Levin, Tony - Waters Of Eden

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Narada
Catalog Number: 49132
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:10:00

Those expecting something on the order of King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment, or Peter Gabriel will be surprised to find that Tony Levin's music doesn't get anywhere near the first two, and except for some percussion during "Pillar Of Fire," doesn't come close to Peter Gabriel either. Waters Of Eden is a collection of tracks that range from jazz to world. There's an air of familiarity about them beyond that I've been listening to the disk over and over. There are occasions during various parts of the album when I think of Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue." Somewhere in the back of my mind, I am recalling that the piano that Warren Bernhardt plays here on "Boulevard Of Dreams," a 1925 Steinway at Carla Bley's studio, is (or is the same as) the one on which Gershwin composed "Rhapsody In Blue." But now, for the life of me, I can't find that reference. That "Boulevard" uses similar tone colours bears out at least that there are sonic similarities. This is a beautiful piece of music, gentle, expressive - Levin on bass and Bernhardt on piano. This is the "late at the nightclub" track; only a few patrons remain, seated at the bar and staring into their warm brandies. The rest of the band have gone back stage, leaving only the bassist and the pianist to duet somewhat melancholy but vaguely hopeful.

Melancholy and reflective is how one would also describe "Opal Road." The opening notes reminded me of a slowed-down "A Summer Place." It has that end of summer, almost fall feel about it - early September has arrived, people are leaving their summer homes?heading back to the harsh city. It is dusk and the ribbon of highway shimmers in the evening light.

In contrast to those two pieces is "Pillar Of Fire" - one part world music with its warm, heavy, rhythmic percussion (Jerry Marotta), one part jazz with a stunning guitar solo courtesy Jeff Pevar. Also joining Levin on bass and upright bass is Larry Fast on synths, who, like Marotta is a veteran from Levin's days with Peter Gabriel. Myself, I thought of Suspended Memories (Steve Roach, Jorge Reyes and Suso Saiz) and James Reynold's "The Temple" (from The Mind's Eye, the soundtrack to the first of the computer animation series of videos).

Unlike Levin's work with Liquid Tension, he is allowed the space to breathe; allowing his basses to be more forward in the mix, his warm notes stretch out, exploring ideas. The Bozzio, Levin, Stevens project is probably the closest to this, though the takes the softer route more often. There were a few opportunities with LTE, but the goal there was hyperactive energy, roller-coaster arrangements. As impressive as Levin's work with LTE was, almost everything goes by so fast that you don't get the time to contemplate a note or phrase. There are moments during "Utopia," which closes the album, that are so beautiful and moving, down to both Levin's bass and to the soaring leads of Pevar. Larry Fast's atmospheric synth washes carry everything along, giving the stringed instruments the breeze on which to travel.

"Bone & Flesh" starts out darkly mysterious, with Levin on cello, Fast on synth, Steve Gorn on bansuri flute, David Torn on oud, guitar and loops, and Marotta on drums. Swirling eddies of sound, hinting at the loping rhythm that hits halfway through the song, which has a strong Celtic feel to it. This starts out the album on a high note, bounding and dancing, giving each of the performers the spotlight to do a little soloing. The oud sounds a little dry to me, but that is the only minus on this whole album.

"Belle" is a duet between Tony and his brother Pete, in tribute to their mother Belle, carrying on a tradition started in their youth for their mother's birthday. Levin writes in the liner notes, "In those days it was Pete on French horn, me on piano, playing Saint Sa?ns or Debussy."

My favourites here are the dark "Waters Of Eden," which features the California Guitar Trio and David Sancious; the sweet "Icarus," with David Sancious on virtual soprano (a keyboard instrument, actually, that sounds a lot warmer than a traditional soprano sax) and synths, plus the ones mentioned above. Hmm?that leaves out "Gecko Walk," except this is the most upbeat track on the album and would be considered contemporary jazz (note: not smooth jazz). Another great tune.

This is a beautiful album and I can't recommend it enough

Bone & Flesh (6:43) / Waters Of Eden (4:50) / Icarus (5:34) / Gecko Walk (5:01) / Belle (4:01) / Pillar Of Fire (6:42) / Boulevard Of Dreams (6:46) / Opal Road (6:22) / Utopia (7:58)

Tony Levin - cello, bass, upright bass
Jerry Marotta - drums
Larry Fast - synths (1, 4, 6, 8, 9)
Jeff Pevar - guitar (3, 4, 6, 8, 9)
Steve Gorn - bansuri flute (1, 8)
David Torn - guitar, loops, oud, and drum processing (1, 4)
David Sancious - piano, synth, and virtual soprano (2, 3)
Pete Levin - synth (5)
Warren Bernhardt (7)

World Diary
From The Caves Of The Iron Mountain
Bruford Levin Upper Extremities - Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (1998)
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment (1998)
Bozzio Levin Stevens - Black Light Syndrome (1998)
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1999)
Bruford Levin Upper Extremities - B.L.U.E Nights (2000)
Waters Of Eden (2000)
Pieces Of The Sun (2002)
Double Espresso (2002)
Resonator (2006)

Complete discography at www.tonylevin.com

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: June 3rd 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.tonylevin.com
Hits: 1013
Language: english


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