Articles review on the net, revue d'articles sur la toile

Inscription : feeds, flux :
(Atom) Gabriel Real World News

21 avril 2006

In Your Eyes

This Week's Show: In Your Eyes

Musician and human rights activist
Peter Gabriel is empowering people to document human rights abuses in their own backyards and bring them to the world's attention. After achieving fame as a singer, Gabriel helped set up Witness, a Brooklyn-based organization that trains human rights advocates to use video cameras, provided by the group, to document abuses around the world. Their motto: 'See it, film it, change it.'

"It was clear that where there was footage, where there were photos, it was a great deal harder to bury stories,"
Gabriel told NOW. David Brancaccio spoke to Peter Gabriel on a recent trip to Washington D.C., where he was lobbying members of Congress to do more to end human rights abuses in Burma using Witness video as his weapon.

Human rights themes can be found in some of
Gabriel's earliest hits, such as the track "Biko", a homage to the anti-apartheid, South African activist Stephen Biko, who died in prison in 1977. Gabriel was enlisted by fellow musician Bono in 1985 for Amnesty International's human rights tour, which Gabriel describes as an amazing emotional and educational experience.

"One of the things that shocked me on that tour was that people could not only suffer … but that their stories could be really effectively denied, buried and forgotten,"
Gabriel said. Inspired by his father and his experiences with Amnesty International, Gabriel co-founded Witness, in New York, back in 1992.

Witness-sponsored videos have shined light on human rights abuses in over 60 countries on issues ranging from forced labor in
Burma to the neglect of juveniles held in California's prison system. And the videos have made a difference. After the California legislature viewed the Witness-back video "System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority," it introduced legislation to tackle some of the problems exposed.

Are we bearing enough witness to the world? Next time on NOW.

20 avril 2006

Tony Levin is ace of the bass

(And he can sing, too, in case you didn't know)

Maybe it's his distinctive look and bearing — the chrome dome and martial mustache that wouldn't be out of place on a Prussian officer, along with an onstage intensity that's forced many a vocalist to work that much harder for the spotlight. Or, perhaps it's his toy box of custom-crafted bass guitars and his vanguard virtuosity on the Chapman Stick, a device that appears more of a weapon than an instrument — one that can be plucked, slapped and bowed to produce a range of sounds limited solely by the globally grounded consciousness and intergalactic imagination of its master.

Whatever the reason, Tony Levin stands as a real pop music anomaly: the "sideman" as star-quality attraction in a field where the bass player has more often than not been the sole reference point of sanity on the stage (see the late John Entwistle). This month, the side-star shines once more, with a new CD ("Resonator," on the Narada label) and a new tour that returns the Tony Levin Band to The Saint in Asbury Park on Thursday.

Since his inauspicious recording debut on a 1962 disc by the Greater Boston Youth Orchestra, the sought-after studio man has backed many of the most stellar names in rock (John Lennon, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks and Pink Floyd, to name a few) as well as not-rock (Burt Bacharach, Cher, Karen Carpenter, Chuck Mangione and even the cast of "Sesame Street"). To followers of that exhilaratingly arty strain of rock known as progressive (or "prog"), the Levin legacy is rooted within his tenure with King Crimson, as well as his long recording and touring association with Peter Gabriel.

Two of Levin's bandmates from the Gabriel days, drummer Jerry Marotta and "Synergy" synthmeister Larry Fast, play prominent roles in Levin's current project. They're joined by Todd Rundgren band veteran Jesse Gress on guitar — as well as by the latest addition to the lineup, brother Pete Levin on organ and piano. With guest appearances by Crimson's Adrian Belew and Toto's Steve Lukather further seasoning the sonic stew, the "Resonator" disc spotlights a subset of Levin's skills that might surprise the casual fan — namely, eight of the 10 tracks are full-blown songs.

"Fashioning a vocal album wasn't the hard part; it was moving from a back-up vocalist — as I am with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson — to lead vocals," Levin said from his home in Woodstock, N. Y. "That's why the project took over a year . . . mostly I was improving my vocal technique." While a more vocally oriented project (with one notable exception being a furious take on the Khachaturian classic "Sabre Dance") might seem a deliberate departure from the band's calling-card strengths, the bassman emphasized that "calling it "songs' maybe implies a gentler album than it is . . . I think the music is still in the progressive rock vein that my last album (the live "Double Espresso') was. "I've introduced some deep ideas with the lyrics — often with some humor or irony — in a way that is, I hope, unique, and sounds like Tony Levin."

Given that each of Levin's solo and partnership projects carries its own distinct sonic stamp (the man has dabbled in jazz both traditional and transitional; traveled the world to record with folk musicians on nearly every continent, and made a very unique album inside a cave in the Catskills), the question naturally arises as to exactly what fans can expect to hear at The Saint stopover. According to Levin, it's a group-oriented set that not only draws from the group's recent works, but also includes tributes to King Crimson, Gabriel, Genesis and other cornerstones of the band's collective background.

"I put together my set based on the kind of shows I like to see," Levin explained. "I enjoy hearing new music, but also the familiar pieces I might know from a band. "And then there are the "surprises.' With four singers in the band, we can now do occasional barbershop quartets! And then there are the kazoos. I'd better leave it at that." Thursday's show represents an encore engagement for the artist who's gigged extensively at such Shore-area venues as Asbury Park's Convention Hall, Holmdel's PNC Bank Arts Center and Red Bank's Count Basie Theatre. "I've played the Shore with other groups too, from rehearsing there with Richie Sambora to playing with bar band Uncle Funk," added Levin. "It's well known to be home of serious rock fans, and an especially receptive place for progressive rock."

Culling his road-tested memory for a peculiarly Asbury anecdote, the globetrotting musical adventurer recalled "approaching the pier in Asbury Park, in a van with all of King Crimson in it, rolling the window for directions, and a rambunctious fan recognizing us and shouting, "Hey, are you guys — — — — psyched, or what!' "I don't think Robert (Fripp) and Bill (Bruford), the British contingent of the band, ever forgot that!"

TONY LEVIN "Resonator" Narada Jazz

Bassit Tony Levin's new release features "What Would Jimi Do?" a Hendrix tribute in which guitarist Jesse Gress nearly kisses the sky, followed by a rhythmically stampeding progressive rock version of Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance," complete with a Ventures-like surf guitar interlude. The former tune laments the sorry state of rock radio, while the latter flamboyantly underscores one of the more appealing things about Levin: He loves to indulge his offbeat enthusiasms.

Not that this comes as much of a surprise. Best known for his work with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, Levin has always gravitated toward the fringes of prog-rock and pop. But now he sounds more willing than ever to stretch out -- as a player, singer, composer and arranger.

Like guitarist and fellow traveler Adrian Belew, who has a fireworks cameo on "Throw the God a Bone," Levin has chops to spare and isn't shy about displaying them. Yet here his sense of whimsy is almost as evident as his low-end virtuosity on electric bass and Chapman Stick. Indeed, "Resonator" resonates with a playful spirit, thanks to a curious series of self-penned tunes, delightfully arranged vocal harmonies and the contrasts created by McCartneyesque piano ballads, orchestral weaves, funk romps and psychedelic flashbacks. Mind you, not all the tracks bear close scrutiny. At times, Levin's brand of wordplay is more silly than witty. But his eagerness to entertain listeners, not just dazzle them, is never in doubt.

Mike Joyce