Pete Levin
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Pete Levin

Saugerties, New York, United States | INDIE | AFM

Saugerties, New York, United States | INDIE | AFM
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Jan
13
Pete Levin @ Hilton Hotel

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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Downbeat Magazine
May 2007
by Ken Micallef


Synth specialist Pete Levin has veered into organ territory. The New York artist has a serious keyboard resume (playing with the likes of John Scofield, Miles Davis and Gil Evans), so you'd expect him to lay down some real grease and gravy on Deacon Blues, his first album to embrace the Hammond B-3. Levin and company play it cool for much of the album, but when the group catches fire, as on "Dragonfly" and "Uptown," Deacon Blues glows with purpose. Drummer Danny Gottlieb floats like a bee on the circuitously flammable "Dragonfly," which also features some of Levin's best B-3 work, and everyone smokes on "Uptown," a classic organ trio cooker. The date's a mixed bag, but one that offers some moments of white-knuckled heat.
- Downbeat Magazine


Jazz Times
May 2007
by Bill Meredith

Keyboardist Pete Levin has remained under the radar, especially when compared to bass-playing brother Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), by playing as a sideman and working in TV and film over the past 40 years. Deacon Blues is a rare solo release, and features the synthesizer specialist playing Hammond organ exclusively.

Early cuts, like covers of Steely Dan (the title track) and the Beach Boys (“Sail On Sailor”) succeed through Levin’s interplay with drummer Danny Gottlieb and guitarists Joe Beck and Mike DeMicco. Brother Tony contributes bass on a few tracks, freeing up the keyboardist from his simultaneous bass pedals and resulting in the disc’s best performance, a creative Levin arrangement of classical composer Erik Satie’s “First Gymnopedie.”
- Jazz Times


Blue Railroad Magazine
May 2007
Pete Levin: Deacon Blues
by Paul Zollo

He's one of the greatest studio cats around - he's played synth and organ for a multitude of legends. Now here comes another turn for Pete Levin to shine, this being his fourth solo album, and it's a magical and soulfully swinging song cycle that all fans of virtuosic jazz will seriously dig. Great chops, great vibes, great time spent deep in the pocket of the music. The man knows how to make a Hammond B-3 sing. With about as solid of a crew of supporting players as any musician could dream. This record cooks and sizzles with high-life jazz intensity.
- Blue Railroad Magazine


Audiophile Audition
Pete Levin, B-3 - Deacon Blues - Motéma
A B-3-based album with a difference
May 2007
by John Henry

Pete Levin, B-3 - Deacon Blues - Motéma MTM 0008, 66 min. *****

Since Levin has been doing all sorts of other musical gigs in recent years and hasn't been performing regularly in a typical B-3 trio format, he brings a fresh new approach to his role as the band leader on this new disc. The tunes here are not at all the typical ones you might hear on a B-3 trio album. The 60s Blue Note sound is prominent in Uptown. An unexpectedly welcome tune to my ears is Ralph Towner's vehicle for the band Oregon, Icarus. Two Jimmy Giuffre compositions grace the CD - another brave foray by Levin into challenging compositional territory, but beautifully handled. The whole CD has so much more depth and density than the typical B-3 trio album that most of the competition pales in comparison. - Audiophile Audition


Progression Magazine
March 2007
by Eric Harabadian

Pete Levin should certainly be counted among the Hammond Organ’s modern masters as he has served as a session artist and touring sideman for decades. On “Deacon Blues” he comes center stage with a post-bop oriented agenda that highlights swinging original compositions, empathic players and a great overall vibe.
- Progression Magazine


Daily Freeman
Kingston, NY
March, 2007
by David Malachowski

Venerable musician Pete Levin has played with a dizzying array of superstars, but with Deacon Blues, he has a lot to say himself, and we should all stop and listen. Bringing in the heavy­hitter soloists certainly makes this outing a real treat, but make no mistake, Levin is never overshadowed here, he in fact is the reason why the others are able to soar, and he does himself time and again. A true master musician, Levin is never shackled by genre or form, if he thinks it, he can play it. But Deacon Blues is a real jazz record and all you have to do is listen, and smile.
- Kingston Daily Freeman


Sea of Tranquility
February 12th 2007
by Pete Pardo
Score: * * * *

Normally known for his synthesizer prowess, Levin's Hammond skills are upfront and center here on Deacon Blues. Listen to him add his smoky tone alongside the smooth as silk trappings from ace guitar veteran Joe Beck. Mike DeMicco also gets room to shine, dueling with Tony Levin's slippery bass lines on the laid back "Sad Truth", and laying down liquid lines on "Eclipse". Despite all this guitar wizardry, this is really a vehicle for the great Hammond playing of Pete Levin, which is probably no more stunning than on the wonderful "First Gymnopedie", where he really digs in and stretches for some sumptuous lines that would make the late Jimmy Smith proud. B3 lovers get ready-Deacon Blues is a feast for the ears, and a super treat for Hammond fans. - Sea Of Tranquility


jazzreview.com
april 2007
by Thomas R. Erdmann

Keyboardist and synthesist Pete Levin is one of the more interesting musicians working today. On Deacon Blues, Levin’s ninth recording as a leader, Levin performs solely on the Hammond B-3, rocking immediately and throughout. From the opening of the first tune, a workout of Donald Fagan’s “Deacon Blues,” to the last note of the standard “Mean To Me,” Levin and his cohorts not only don’t stop to take prisoners, they run roughshod over the terrain leaving behind burned out husks of life where their path tread. On each and every tune, all the musicians just as supportive and hard-driving as the leader. On the guitar chair, Beck is more percussive and punctuating in his guitar style and matches Levin precisely on “Deacon Blues” and Ralph Towner’s “Icarus,” while DeMicco seeks to splash more with extended chordal layering, each to brilliant effect. With the addition of the drummers and percussionists, who serve to work up an astounding implosive drive on each and every tune, there just isn’t a bad cut on the disc.
- Jazz Review


Elmore Magazine
On The Record
June 2007
Pete Levin: Deacon Blues
by Robin The Hammer

What we have here is a disc full of great playing by masters of the trade. Pete 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. Levin lays back and features his players - the mark of a good leader. The whole thing Swings. All in all, a treat for fans of intimate, thoughtful jazz.
- Elmore Magazine


Discography

CERTIFIED ORGANIC (2008 PLM)
DEACON BLUES (2007 Motema)
CRYSTALS (2000 Alternate Mode )
MEDITATIONS (1998 Alternate Mode)
A SOLITARY MAN (1991 Gramavision)
MASTERS IN THIS HALL (1990 Gramavision)
PARTY IN THE BASEMENT (1989 Gramavision)

Expanded discography at http://www.petelevin.com/pk-bio.htm

Photos

Bio

In 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. Says Levin,

“What I got from Gil was the unshakable notion that playing music was to create from a place where there are no boundaries. If it can be imagined then it can be done.”

With “Deacon Blues,” Pete Levin re-emerges 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. Gil loved it and Levin’s role was permanently changed as the band transformed itself into the electric/acoustic hybrid ensemble that captivated audiences worldwide for years, winning two Grammy® awards along the way.

“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.

“All my arranging and orchestrating work is grounded in what I experience in live performance, interacting with other musicians and audiences. That’s what I was trained to do. Synthesizers and computer programming came later. My best and most creative ideas come from playing live.”

In 1990, Levin signed with Gramavision to release his first solo jazz album, “Party in the Basement,” followed by “A 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, while tipping his hat to his mainstream jazz roots. Expanding on the traditional organ trio format, his innovative arrangements are flavored with soul, samba and hip-hop grooves. The set mixes four Levin originals with his unique treatments of familiar classics, including Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues,” Ralph Towner’s “Icarus,” the Beach Boys’ “Sail on Sailor” and Erik Satie’s “First Gymnopedie.” The album features outstanding performances by bassist Tony Levin, guitarist Mike DeMicco, percussionists Ken Lovelett and Carlos Valdez, legendary jazz guitarist Joe Beck, and drummer, Danny Gottlieb. 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.”

Veteran career side men and solo recording artists, both Levin brothers produce their own albums close to home, collaborating with other world-class musicians in their Woodstock, New York community. Pete’s Hammond is featured on Tony’s latest critically acclaimed Narada release, “Resonator,” while Tony’s basse