song.
But Levin, whose wry sense of humor is never far from the surface, reveals that his all time favorite recording session produced the top-40 hit single “Close to You” by The Clams, a Spike Jones tribute band formed with his brother, bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), drummer Steve Gadd (Eric Clapton, Paul Simon) and Grammy® winning recording engineer Dixon Van Winkle (Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra). Thirty years later the recording is still a cult classic.
In 1990, Levin signed with Gramavision to release his first solo jazz album, “Party in the Basement,” followed by “Solitary Man” in 1991. Collaborating with drummer Danny Gottlieb, Pete released “The New Age of Christmas” on Atlantic and “Masters in this Hall” for Gramavision. In the years following, he released four New Age CDs for Alternate Mode Productions, and a variety of eclectic albums for independent labels.
With “Deacon Blues,” Pete Levin returns to the cutting edge as a band leader, while tipping his hat to his mainstream jazz roots. Expanding on the traditional organ trio format, his innovative arrangements are flavored with soul, samba and hip-hop grooves. The set mixes four Levin originals with his unique treatments of familiar classics, including Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues,” Ralph Towner’s “Icarus,” the Beach Boys’ “Sail on Sailor” and Erik Satie’s “First Gymnopedie.” The album features outstanding performances by bassist Tony Levin, guitarist Mike DeMicco, percussionists Ken Lovelett and Carlos Valdez, legendary jazz guitarist Joe Beck, and drummer, Danny Gottlieb. For Levin, this recording was a labor of love.
Veteran career side men and solo recording artists, both Levin brothers produce their own albums close to home, collaborating with other world-class musicians in their Woodstock, New York community. Pete’s Hammond is featured on Tony’s latest critically acclaimed Narada release, “Resonator,” while Tony’s basses grace several tracks on Pete’s “Deacon Blues.”
Pete currently tours playing piano and organ with The Tony Levin Band, his brother’s high octane Progressive Rock quintet that plays world-wide to sold out houses. Plans are in the works for double bill concerts with Pete’s trio opening for the Tony’s band in a historic pairing that aims to fire up legions of crossover music fans, as Tony’s fiery progressive rock is paired with Pete’s contemporary, improvisational jazz.
Learn more about Pete Levin at http://www.petelevin.com
Contact Pete Levin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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