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17 mai 2006

Levin rings true with ‘Resonator’

If the name Tony Levin doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the bass player -- exceedingly tall, always bald -- who has worked with artists such as Peter Gabriel, John Lennon, Paul Simon and King Crimson, to name just a few. Stepping out for “Resonator,” his fifth solo release, Levin mines a few areas that have not made an appearance on his previous outings. But no matter what direction he follows, his work is always adventurous, spontaneous, and totally enjoyable.

Although Levin’s bass playing is the reason this CD even exists, the entire band is given room to show off. And despite the fact that his voice can certainly take a little time to get used to, Levin has settled into a groove with his band consisting of brother Peter Levin and Larry Fast (keyboards), Jerry Marotta (drums), and Jesse Gress (guitars). Adrian Belew and Steve Lukather (Toto) also make guest appearances, most notably on Lukather’s blinding guitar solo on “Utopia,” the song from 2002’s “Pieces Of The Sun” that typically ended Levin’s concerts.

The moods on “Resonator” stretch from the stark bass/vocal performance on “Places To Go” to the piano jazz of “Beyond My Reach,” and the dissonant thrum of “Shadowlands.” Levin and company even take a stab at the classical standard “Sabre Dance,” infusing the melody with a stomping beat that could be used as the soundtrack for an angry horde of invading marauders.

It’s not too hard to figure what a song titled “What Would Jimi Do?” is going to sound like. Jesse Gress plays off of Levin’s Chapman Stick in a way that would put a smile on Jimi’s mug. In recent interviews, Levin has called the song “a reminder to try to be as open to new musical ideas as Jimi Hendrix was.” Mission accomplished.

The music on “Resonator” is certainly all over the map, but at the end of the day, Tony Levin has assembled a weird, yet ultimately rewarding new release. It’s sure to resonate with the rest of pack on the charts.

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