Pete Levinís 2008 CD release CERTIFIED
ORGANIC continues to push the envelope of the
traditional organ trio. On top of the grooves laid down by
former Hot Tuna drummer Harvey Sorgen and Peteís organ
bass, four veteran guitarists stretch out on the album:
ubiquitous New York session guitarist John Cariddi (Steve
Marcus, Patti Austin, Ricki Lee Jones), the legendary Joe
Beck (Miles Davis, Gil Evans, David Sanborn), Mike
DeMicco (Dave Brubeck, Jack DeJohnette), and rocker Jesse
Gress (Todd Rundgren, Tony Levin Band). Pete knows how to
feature his sidemen, but when itís time for the Hammond to take
charge, he does just that. In addition, the organís bass is
mixed up front as an equal element. This is not your fatherís
organ trio! The set rocks and grooves hard - not a hint of
Smooth Jazz in sight.
In a diverse music career spanning three
decades, the New York based keyboardist/arranger has performed
and recorded with hundreds of Jazz and Pop artists - including
Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Lenny
White, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Robbie Robertson and John
Scofield - receiving critical accolades for his work during a 15
year association with the legendary Gil Evans, and his 8 year
stint with the late Jimmy Giuffre.
While filling the French Horn chair with the
Gil Evans Orchestra in the 70s, Levin brought a Moog Synthesizer
to a gig at New York's Village Vanguard. Already known as a
synthesizer specialist, Pete was at the vanguard of that
technology. Levin's role was permanently changed as the band
transformed itself into the electric/acoustic hybrid ensemble
that captivated audiences worldwide for years, winning two
Grammy∆ awards along the way.
A veteran session and live keyboardist, Levin
has also created electronic realizations for hundreds of TV
commercials, dramatic series and feature films, including
MISSING IN ACTION, LEAN ON ME, SILVER BULLET, RED SCORPION, THE
COLOR OF MONEY, MANIAC, SPIN CITY, AMERICA'S MOST WANTED and
STAR TREK. In a dizzying array of unrelated commissions, Levin
composed orchestral scores for the feature film ZELIMO and for a
stage production of THE DYBBUK, composed the anthem for the 1992
United Nations Earth summit, THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS,
performing it twice for the General Assembly, and created the
official military band arrangement of the U.S. Infantry song.
But Levin, whose wry sense of humor is never
far from the surface, reveals that his all time favorite
recording session produced the top-40 hit single CLOSE TO YOU by
THE CLAMS, a Spike Jones tribute band formed with his brother,
bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), drummer Steve
Gadd (Eric Clapton, Paul Simon) and Grammy∆ winning recording
engineer Dixon Van Winkle (Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra).
Thirty years later the recording is still a cult classic.
In 1990, Levin signed with Gramavision to
release his first solo jazz album, PARTY IN THE BASEMENT,
followed by SOLITARY MAN in 1991. Collaborating with drummer
Danny Gottlieb, Pete released THE NEW AGE OF CHRISTMAS on
Atlantic and MASTERS IN THIS HALL for Gramavision. In the years
following, he released six solo and collaboration albums for
Alternate Mode Productions.
In 2007, Pete decided to revisit his roots
and his favorite keyboard instrument, the Hammond Organ,
releasing DEACON BLUES on the Motťma label. Heíd been playing
Hammond for years, but had never recorded as a bandleader in the
organ trio format.
With CERTIFIED ORGANIC in 2008, Peteís
original compositions explore the bonds between Jazz and Funk -
dark with hard driving grooves. But he also includes two of his
straight-ahead pieces, with guitarist Mike DeMicco joining him
for WHEN I WAS YOUNG, a tune they played together with the
Brubeck Brothers Quartet, and Joe Beck sitting in for THE FACE
IN THE MIRROR, which Pete wrote and recorded for trumpeter Lew
In addition to Peteís originals, the set
includes some cover songs that you wouldn't expect to hear with
this instrumentation, notably Moacir Santosís classic NANA, and
Jaco Pastoriusís signature TEEN TOWN.
Two tracks feature burning sax solos by
Erik Lawrence, the son of saxophonist Arnie Lawrence, with
whom Pete used to work. Pete and Erik tear it up trading 8ís on
TEEN TOWN. In contrast, thereís Peteís arrangement of a Gil
Evans classic piece, WHERE FLAMINGOS FLY, featuring a poignant
Joe Beck solo.
Pete currently tours with a high-energy organ
trio with guitarist John Cariddi and drummer Harvey Sorgen.