Jan 11 2014

Andy Liotta – Monday Songs … It Is Just Great !

aliottaI have a line about Steven Wilson – the best musician that you will never have heard of. Meet another one. Andy Liotta. I had the good pleasure to be exposed to Andy’s recent album … ‘Monday Songs‘ – and loved it so much – I asked if we could do a short interview to help him promote his work. He agreed. Format as always – a set of questions that spring to my mind – and the artists responses in turn.

Enjoy – except – just one more thing – in case you hadn’t realised – i LOVE this album – and his influencer list – well l- what is not to love about XTC AND ‘The Dukes’ … oh – and The Beatles !

 

BTW – You Should Just Buy It – - Go Here.

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Oct 13 2013

Levin Minnermann Rudess – Review

LMR14 tracks of – well – let’s see.

Around about 6’20″ on track 14 – it all went down hill – for nearly a minute. I’ll get back to that soon.

I know – I’m a sucker. But the next album in the Levin * * series is out. (BTW – I have no inside track on this = but I am hoping / assuming / asking for Tony Levin to continue the theme of collaborating with great musicians he knows – oh – and he knows a LOT.)

A little over two years ago, I wrote this review on my first exposure to the ‘series’ – see I keep pushing in my own way … and well, suffice to say I loved it – then again – I am weird – and my taste is eclectic. That said even for me – LTW was hard to get into. Brilliant, true – but hard – and that was the theme of my review.

When I first heard the “ secret preview ” of LMR – it just blew me away. The complete sonic wizadry that was so apparent in LTW – was still in place – but now instantly accessible. Instantly !

You all know I am not a proper music reviewer – I can’t get into the blow by blow engineering of how it was produced – and though I play the guitar – I always go to great pains to insist that I am NOT a guitarist. So I am not even going to explore the musical side of the album – nowhere near, far too many other people more qualified than I to do that.

Suffice to say – just like L** (1) – you need to buy L** (2)
- but more quickly – they might run out !

Let’s break down the elements of the band.

Tony Levin – well duh – you know I am a fan – and if you want to read a 7 post review of an interview I did with him – click through and enjoy.

Marco Minnermann – seriously – the guy that Steven Wilson chose as his drummer on his last solo venture – OVER Gavin Harrison – yup – he is THAT good.

Jordan Rudess – you will know him from Dream Theatre – and whilst I am a big fan of the Progressive genre – have to say ‘DT’ do not sit at the top of my list – BUT Jordan Rudess – well – I am old enough to remember Rick Wakeman in his ‘Strawbs’ and ‘Yes’ days – and I would personally place ‘Jordan’ as the ‘Rick’  of the modern world. And if you haven’t listened to his solo work – and / or Liguid Tension Experiment (DT with a different Bass Player – Tony actually) – then you need to.

That alone has to be enough for you want to invest your dollars / pounds / yen in surely ?

But, while I am here – if you want to understand how different these guys can get – take a listen to LTE and DT back to back. RADICALLY different – and yet LTE is essentially DT with a different bass player – who says the Bass can’t affect a band ?

To me LMR provides a truly solid gateway into all these guys work = in all their various forms. Kind of like a sampler album – remeber those back in the day ? Except this is new. different. awesome and still opens up doors.

Sidenote

Personally – always a shame that artists cant be just that – artists. Why do they get so overly concerned with the brand – or maybe that is a different story.

Examples

Phil Collins : Brand X / Genesis

Steve Wilson : NO Man / P Tree / Bass Communion / Blackfield / Solo ….

Andy Partridge : XTC / Dukes of Stratosphear

Neil Hannon : Divine Comedy / The Duckworth Lewis Method

(see what I mean ….)

Seriously though – this reflects another problem of we – the music fan. We like our predictability – and heaven forbid that you meddle with what we expect. The problem has been around forever – just think about the shinola that The Beatles took for their explorations in the late 60s – though now we all accept them.

Anyway – sorry about the digression – back to the track.

Well 14 of them to be precise.

All excellent. All of them. Always a surprise. And so far on my 6th listen this weekend – and wil be in the car going back and forth to ‘the day job’ this week.

Oh – and to cycle back to that opening comment.

When I break down the music I really like – it tends to be without vocals. Probably because I can listen to someone who is not a very good guitarist, keyboard player – and still appreciate it. Not true with vocals. Bad vocals I hate – so I avoid vocals wherever I can – which I guess partly explains my love of the Progressive Genre, that tends to focus on instrumentation.

So – having achieved 13.5 tracks of music sans vocals – it caught me by surprise (opening of Dancing Feet aside).

But actually – they didn’t stay there – and the more I have revisited – I see the voices more as part of the sonic texture than ‘vocals’ per se. Think Thijs Van Leer and Focus. the voices that keep returning through Floyd and Tree,  that is how you have to think of them. Well – I do anyway.

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Oct 13 2013

Levin Minnermann Rudess – Part Seven

tlevin

The final part of the series of my interview with the amazing Tony Levin.

The Music Industry of the Future

JP : Dead, Different, Changed, Massive Opportunity ? How do you feel about the future of Music in the context of ‘the music industry’.

TL : I wish I was one of those guys who knows where things are headed. Like most of my musician friends, I’m just on the ride, trying to figure out what to do next. The good thing is, we who play music, have the immense pleasure of making our music, (hopefully doing it the way we want) and nobody can take that away from us, regardless of whether it makes a lot of money.

I think it’s an ever-changing field. There will always be clever groups who do the right moves at the right time, and find emerging markets. And there will always be lots of folks making darn good music, but maybe struggling a bit to make a living from the music.

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Sep 23 2013

Levin Minnemann Rudess – Part Six

tlevin

Music Of The Future

I have a friend who runs one of the School of Rock Franchises in Wichita – how could he best involve you and artists like you to be involved in motivating kids ?

I dont’ have much good advice for young players – the fact is, I’m more of a student than a teacher. I look at each experience as a way to learn to be a better musician, not as a way to teach what I know. So I pretty much avoid clinics and situations where I’m supposed to be the guy who knows how it should be done — I feel more like a guy who wants to learn more ways it can be done. (And, some young players do amazing things, that I can learn from.)

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Sep 08 2013

Levin Minnemann Rudess – Part Five

tlevin

Continuing the series of my interview with the amazing Tony Levin. Slightly different format – basically – the bold headlines are my questions – the main copy are the words of Tony in response to the questions.

Music As A Performer

What traits constitute a great musician ?

A good question – I hadn’t thought about that. I guess, to me, the really great players are projecting something that’s deep inside themselves — the instrument is only the vehicle that brings it from them to you. And there’s always a fascination, when you’re in the presence of someone who is completely one with their instrument – we’re drawn to watching and listening to them, though we may not be sure why – in a way we are seeing someone open up their soul to us, and we connect with them in a way that languages don’t express. From their playing, we learn something about life that words can’t express.

Which bass players out there do you admire ?

A lot of bass players are doing wonderful things. Some that I particularly admire: Carles Benevent, Esperanza Spalding, Dan Rathbun, Victor Wooten of course. Pino Paladino, Hutch Hutchinson, Tina Weymouth, John Wetton, Chris Squire, Julie Slick.

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Sep 01 2013

Levin Minnemann Rudess – Part Four

tlevin Chapter Four in my interview series with Tony Levin. This section investigates touring potential – I see good news  possibly !

On Touring ….

JP: It is apparent from www.PapaBear.com that you have a HEAVY tour schedule – between guesting with other players and of course The Stick Men. Is there any chance we would ever see you do a ‘Levin with special guests’ series ?

TL : Well, you never know what’s going to happen next, in this music business. I love playing live, but I have no plans to tour with a band under my name in the near future. Touring with Stick Men, Peter Gabriel, the Crimson ProjeKct, L’Image, and some other bands that come up, keeps me pretty satisfied. If King Crimson were to raise it’s head and do some touring, I’d happily add that to the list — and there is always the hope of other good musical groups taking it out on the road – there even could be something with LMR, but not in the near future.


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Aug 28 2013

Levin Minnemann Rudess – Part Three

tlevin The third part of my interview series with Tony Levin. This section is takes a look back at any regrets he might have had. True to a great artist – none. Always looking to the future and introducing new musicians into the fold.

JP : Having appeared on over 500 albums 

- which would you most like to be remembered for, and why?

- what was your least favorite project – and why ?

- what work are you most proud of ?

TL : I don’t spend time thinking back over what I’ve done — like most people, and certainly most musicians, I’m usually focussed on what project or band I’m doing currently, with a little attention to what’s coming after that. So, I don’t have a list in my mind of what albums I’ve played on, let alone my favorites or least favorites – or what recognition I got or didn’t get.

I feel I’ve been very lucky to be a part of some great recordings — some that became famous, some that didn’t have many sales at all. The reward for me was to make music with a talented artist and to play with great musicians – hopefully learning something from each experience, but certainly enjoying the music, regardless of the success of the album.

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Aug 22 2013

Levin Minnemann Rudess – Part Two

tlevinPart Two of The Interview Series with Tony Levin.

In this chapter, I wanted to explore how the collaboration with Jordan Rudess and Marco Minnermann came about, how Tony felt it differed to the previous collaboration – of which I am a GREAT fan. This then will lay the foundation for the rest of the series …

JP : The new Levin Minnemann Rudess album looks like it will be easier to get into than your previous collaboration – was this a planned strategy ?

TL : I think the LTW album was very special and a good effort from us – we knew it wasn’t very ‘accessible’ and, trust me, it was challenging for us players as well as the listeners. Sometimes when you go off of familiar territory there can be a reward, and expanding your musical territory is always worth trying.

The LMR album is quite different, not by intending to be different, it’s just a separate group of players, and the recording wasn’t planned or done the same way. LTW was instigated from improvising – the ‘composition’ aspect came later. For LMR we wrote pieces – no jamming (except for a video clip that’s on the Deluxe Edition DVD.) Then we filled in the compositions, and tried to have the character of our playing come out in them.

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Aug 19 2013

Levin Minnemann Rudess

The first in a series of posts. This one specifically to provide context. Go on. Take a listen.

Delighted to report that Mr Tony Levin has granted me access to his mind – in answer to some questions I had. Still distilling – and over the next few posts – will reveal the enlightenment.

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Apr 27 2013

Context Matters

JP-RangaswamiAnother blinding post from JP

He starts off with Music, transitions into the context of music – disappears into album art – talking of which if you want to see two master modern musicians waxing lyrical on album art – ONE DAY check out Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt duelling over great album covers in Akerfeldts album collection. (This isn’t that link – but I love how often the place themselves in front of album covers to talk about their music.)

His (JPs) point on album covers and packaging is spot on even of itself – I for one love the album art of the past and mourn it’s passing …. But I also believe that packaging continues to be one avenue that musicians can use to differentiate and offer something special to their listeners, fans, customers …. But that’s another story.

From then he moves into the death of the artist Storm Thorgerson – another loss of a master – and whilst talking of packaging, wanders over to David Byrne’s book How Music Works - and yes I do need to go get that one – looks fascinating.

Not connected to the Wired Article he wrote back in 2007 – and which my good buddy John Parker brought to my attention through this post on our Just Good Music blog. (And yes – far too many JPs !) – but that man Byrne does think a LOT about music. Love It.

And then from there, JP moves onto the point of his story – that indeed Context Matters. Well – of course it does – but we do seem to forget. Still – don’t take my word for it – pop over to JP’s site now and read it all … and if nothing else – get to the last 4 paragraphs.

That’s All.

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