photo: Dion Ogust
Pete LevinIn 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.
With "Deacon Blues," Pete Levin re-emerged in 2007 as a band leader and master of reinvention, embracing his roots and first love, the Hammond Organ. Working with a group of iconic jazz sidemen (Joe Beck, Danny Gottlieb, Tony Levin, Mike DeMicco) Levin and company demonstrate an uncanny chemistry that is immediate and infectious.
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. "I started bringing a Clavinet, too. Eventually Gil brought John Clark into the band because I couldn't get back to my horn in time. After a while, I just stopped bringing it. Name another band leader that would let a sideman do that! I owe him a lot."
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. For Levin, this recording was a labor of love. "The Hammond Organ has got such a rich history. There's really no other sound quite like it. Even the best synth simulations fall short. You crank up the motor, you hit a note and it sings to you. It's like the soul of every organ player is being breathed out from the instrument."
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Motema MTM 0008
recorded 2007 in USA
Pete Levin, organ
Joe Beck, guitar
Mike Demicco, guitar
Danny Gottlieb, drums
Tony Levin, bass
Ken Lovelett, percussion, drums
Carlos Valdez, percussion
recorded january 2008 in Woodstock, NY/USA
Pete Levin, organ
John Cariddi, guitar
Mike DeMicco, guitar
Joe Beck, guitar
Jesse Gress, guitar
Erik Lawrence, sax
Ernie Colon, percussion
Ken Lovelett, percussion
"Uptown", from the album "Deacon Blues"
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