Tony Levin

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Fans know Tony Levin primarily as the bassist for King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, but his career has always been far more complex than that -- he's played all over the world with musicians from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and given his status as both a bass virtuoso and as one of the very few players of the Chapman Stick (a 12-stringed instrument designed to be played simultaneously as a bass and as a guitar), he's constantly in demand. This album was the first release on his own Papa Bear label, and it documents a number of privately recorded collaborations and experimental jam sessions with various musicians recorded during his travels around the world. The results vary significantly in style and tone, but the quality is consistently high. The album opens with a lovely duo improvisation between Levin (on Stick) and Indian violinist L.Shankar (on his trademark double-necked electric violin) and proceeds through similar collaborations with the Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada, koto player Brian Yamakoshi, duduk player Levon Minassian and others. Perhaps the most lovely piece is "We Stand in Sapphire Silence," an improvisation between Levin, Yamakoshi and drummer Jerry Marotta, on which Levin and Yamakoshi take turns setting the mood. There's an overall sweetness of spirit in evidence here that is, ultimately, almost as rewarding as the music itself. Wonderful.

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