Tony and Pete Levin are like the flames that bring the music to life in the sound of Jazz. They have both work with some of the most amazing artists and bands. Tony has played with; John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Todd Rundgren, and of course, King Crimson. His older brother, Pete, worked with; The Brubeck Brothers, Miles Davis, Bryan Ferry, Annie Lennox, Paul Simon, and Jaco Pastorius. That is a big combination for the two brothers to be working with some of the greats.
And with the release of Levin Brothers unleashed three years ago on the Lazy Bones Recordings label, it’s a trip down memory lane for them as they grew up listening to Bebop Jazz (Cool Jazz) in the 1950s. It’s a great release for them to bring helping hands including; Drummer Jeff Siegel, Guitarist David Spinozza, Saxophonist Erik Lawrence, and guest drummer who plays two of the tracks, Steve Gadd.
The booklet contains the liner notes and interviews with the Levin Brothers done by Anil Parsad (Music Without Borders: Innerviews). Anil knows his history very well and he has done his homework very well. It contains photos during the making of the album, portrait shots of Tony and Peter including the back cover of them as kids. They know they have a brotherhood together by family and honor between the two of them by giving each other a pat on the back.
I picked a few highlights on here that I was on a journey with both of the masters themselves. I Got Your Bach is their take of the first movement of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. You can imagine Tony is walking his lines on the upright bass like a dancer walking carefully on a tightrope whilst Pete channels his organ in the styles of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue-era.
The lukewarm take of the mellowing beauty of King Crimson’s Matte Kudasai which is from their eighth studio album, Discipline, the poignant beauty feels the vibrations as it blends well by taking a nice stroll through a snowy garden as Pete honors Vince Guaraldi. The opening track Bassics and Ostropolya, has a Monk-sque groove done in a Well You Needn’t-sque punch. It sounds as if Tony makes his bass sound like both Jimmy Garrison and Paul Chambers.
You can close your eyes and imagine yourself being in the original Birdland Jazz Club in 1950s New York at West 52nd Street in Manhattan, and seeing the greats performing this and giving a big roaring applause with a gigantic stamp of approval. Brothers shows Pete diving into his Organ of the ‘50s a-la Fats Waller style as he and Tony share the melody together with Spinozza’s Jazz chords and improve.
Havana features the Tango/Mambo sections done by drummer Jeff Siegel whilst Tony scats his vocals in a bit of his take of Tom Waits. Spinozza plays some of the melodies carrying the Latin-Jazz sound, but making it very relaxed and bluesy in his sound. I can imagine that they are having a great time creating magic. I had this vision of the group performing in the hottest part of the night at the Isla de la Juventud as the crowd dances to the sound.
This is a great release they have unleashed back in 2014. They will be performing on May 20th at The Falcon in Marlboro, New York this year. If you love the sound of the ‘50s Jazz and Bebop, this is worth picking up.