||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2008)|
Levin with Liquid Tension Experiment, at NEARfest, 2008
June 6, 1946 in |
|Genres||Progressive rock, progressive metal, experimental rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion|
|Instruments||Chapman Stick, vocals, bass, double bass, synthesizer|
|Associated acts||King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment, Peter Gabriel, Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, Head, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe|
Fender Precision Bass
NS upright bass
Anthony Frederick "Tony" Levin (born June 6, 1946, Boston, Massachusetts) is an American progressive rock musician, specializing in bass guitar, Chapman Stick and upright bass. He also sings and plays synthesizer.
Levin is best known for his work with progressive rock pioneers King Crimson and Peter Gabriel. He has also been a member of Liquid Tension Experiment; the King Crimson-related bands Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, ProjeKct One and ProjeKct Four; and currently leads his own band, Stick Men.
A prolific session musician since the 1970s, Levin has played on 500 albums, including those of Cher, Alice Cooper, John Lennon, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Nicks, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Buddy Rich, The Roches, Todd Rundgren, Seal, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, Warren Zevon, Kevin Parent, Laurie Anderson, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Jean-Pierre Ferland. Additionally, he has toured with artists including Paul Simon (with whom Levin appeared in Simon's 1980 film One Trick Pony), Gary Burton, James Taylor, Herbie Mann, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, Tim Finn, Richie Sambora, and Claudio Baglioni.
Levin helped to popularize the Chapman Stick and the NS upright bass. He also created "funk fingers", modified drumsticks attached to fingers used to hit the bass guitar strings (which sounds similar to slap style bass).
Early life and education
Levin was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in the suburb of Brookline. He began playing double bass at 10 years old, primarily studying classical music. In high school, he learned tuba, soloing with the concert band, and also started a barbershop quartet.
After high school, he attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and played in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Also at Eastman, he studied with drummer Steve Gadd. He traded in his Ampeg electric upright "Baby Bass" for a Fender Precision Bass; his first bass amplifier on early days was an Ampeg Portaflex B-15.
In 1970, Levin moved to New York City, joining a band called Aha, the Attack of the Green Slime Beast, with Don Preston of The Mothers of Invention. Soon after, he began working as a session musician, and through the 1970s he played bass on many albums, including Buddy Rich's big band jazz album, The Roar of '74.
In 1976, Levin joined with Steve Gadd on drums to create the lush textures on Andy Pratt's Resolution album that included other studio musicians including Arif Mardin, Andy Newmark, Hugh McDonald, and Luther Vandross. Allmusic.com and Rolling Stone Magazine rated this album as one of the best singer/songwriter albums of the 1970s.
In the late 1970s, Levin joined Peter Gabriel's band. He had met Gabriel through producer Bob Ezrin (with whom Levin had recorded Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare and Lou Reed's Berlin). Levin has been Gabriel's bass player of choice ever since, both on the road and in the studio. On Gabriel's first solo album, Levin played tuba as well as bass, and directed a short barbershop quartet version of "Excuse Me".
In these early years with Gabriel, Levin developed his playing of the Chapman Stick. In 1986, the song "Big Time", from Gabriel's So album, inspired the development of funk fingers, which are chopped off drumsticks used to hammer on the bass strings. Levin credits Gabriel with the idea, and Andy Moore, his tech at the time, with actually making them workable.
In 1978, Levin moved to Woodstock, New York, to join the band L'Image, which included his old friend Steve Gadd as well as Mike Mainieri and Warren Bernhardt. The band broke up after a year, and Levin stayed in Woodstock, where he still lives. While recording and touring Peter Gabriel's first album, Levin became acquainted with Robert Fripp, and in 1980, after having played on Fripp's solo album, Exposure, he became a member of the 1980s incarnation of King Crimson. He also played all of the bass guitar and Chapman Stick parts on Pink Floyd's 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason as a session player.
In 1989 Bruford asked Levin to play in Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, a splinter group of the band Yes. Because of the obvious emphasis on this being a band of former Yes members, Levin was never invited to become an official member, but played on ABWH's eponymous album (as well as the accompanying tour), and also on Yes' 1991 album Union.
In 1984 Levin released Road Photos, a collection of black and white photos taken during his travels with Crimson, Gabriel, Simon, and others. Another book of photos focusing on King Crimson's travels in the 1980s, The Crimson Chronicles volume 1, was released in 2004. There has been no word yet on the release of volume 2, which will cover the 1990s and possibly 2000s versions of the band. Levin has also written a book of career anecdotes and road stories called Beyond the Bass Clef.
Levin was part of King Crimson until the mid-1990s breakup of the "Double Trio" line-up of the band which consisted of Levin, Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn, Pat Mastelotto, and Bill Bruford. Fripp then reformed King Crimson as a quartet, without Levin and Bruford. Levin also took part in two of the post-breakup experimental sub-groups, ProjeKct One (1997) and ProjeKct Four (1998).
In 1998, Levin and Bruford formed Bruford Levin Upper Extremities with trumpeter Chris Botti and guitarist David Torn; the group released albums in 1998 and 2000. Levin also continued producing albums with his own band, the Tony Levin Band. This band consists of Jerry Marotta, Jesse Gress, Larry Fast, and Tony Levin's brother, Pete Levin.
In 1997, Levin teamed up with Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci, members of Dream Theater, as well as future Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess, for a project called Liquid Tension Experiment. The combo released two albums, Liquid Tension Experiment and Liquid Tension Experiment 2 in 1998 and 1999 respectively, as well as playing short tours in 1998 and 2008. There have also been two CDs of material released under the name Liquid Trio Experiment; the first composed of studio jams from the LTE2 sessions without Petrucci (Spontaneous Combustion), released for the band's tenth anniversary, and a live recording from a 2008 Chicago gig where Rudess's rig crashed and the other three covered for it with a nearly hour-long improvisation (When the Keyboard Breaks).
Levin also regularly plays live and occasionally records with the California Guitar Trio when schedules permit.
In 2004 Trey Gunn left King Crimson, and Fripp reinstated Levin as the bassist, although the band remained inactive until a short tour in 2008. No further plans have been announced.
In 2006, Levin released Resonator, an album which features long time band mates Jerry Marotta, Jesse Gress, Larry Fast, with the addition of his brother Pete Levin. The album is the first to feature Levin as a lead vocalist. 2007 saw the release of Stick Man, an album of pieces recorded on the Chapman Stick.
In 2009, Levin reunited with his band from 1973, L'Image, featuring Mike Mainieri, Warren Bernhardt, David Spinozza, and Steve Gadd. The group performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, toured Japan, and released the album L'Image 2.0.
In 2010 Levin toured with HoBoLeMa, a group consisting of Allan Holdsworth on guitar, Levin on bass, and Pat Mastelotto and Terry Bozzio on drums. All their shows were completely improvised with no written music.
Following on from the Stick Man album, Levin joined up with fellow player Michael Bernier and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto to form the group Stick Men. The band released its first album Soup in 2010. Bernier left the group shortly after the release of Soup and was replaced by touch guitarist Markus Reuter in 2010. This lineup has continued with a touring and recording schedule, releasing the EP Absalom in 2011 and the group's second full album Open in June 2012. Another new album, titled Deep, is set to be released in the autumn 2012.[needs update]
Tony Levin's brother, Pete Levin, is a New York keyboardist and writer who is best known for his work with Gil Evans. In the 1970s, Tony and Pete collaborated with Steve Gadd in the comedy band The Clams. Levin has stated that some of the Clams' material may eventually be released. He[who?] also played on Jean-Pierre Ferland's Jaune album, which included hits "Le petit roi" and "Le chat du café des artistes".
Levin has played on about five hundred records as session musician or guest artist. The following records are those on which he is credited as a fully contributing band member or composer.
- Discipline (1981) — King Crimson
- Beat (1982) — King Crimson
- Three of a Perfect Pair (1984) — King Crimson
- Cloud About Mercury (1986) — David Torn
- Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (1989) - Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
- Spin 1ne 2wo (1993) — Spin 1ne 2wo
- THRAK (1995) — King Crimson
- World Diary (1995) — solo
- Black Light Syndrome (1997) — Bozzio Levin Stevens
- From the Caves of the Iron Mountain (1997) — Gorn, Levin, Marotta
- Liquid Tension Experiment (1998) — Liquid Tension Experiment
- Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (1998) — Bruford Levin Upper Extremities
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1999) — Liquid Tension Experiment
- Waters of Eden (2000) — solo
- Situation Dangerous (2000) — Bozzio Levin Stevens
- B.L.U.E. Nights (2000) — Bruford Levin Upper Extremities
- Pieces of the Sun (2002) — solo
- Double Espresso (2002) — solo
- Book of the Key (2005) — Anthony Curtis and Tony Levin
- Resonator (2006) — solo
- Stick Man (2007) — solo
- Spontaneous Combustion (2007) - Liquid Trio Experiment
- When the Keyboard Breaks: Live in Chicago (2009) - Liquid Trio Experiment 2
- L'Image 2.0 (2009) - L'Image
- Soup (2010) - Stick Men
- Absalom (2011) - Stick Men (EP)
- Levin Torn White (2011) - Tony Levin, David Torn, Alan White
- Open (2012) - Stick Men
- Deep - Stick Men (forthcoming autumn 2012)
- Ankeny, Jason (1946-06-06). "Tony Levin". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-07-16.
- "Levin's blog". Tonylevin.com. Retrieved 2011-07-16.
- "Pat Mastelotto 2013 interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Tonylevin.Com". Tonylevin.Com. Retrieved 2011-07-16.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Tony Levin|
- Official website
- Tony Levin audio interview on RundgrenRadio.com
- Tony Levin discography
- Interview mit Tony Levin auf Deutsch (German interview)
- Interview with Tony Levin in English
- Funk Fingers
- NS electric double bass
- Chapman Stick
- BBC Blast interview with Tony Levin
- TONY LEVIN World Diary reviews and MP3