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TONY LEVIN

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Tony Levin biography
Anthony Frederick Levin - Born June 6, 1946, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Levin is one of those few bassists that made it as household names. Throughout his work with legends such as PETER GABRIEL, KING CRIMSON, ALICE COOPER and his numerous side projects, he established himself as one of the true pioneers of the instrument. He has always pushed the melodic boundaries of his instrument.

"Papa Bear" started his musical education at the age of 10, with an upright bass. The bass was not his only instrument, as he played also tuba for his high school band. After studying at the Eastman School of Music, he tried classical music with the Rochester Philharmonic, but understood he was more into jazz and rock. The 70's were starting, and the possibilities were infinite for a musician as talented as he was.

He appeared as a studio artist with LOU REED, ALICE COOPER, JEAN-PIERRE FERLAND, and finally PETER GABRIEL with whom he still is. While with Gabriel, he also masterised another instrument that is now automatically linked to him, the Chapman Stick. The 80's were also full of projects for him, including his stint with King Crimson, with whom he would stay for about two decades.

1996 saw his first solo album, ''The world diary'', wich is still seen by critics as his best effort. Some of his side projects include B.L.U.E (Bruford Levin Upper Extremities) with fellow Crimson memeber Bill Bruford, and LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT with 3 current members of Dream Theater, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and Mike Portnoy. In the 2000's Levin released ''Waters of Eden''(2000), ''Pieces of the sun''(2001), and ''Double Expresso''(2002), all on his own label, Narada.

http://yescography.tripod.com/tonylevi.htm

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Levin Torn WhiteLevin Torn White
Lazy Bones Recordings 2011
$17.98
$29.95 (used)
Double EspressoDouble Espresso
Narada 2002
$79.43
$11.39 (used)
Stick ManStick Man
Lazy Bones Recordings, Inc. 2007
$17.49
$4.99 (used)
Pieces of the SunPieces of the Sun
Narada 2002
$59.95
$2.22 (used)
Waters of EdenWaters of Eden
Narada 2000
$21.75
$3.95 (used)
ResonatorResonator
Narada 2006
$5.05 (used)
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TONY LEVIN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TONY LEVIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 26 ratings
World Diary
1995
2.71 | 29 ratings
Waters Of Eden
2000
3.61 | 28 ratings
Pieces Of The Sun
2002
3.84 | 36 ratings
Resonator
2006
3.32 | 25 ratings
Stick Man
2007
3.63 | 86 ratings
Levin, Torn, White
2011

TONY LEVIN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.54 | 26 ratings
Double Espresso
2002

TONY LEVIN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TONY LEVIN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 5 ratings
Prime Cuts
2005

TONY LEVIN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TONY LEVIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Waters Of Eden by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.71 | 29 ratings

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Waters Of Eden
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars With Tony Levin and his experience with bands like King Crimson and the like, you would expect a really great solo album with a lot of technical bass and complexities with jazz fusion leanings and a lot of improvisation. With 'Waters of Eden', what you end up with more than anything is something that sounds mostly like bad New Age music with a couple of tracks that are not bad, but most of them sounding dated and repetitive.

'Bone & Flesh' starts out as a nice atmospheric piece with shades of experimental and lush tones. About halfway through, it changes to a lilting world dance style with a heavy beat and a distinct melody, then ends with the soft sounds again.

'Waters of Eden' uses a violin and piano as backing to Levin's bass plucking out a nice melody. He later adds electric cello which takes over the melody. The California Guitar Trio guests on this track adding acoustic guitar later on in the track.

'Icarus' has a more mysterious edge to it with a sax taking the melody which is later shadowed with bass. The foundation of the song is good enough, but it sounds like a Kenny G melody, to 'smooth jazz' sounding for my taste.

'Gecko Walk' has a mid-tempo beat provided mostly by programmed percussion. The bass takes the melody again shadowed later with electric guitar. The main melody isn't very interesting, and overall the track falls flat with hardly any improvising at all, just a repeating of the main melody and very little variation.

'Belle' is a slow ballad with bass and piano providing the melody. It sounds like something you would hear in an elevator that probably would have been a big hit in New Age circles. It sounds very dated. You can sum it up in one word'.'Ugh!'

'Pillar of Fire' has a good driving rhythm and bass riff with electric guitar providing the main melody. The percussion has that world beat again like in track 1. Unfortunately, the 'Fire' gets doused at the 2 minute mark. The beat comes back about a minute later, and this pattern continues without a lot of variation again. At least it starts to get more intense towards the last part, but then when you think it might get good, it really does something stupid; it fades out.

'Boulevard of Dreams' has more of an improvised feel, the piano and bass creating a nice real jazz flavor, it is slow jazz, but at least it's not so New Age-y this time. It's actually a great track and has what most of the rest of the album lacks and so desperately needs: improvisation. Very nice.

'Opal Road' lets the acoustic guitar take the lead again with the bass shadowing later. It returns to that new age feel again. There's too much structure where looseness would have made things better. The repetitiveness just gets to boring.

'Utopia' is the final and also longest track on the album. At least you hope for a nice, rousing finale. It starts with a meandering bass melody with shimmering synths providing a feeling that something amazing is about to happen. When it does, it's just a mid tempo beat with a melodic bass playing a melody that is supposed to sound heroic. It just slogs on for 8 minutes, then fades out.

This is mostly a very frustrating album. Tony composed these tracks, but unfortunately only comes close to hitting the mark you expect in 3 of them. There is no doubt that Tony is an accomplished instrumentalist as he has proven over and over, so why he chose to make this more melody based so that it sounds like a New Age album instead of allowing for more improvisation from the talented musicians involved here is beyond me. It would have made more sense to release this kind of music in 1990, but in the year 2000, this even sounded dated. As much as I want to love Levin's solo albums, I end up coming away just feeling frustrated. I'm sorry to say this, but you are better off just leaving this one alone.

 Double Espresso by LEVIN, TONY album cover Live, 2002
3.54 | 26 ratings

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Double Espresso
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Back in N.Y.C.

Tony Levin is best known for being part of King Crimson in the 80's and 90's, but he has also played with Peter Gabriel, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, and others. Here he is performing live with his own band, The Tony Levin Band, the line-up of which also includes Jerry Marotta on drums, Jesse Gress on guitars, and Larry Fast on synthesizers. The latter is perhaps best known for his work with Nektar and for his own project Synergy, but Fast has also previously worked with Levin in Peter Gabriel's solo band. Leven himself plays bass and the Chapman Stick (among other instruments).

The set list featured on this double live album draws heavily from the then current Levin solo album Pieces Of The Sun, on which Fast, Gress, and Marotta all played. The Fifth Man, Phobos, Ever The Sun Will Rise, Apollo, Ooze, Tequila, Dog One, Silhouette, Geronimo, and the title track are all from that album. Personally I prefer the studio versions of most of these songs. This is especially true of Apollo which is an excellent composition but that sounded better on the studio disc. But these live versions are enjoyable too. Utopia and Pillar Of Fire are from Levin's previous solo record Waters Of Eden.

To represent Levin's days with King Crimson, they perform two songs that he co-wrote and performed with that band. These selections are Elephant Talk from 1981's Discipline and Sleepless from 1984's Three Of A Perfect Pair. While Sleepless is alright I have never been able to enjoy the annoying Elephant Talk, and this version does not change that.

A couple of covers are included in Genesis' Back in N.Y.C. and Led Zeppelin's Black Dog. They also play a version of Peter Gunn (also performed by Emerson Lake & Palmer) on which the California Guitar Trio appear as guests. Finally, L'Abito della Sposa is a song that (according to the spoken introduction) Levin co- wrote with an Italian musician. Apparently, Levin himself sings this one in Italian language! The second disc also includes a studio track called Belle.

Overall, this is an interesting and mostly enjoyable live album, but it is generally not as good as the Pieces Of The Sun studio album.

 Levin, Torn, White by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.63 | 86 ratings

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Levin, Torn, White
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by steelyhead

4 stars Coming from the left field we have this CD. I didn't expect the kind of music They are producing. Using just one word: superb.

Three different kind of musicians working as a whole. Levin, precise and funky as usual, Torn sometimes is Beck sometimes is Fripp and sometimes is just simply him, but the real surprise here is White. I think someone misspelled his name in the cover, It should say: Terry Bozzio because is exactly how powerful and quirky He sounds.

An excellent record who gives me hope of the way the music is going into the future. I just wish They keep working together.

 Levin, Torn, White by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.63 | 86 ratings

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Levin, Torn, White
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

2 stars In the Progressive Rock World pretty much everybody know Tony Levin and Alan White. The first one has been playing with thousands of different bands like King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Liquid Tension Experiment, and not just that, he has played over 500 album in his career as a session musician. The later have been playing with Yes since 1972. David Torn is the 'unknown' guy in the mix.

For those who read my reviews and know me will not come as a surprise that this album is hard for me to 'swallow'. It's always like that in the Jazz Fusion Prog Instrumental world for me. Bands and musicians that try too hard to show off their abilities in their instruments but forget the melodies are always in my black list.

Levin Torn White (2011) was released by Tony Levin label Lazy Bones Records in September 2011. The digital album was sent to me by their manager, and this was a good thing, I guess, I hate to listen to albums to review in MP3, but some albums? well, they would not be listened again anyway. So, MP3 it is. To be honest with you Levin Torn White (2011) isn't all bad, but it's one of that albums that you listen when it's released and then gets lost in the shadows of time? deservedly.

 Levin, Torn, White by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.63 | 86 ratings

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Levin, Torn, White
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Levin Torn White in which White once again stalks Bruford.

Actually it's really great to hear White in a trio format. And like with Yes, Alan does sound a little like Bill. I've always found White's work with Yes was not to be too much of a standout and thought that was the main reason Bruford had to move on. In the trio White really gets the space to make more of a prescence. Thankfully Tony has elected not sing on this album. Not that he's a bad vocalist, it's just better when he sings through the bass. Torn brings in his rich cloud of guitar, atmospheric at times and earthy at others.

The trio lets loose and delivers fourteen instrumental tracks. Mostly on the heavy side. Vocals would get in the way of this sonic tapestry.

Be sure to wear your ultra mullett with the brain tatoo underneath when attending the prom night of the centipedes.

 Levin, Torn, White by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.63 | 86 ratings

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Levin, Torn, White
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Review originally posted at www.therocktologist.com

When musicians of this quality gather for a new project, one cannot help but listen to it, knowing that it would have something interesting to share. I know it is not good to have prejudices, but if you hear the names of Tony Levin, David Torn and Alan White, you cannot expect anything but a pleasant listening. And I was right, the album did not let me down at all. But be careful because this is an instrumental album that is not for everyone, so if you are a pure vocal lover, this might not be for you, otherwise you will have a great time.

The Levin-Torn-White album saw the light of day this year (2011) via Lazy Bones Recordings, and comprises fourteen songs that make a total time of 55 minutes, worth of every listen, as you can imagine. The songs are not really long, oscillating from 1:30 to 5:30 minutes. The references to King Crimson or Yes may be obvious due to the musicians in this project, and it does have some moments that will remind you of them, however, the sound is not really what you would think. Here the experimental side of Torn's guitars produces rich textures that give the music a different style and direction.

The album kicks off with "No Warning Lights" which is a two minute introductory track, with some explosive moments and chaotic tunes. "Ultra Mullet" has that wonderful stick that Levin always provides, this is one of those moments that reminds us to King Crimson, however, the song changes and that experimental and even noisy side of guitars adds its grain of sand, giving the track a new direction.

"White Noise" actually sounds like the title suggest, or at least I could relate the music to that metaphoric name, which could also be related to the drummer's playing style, which is always clean, constant and challenging. "The Hood Fell" is a quirky and accomplished track, with cool guitars and great musicianship that creates a high amount of textures and nuances.

With "Monkey Mind" you can close your eyes and transport yourself to another realm and create your own story. It has at first a soft and atmospheric sound, which later morphs into a tense and even chaotic tune. This is a track I like a lot. And what I like most is that the song that follows is"Cheese it, the Corpse", which happens to be another of my favorite moments, so this particular two-song combo is probably my best loved part of the album. This track perfectly sums up this Levin-Torn-White sound, with an eclectic and experimental side that should please fans of progressive rock.

"Convergence" is another wonderful track. More atmospheric, relaxing but at the same time tense. The music flows but not only on this track, but on the whole album, so even though you understand when a new song begins, all of them are part of a puzzle - so it is like a 55- minute track divided into 14 pieces. "Pillowful of Dark" as you can imagine has that obscure sound, like being in an unknown place and being worried about the road you will take because you are afraid of being wrong. Well, the music is a matter of subjectivity, so I imagine other people have quite different mind representations.

"The Eggman Cometh" is the sorter track that sounds like pure improvisations with cool drums, atmospheric guitars and nice bass notes. On the other hand, "Sleeping Horse" is the longest one, with a richness of elements, cool guitars, dreamy atmospheres and electronic devices. The whole track continues with the same structure, but the great thing here is that if you have good headphones, you will better appreciate the new elements that are being added through the minutes.

"Prom Night of the Centipedes" has once again that atmospheric scheme, but perfectly complemented by those rock and experimental tunes. "Crunch Time" has a pretty cool bass sound that is actually addictive. The diversity in the guitar sound along with the great drums makes it a very strong and excellent track from the first to the last second.

"Brain Tattoo" is an explosive theme whose diversity of colors and textures makes it really rich. Here I really like what Torn does with his guitars, implementing different styles and sounds during the whole track. And finally "Lights Out", which begins with a softer and mellower sound, however, it is gradually progressing until it reaches a climax. This is a great song that closes this great album.

Well, so having a Tony Levin, David Torn and Alan White project is something delicious that you should not miss. I've had a great time while listening to it, so I strongly recommend it. Four stars.

Enjoy it!

 Levin, Torn, White by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.63 | 86 ratings

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Levin, Torn, White
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by boe_a

5 stars Jesus CHRIST! This is one of the best things I have heard in quite awhile. The chops are beyond reproach, and I can truly say that I have rarely ever heard Alan White play like this. Tony goes for broke, and Torn does that he does best, which is create canvases of guitar sound. The songs sound like they were improvisations, or based on small motifs that they them just riffed on. I have no fixed favorites yet, but to my mind they are all inter-related. Musically, it could be (sort of) described as Crimson-ish ECM noise jazz with John Lennon's drummer! (ha ha). White is the real deal here. As I said, I have not heard him play like this forever! And certainly not this kind of music! You guys (and Girls) are gonna LOVE it! 5 stars!
 Stick Man by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.32 | 25 ratings

BUY
Stick Man
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Different isn't always better...

Pat Mastelotto joins Tony Levin for his fifth studio album.

The Good: Speedbump.

The Bad: After years of bemoaning the mediocrity of Tony Levin's solo releases in comparison to his work with other bands he finally pulls out all the stops and goes for broke. This unique and highly experimental recording is full of ideas and far more bass orientated than previous efforts.

But is it enjoyable? In short, No. Listening to it is a bit like sitting through a lecture on the inner workings of some intricate phenomena. Whilst it may be interesting to those 'in the know', for the rest of us mere mortals it just results in utter boredom for the best part of an hour.

The Verdict: Gonna stick with SMV from now on.

 Waters Of Eden by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.71 | 29 ratings

BUY
Waters Of Eden
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Watery Eden...

The second solo release from prolific bass player Tony Levin and features contributions from Jerry Marotta, Warren Bernhardt and the California Guitar Trio.

The Good: Bone & Flesh, Gecko Walk and Pillar of Fire are all pretty cool.

The Bad: I've always been a fan of Tony Levin's work with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and Liquid Tension Experiment but have never really appreciated his solo work. Whilst Waters of Eden is one of his better releases, it still falls somewhere between soothing and bland and is a far-cry from the intricate virtuoso bass playing which is so often associated with him.

The Verdict: Pleasant but nothing more.

 Pieces Of The Sun by LEVIN, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.61 | 28 ratings

BUY
Pieces Of The Sun
Tony Levin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Andy Webb
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Jazz fusion, Levin style

Tony Levin is well known as a bass virtuoso in progressive music. Whether it's his insane work with King Crimson, his great work with Peter Gabriel, or his genius contributions to the more recent supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment, Levin has certainly left his mark as one of the more influential bassists today. Another addition to his impressive resume is his prolific solo career, whether it is with his 'band,' his side project 'Stick Men,' or any of his other bass-heavy projects. On this album, Pieces of the Sun, Levin exemplifies the eclectic style he has shown throughout all of his various bands and projects, with each song featuring a different flair of his unique career. From the dark to the peppy to the jazzy to the funky, the album contains a huge blend of great features.

The most obvious characteristic that stands out about this album is the eclectic blend of styles Levin uses to craft his songs. Whether it's the almost metallic yet upbeat and jazzy opener 'Apollo' or the pop inspired but still dark 'Dog One' (which is taken from a Peter Gabriel session he played in), the album has a huge blend of styles to make this album truly unique. The album has an overall very jazzy feel, with his obvious fusion influence, inspired by his various jazzy projects such as Bruford Levin Upper Extremities and others, really shine through to give it a nice funky feel.

Musically, the album truly shows that Levin knows his stuff. His masterful control over melody, harmony and overall communicatory instrumentation is truly fantastic all over the album. His use of a wide variety of instruments, from an acoustic guitar trio to his numerous basses to numerous stringed and synthesized instruments really adds a nice harmonious touch to the music. I find it great how he incorporates so many of his influences into each individual track, from funk in 'Tequila' to eclectic rock like his days in King Crimson into 'Blue Nude Reclining' (which I believe is a reference to his side project BLUE as well). Overall, his mastery of the music he plays truly makes this album a gem, with cinematic touches adding an exciting flair and melodic grace truly accenting the album to make it a great progressive jazz showing.

My absolute favorite track on the album and probably one of my favorite jazz rock tracks is the title track of this album, which is actually how I found this album (thank you YouTube). Musically, this is easily the most genius track on the album. Highly syncopated, the rhythms compliment the melody in an almost dissonant way, as a tribal feel rotates around screeching guitar solos and pulsing bass lines (in which he uses his epic 'funk fingers,' which are essentials drumsticks he attaches to his fingers). The song is a slow build, and when it releases, it transforms into a LTE-esque funk marathon, with bass exploding forth from the speakers and the whole band conforming around him to make a truly amazing song.

Overall, this album is truly great. With fantastic instrumental performance (well, the whole thing is basically instrumental) and a superb mastery of an eclectic style, Levin has output a fine album, full of memorable tracks and wonderful moments. In the end, this is truly a gem of jazz rock music. 4 stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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