You may have just seen him with King Crimson. (Or seen him with Peter Gabriel a couple of years back or many various outfits over the years.) Well, Brookline native and bassist extraordinaire Tony Levin is back in town and prog-rock ‘n’ jazz heads have quite a night for them in store at the Regent Theatre in Arlington Tuesday Oct. 21 with Stick Men. We had an email chat with Levin about what’s up and what’s to come.
JSInk: You’ve been in so many different ensembles over the years. What kind of pleasure to you get in collaborating with so many and varied artists?
Levin: Double pleasure. Of course it’s great playing music with great players – it’s FUN. But also, I’ve found through the years I can learn a lot from excellent players, whatever their instrument, which I can apply to my own playing. So it’s fun and it’s a going to school experience too.
You’ve pioneered the stick bass sound. I recently interview Les Claypool and he was giving you major props for him doing what he does. Can you talk about how that style developed and what it’s done for you, which, in my book, makes you stand out as one rock (or prog-rock’s) preeminent bassists. And using the bass as another lead instrument.
I don’t feel I necessarily use the bass as a lead instrument… I certainly don’t intend to do that – but I enjoy lending bass parts to a song or composition that hopefully make it a better piece. If that means being really simple, I do that. If it seems to call for some action in the low end, I’ll try that. What the Chapman Stick brought to me is another option, sonically and in a percussive way, that I can bring, as a tool, to the encounter with new music. I found especially in the progressive music of Peter Gabriel, and King Crimson – which seems to be the ideal setting for new and unusual approaches, that the Stick fit in perfectly.
I’m very lucky to be involved in a number of musical situations that challenge me and give me a lot of satisfaction. The band I tour with most is Stick Men, our little trio (with Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto and touch guitarist Markus Reuter) is able to play all over because we have a small lineup and little equipment. Our progressive music is also forward thinking, so it’s great challenge. Then I tour with Peter Gabriel when he wants to do some concerts – this year there will have been two segments, and hopefully more in the future. Crimson re-awakening has made things even better, so it’s been a full year of wonderful music. Next year, we’ll see what pans out, but for sure I’ll also be touring with my brother Pete, playing jazz clubs to follow up on our new release called “Levin Brothers.”
Tickets: $30 and $50. Show: 7:30.
7 Medford Street, Arlington, 781- 646-4849