Elmore Magazine On The Record By Robin The Hammer - Review
a synth wizard and an electronic visionary
On The Record
Pete Levin: Deacon Blues
by Robin The Hammer
What we have here is a disc full of great playing by masters of the trade. Besides Pete's brother Tony Levin on bass, you get Joe Beck and Mike DeMicco on guitar, Danny Gottlieb and Ken Lovelett on drums and Carlos Valdez, percussion.
Pete Levin is a well known and in-demand session guy, playing for acts as diverse as Annie Lennox, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Robbie Robertson and many others of the same caliber. He played with Gil Evans for fifteen years, Jimmy Giuffre for eight. He is known as a synth wizard and an electronic visionary, but here he is doing what he loves to do; playing the Hammond B-3.
The approach to the tunes is varied and skillful. There is a lot of the old-time organ instrumental sound of the '60s at first ("Deacon Blues," and Pete's own composition "Uptown"), a little Jimmy Smith, a little Ray Charles - a great sound. He plays standards, new standards, drawn largely from the rock repertoire ("Sail On Sailor"), but then there's Satie's "First Gymnopedie." Then it shifts into all sorts of things, from deep jazz composition to bluesy jazz-rock. You will find throughout the record that Levin lays back and features his players - the mark of a good leader. His own "Once Lost" features Mike DeMicco's guitars, screaming and tearing against modern hip-hop inspired rhythms. There is a surprising take on Ralph Towner's "Icarus," and several different moods are explored on Jimmy Giuffre's "Sad Truth," DeMicco's "Eclipse," and Levin's "Might Have Been," featuring Joe Beck. But the standout cut for me was Giuffre's "Dragonfly," heavy heavy heavy, meditative music! It all wraps up with an old Dixieland fave, "Mean To Me," and it swings. The whole thing Swings.
All in all, a treat for fans of intimate, thoughtful jazz.
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