Tony Levin – international man of myth-stories…

Went up to Hitchin to see/hear Tony Levin play and talk this evening. I’ve met Tony a number of times (the first being when I interviewed him for Bassist magazine back in the late 90s, and was introduced to the ideas behind the free improv of the King Crimson crowd by him and Trey Gunn, which directly shaped the ideas for the Recycle Collective so many years later…)

Anyway, it was lovely to see Tony and catch up a little without the din of NAMM or some aftershow party going on, and was even better to hear him talk about his career, his music and the people he’s played with. There’s this assumption that bass clinics are all about clever playing, but there are certain guys – Tony, Lee Sklar, Anthony Jackson, Chuck Rainey, and a bunch of others, who have so much experience, have seen so much – and no doubt made lots of mistakes along the way – that hearing them speak is of at least as much value as hearing them play. In Tony’s case, he’s also a fascinating composer, so it’s great that he played a couple of things, as well as demonstrating some Peter Gabriel lines, but hearing him talk about what happens on sessions, what it’s like working with certain people etc. – it’s an insight into the workings of the industry that few of the people there would get on a regular basis. All in all a fab evening, and an audience full of old friends, acquaintances and audience members, with quite a few people coming up and saying they’d seen me play with Michael the last couple of times he was over… all good stuff.

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