TONY LEVIN, World Diary (CD)
Released on PapaBear Records, Tony Levin's label, in1995. - 6 panels eco-wallett with 20 pages booklet (not shrink-wrapped). The purchase includes instant download in WAV, FLAC, M4A and/or MP3-320 format. - Exclusive fulfillment by Horatio Nardini @ MoonJune Records.
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World Diary is Tony Levin's first solo CD, as you might expect from the bassist and Stick player with Peter Gabrie, King Crimson,Stick Men, and is an unusual project. World Diary presents instrumental duets, trios and more, recorded around the world with some fascinating musicians. This is not only an album of ambitious music and world class players, it is a document of two years on the road, of what can happen off stage, of hotels and houses, of trains and echoes. The performances, combined with Tony's diaries and photos, tell a story of a journey of musical fulfillment.
Tony performs with Shankar, violin and vocal, in a room in the Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg, duets with King Crimson colleague Bill Bruford at Bruford's house. Tony plays electric double bass in the Hotel Royal Monceau in Paris with Levon Minassian on doudouk. Others with whom he collaborates on the CD are: Ayub Ogada - nyatiti & vocal, Brian Yamakoshi - koto, Bendik - tenor sax, Nexus - a five man percussion ensemble, Manu Katche - drums, and Jerry Marotta - drums. In addition to Stick and electric upright, Tony also uses his patented Funk Fingers on the bass as the tour winds through Oslo, Toronto, Paris, and Bath.
Tony says, "Even though I was familiar with the playing of these wonderful musicians, I've been surprised - again - by the magic of how a great player can pour out his soul through his instrument. I strove to maintain an atmosphere where we could be free to create as we wished, and capture it all on tape. I think there's something interesting about recording in a hotel; each track, in a way, reflects where it was recorded. There's nothing slick about this music, and I like that."
With the freedom of not having to comply with a normal record company budget, Tony has designed an unusual package for his cd, using his hand-tinted b&w photos, in a cardboard container, devoid of plastic, which is reminiscent of old lp covers. The booklet inside contains b&w photos and Tony's diaries of the days of recording.
Bass Player magazine has said "Tony Levin is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative and admired bassists working today. " He has played on countless records since the 1960s, worked with Peter Gabriel since 1977, and is a core member of King Crimson. World Diary is his first solo offering.
1: Chasms, a duo with the great violinist Shankar, is really a quartet - Shankar plays his electric double violin and sings in his other-worldly Indian vocal style, while Levin plays both bass and guitar sides of the Chapman Stick. Recorded at the Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg on a rainy day, while both musicians passed a day off on the Peter Gabriel tour.
2: The Train, recorded at RealWorld Studios in Bath, England - not in the usual studio rooms, but in the "writers room" where the high speed London to Bath train roared by during a rundown. Ayub Ogada is here playing his nyatiti and singing while Tony plays his Music Man bass with the Funk Fingers. Later, Tony searched for a sample of the train to add back into the music - noted engineer Tchad Blake had the very train, on DAT, and generously donated it.
3: We Stand in Sapphire Silence. This trio features Brian Yamakoshi on koto, Levin on Stick, and Jerry Marotta on Taos Drums. Curious about the unique meeting of koto and stick, Brian and Tony met and recorded the track at a studio in Paris. Later, Jerry overdubbed his unique American Indian drum kit.
4: "Smoke" is only an excerpt of a longer and angular piece recorded in Oslo by Bendik on tenor sax, and Levin on stick. The two had played together previously in the group Steps Ahead. Tony flew into Oslo, hoping to travel to the fjords and record impressions of the beauty of the area. The trip wasn't possible, and the city was jammed - a night out at a local jazz club inspired this small sample of that flavor.
5: "Etude in the Key of Guildford" Bill Bruford, electonic percussion, and Levin on Stick have a long history together - not only as the rhythm section of King Crimson, but touring with Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe, where they did a duo section in each show. This study-like percussive piece is typical of the two.
6: "Espresso & the Bed of Nails," recorded in a Toronto studio, is about as unusual a track as you'll find anywhere. Nexus is a renowned 5 man percussion ensemble, noted for both their improvising and performance of modern classical percussion repertoire. What would come out of a meeting with the Stick? Of their myriad instruments, Tony favored a nail sculpture, played by John Wyre, and the only parameter put on this piece was that it end with that haunting sound. Later, Tony recorded his Gaggia espresso machine and cross/faded it into the music - hence the title.
7: "Mingled Roots." Levon Minassian and Tony became good friends while touring with Peter Gabriel (though they don't share a language!) and they recorded this music on doudouk and double bass in a hotel room in Paris. The title refers to their similar ancestry, to the intertwining musical lines of the piece, and to the photo Tony took of the doudouk and the bass bow.
8: "Nyatiti" again presents Ayub Ogada and Tony Levin from their session at RealWorld. The genesis of this piece was simply Ayub showing Tony the tuning of his nyatiti (a lute type instrument from Kenya.) David Botrill, the noted engineer, wisely rolled tape, and put up mikes to catch the musicians' feet stamping.
9: "Jewels" revisits Bruford and Levin, but this time Tony, wanting to challenge Bill, asked him to take the lead on his electronic percussion setup, while accompanied by chords on the Stick. Bruford met the challenge in this sweet ballad. Tony originally titled it "Jewels in the Verdegris Moss" but shortened it, reluctantly, after receiving many puzzled looks!
10: "La Tristesse Amoureuse de la Nuit" (A title that obviously wasn't shortened!) A unique blending of musical talents: Manu Katche on drums, and Levin on electric upright bass play a jazz-like background, Levin staying simple and Katche providing fireworks - while Levon Minassian soars above it on doudouk, using ancient modes from his native Armenia.
11: "Heat" This is another offering from Nexus and Tony. The massive percussion collection allows the players to go wherever the music takes them -- sonically through a jungle this time.
12: "I Cry to the Dolphined Sea" - Bendik on tenor and soprano sax, accompanied by Levin on Stick, and Jerry Marotta on drums. This differs from the other tracks on the cd in that Levin multi-layered four tracks of the Stick.
13: "The Sound of Goodbye" A poignant and magical meeting between Brian Yamakoshi's koto, and Levin's Stick. Tony's favorite track on the cd, it presents the two players creating as one.
released January 1, 2000
TONY LEVIN: bass guitar, Chapman stick and electric upright bass (all songs); espresso machine sample (6)
L. SHANKAR: electric violin and vocals (1)
AYUB OGADA: nyatiti and vocals, (2, 8)
TCHAD BLAKE: train sample (2)
BRIAN YAMAKOSHI: koto (3,13)
JERRY MAROTTA: drums (3, 12)
BENDIK: saxophones (4, 12)
BILL BRUFORD: electronic drums (5, 9)
NEXUS: percussion: (6, 11)
LEVON MINASSIAN: doudouk (7, 10)
MANU KATCHÊ: drums (10)