The Classic Union of the Masters :: Interview with Tony Levin

levinbrothersBy: Salim Ghazi Saeedi (*) for

I hadn’t the chance of listening to The Levin Brothers luxury union of the masters, Tony Levin, Pete Levin, Jeff “Siege” Siegel, David Spinozza, Erik Lawrence and Steven Gadd on the vinyl – as it is the way you should. That’s because I am far away in a nowhere spot of the planet just putting my ears on the internet line. But where a true piece of “classic” jazz resides but at the bottom of our hearts? Be sure to read the honest notes of the band on to feel the degree of intimacy these guys have created.

Two musicians playing together is a very compassionate act. How do you see this between two brothers – as in this exciting union?
Pete and I have played many times, of course, though our lives — sometimes jazz, but often rock. But it was really special to finally do an album that is based on our music together (as opposed to his albums, or mine) and we focused on the music we loved as kids, the ‘cool jazz’ of the 1950s.

Well, Jazz is all about experience, culture and life. How this union has affected you lives?
I’ve played different styles of jazz, and of course, rock, progressive rock, Classical and other styles… I think there are advantages to staying with one style through your musical life… but for me that wasn’t the path I wanted to go on.

Some find listening to Jazz, a mystical experience. Do you think music can play a part in spiritual advancement of the listener and composer?
Like many musicians, I am only aware of the music itself — the larger concepts that one can apply to it… those are for other, non-musicians to analyze.

Do you see the music as the ultimate medium of expression for yourself?
For sure. i’ve been playing most of my life, and still get a great deal of satisfaction from it, and from writing music.

Your “old school” approach toward this debut – as Pete puts it in your website – is nostalgic for many souls including you. What you have missed the most from those days? What you appreciate most about these days?
This style is about the songs — the solos are short, and melodic, as opposed to some forms of jazz that have long solos. And the songs themselves are melodic and hopefully memorable — the kind you go away humming to yourself. So it’s not as complex a jazz form as some styles that came before and after, but for me, it makes me feel good, and I think the fact that I remember all the jazz tunes from my childhood is a testament to how this music can stay part of your musical life.

Could you please share with our readers your experience of listening to luxury medium of vinyl?
Making this album a vinyl issue (in addition to CD) was a must for us — the ‘classic’ factor of the music, and of the two brothers uniting finally for an album… those things drew me to really want to put it in the most ‘classic’ form: an LP.

Do you see further collaboration in the Levin Brothers project?
For sure. We’ll keep making albums for as long as we can – this isn’t a band that will break up!

Where we can see the Levin Brothers live?
The first half of 2015 we are staying with US bookings. After that, we’ll see, but I have a lot of commitments to King Crimson through the year.

It was all my honor to talk to you in this intimate session. Please pass the last words of wisdom to our readers!
Thanks for caring about our music – we love making the music and it’s a big thrill when somebody pays attention to it.

(*) Salim Ghazi Saeedi is an Iranian composer and guitarist mostly known in avant-prog and rock in opposition genres.

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