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Tony Levin - World Diary CD (album) cover

WORLD DIARY

Tony Levin

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.23 | 16 ratings

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convocation
4 stars World Diary is quite distinct in style from Levin's later solo projects, but no less aesthetically pleasing. At first blush the work seems to fluctuate back and forth between laid-back modern arrangements and more "world-music" constructions. However, what unifies this work is Levin's own personal style in creating a cohesive mixture of modern jazz themes & instruments with simple acoustic world-music sounds. There is a common jazz flavor throughout almost the entire work. Levin makes use of acoustic instruments from numerous cultures giving a "world music" quality to most compositions. This "album" also leaves much in Levin's range of talents unrealized; however, the potential for further development is evident in each piece. Experimentation is the main dish, served fresh as if it were written yesterday. It deserves five stars for the broadminded that can see the wealth of possibilities that comes from mixing progressive, jazz, and world music themes and instruments. It can't be called a masterpiece, yet four stars seem appropriate. Besides, for some younger really curious ones, here's a chance to see how the big boys do it.

"Chasms" evokes tension and apprehension based on a simple repeating base line that really works. Voices and stringed instruments wale in the background. "Train" is a cheery calypso-sounding piece. Wordless baritone & tenor voices enrich the aural environment. It is a pleasure to be introduced to the Kenyan instrument called the Nyatiti. "We Stand in Sapphire Silence" is probably one of best tracks on "World Diary". The pace could be described as meditative in mood and the Japanese koto playing is superb. "Smoke" is a brief transition melody for the tracks before and after, which succeeds nicely. The music leaves you with the impression of sitting in a basement jazz bar with a smoky haze filling the room; all confirmed later by the liner notes. "Etude in the key of Guilford" is much more urgent in tone and makes use of electronic drums that remind one of marimbas. "Espresso & the Bed of Nails" is by-far the most exciting interesting track. It has both an industrial and natural feeling, with numerous odd beautiful sounds. The controlled chaos commences about halfway through; it's simply marvelous. "Mingled Roots" evokes memories of passages from Peter Gabriel's sound track for "Last Temptation of Christ". The doudouk-double base duet is really fine. "Nyatiti" is interesting through Levin's use of simple resonant instruments; the overall effect is to give it the simplicity of casually orchestrated tribal music. The whole track is quite joyous and celebratory. "Jewels" initially centers around a theme played on a stick with a volume pedal muting the attack of each tap on the strings. Bill Brufords electronic drums lend a real sweetness to the whole piece. The unaltered stick only visits the piece briefly, before the volume pedal treatment returns. This track was apply named as it does evoke a remote feeling one gets starring at jewels in a fine shop or museum. "La Tristesse Amoureuse de la" has a mellow jazz character to it. At first the doudouk leads the electric bass and drums on a journey. This is full of jazz improvisations that really work together. "Heat" lingers like humidity in a jungle setting. The percussion precession here is amazing and worth listening to over and over. The whole idea of having so many musical toys to play with is enough to make any self-respecting rhythm person jealous. "I Cry to the Dolphined Sea" is a jazz tune lead by an enthusiastic saxophone performance. The stick and drums provide a perfect complement to the saxes. "The Sound of Goodbye" is a duet between the koto and a stick. Simlpy put, this work is transporting. Just close your eyes and listen.

convocation | 4/5 |

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