Philadelphia jazz legend and ESP-Disk recording artist Elliott Levin plays the saxophone and the flute. He's also an abstract poet and often combines poetry and music during his performances.
Elliott Levin has toured and recorded with Cecil Taylor and The Arkestra's Tyrone Hill and Marshal Allen, to name a few.
The picture on the right shows Elliott (on sax) with Eric Slick (on
drums) and Dave Dreiwitz (on bass) on stage in 2007 somewhere.
Elliott Levin performed at the 2008 edition of the Zappanale festival.
|elliott levin quartet:
the motion of emotion
(1998, cd, usa, cimp #153)
& tyrone hill quartet: a fine intensity
(1999, cd, usa, cimp #200)
& elliott levin quartet: soul-etude
(2000, cd, usa, cimp #206)
|levin, bradford & preston:
(2001, cdr, usa, brain records)
|don preston's akashic
ensemble: the inner realities of evolution
(2003, cd, usa, brain records br016) - feat. bunk gardner & andré cholmondeley
- marshall allen - tyrone hill quintet: opportunities
(2003, cd, usa, cimp #276)
the black lodge
(2009, mp3-dvd, ger, arf society) - incl. various artists playing frank zappa compositions
and the black lodge ensemble: s/t
2008 08 07 - european performces this week
in TRIOs with bassist JAIR-ROHM PARKER WELLS:
2008/08/09 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells -
concert 'Glenn Miller Cafe', Stockholm (w/ Peeter Uuskyla-drums)
2008/08/10 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells -
concert 'The Jester @ Cross Kings', London (w/ Tony Bianco-
2008/08/12 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells -
concert 'The Klinker @ The Vortex Jazz Club', London
2008/08/14 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells -
concert 'AcudSession', Berlin (w/ Klaus Kugel- drums)
2008/08/15 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells -
concert 'The Black Box', Berlin (w/ Kugel)
2008/08/16 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells - concert
Festival", Bad Doberan (w/ Kugel)
2008/08/17 Elliott Levin / Jair-ROhm Parker Wells - concert '420
Cafe 420', Amsterdam (w/ JOHN SINCLAIR)
2007 07 - a couple of weeks to go until the Zappanale festival
and Elliott Levin was kind enough to answer a couple of my questions
UniMuta: At the
Zappanale festival, a number of bands will only be playing the music of Frank
Zappa. Are you familiar with Frank Zappa's music?
I first saw THE MOTHERS live at The
Atlantic City Rock Festival in 1969 (it was
a week or so before WOODSTOCK- where Zappa did not play)... I believe a
member(s) of the band may have been ill, or missing, so there was somewhat of a
jam with some members from CANNED HEAT. I
believe they played one long tune- "King Kong", and then they cut the
set short, because, as Zappa explained, they had to make way for the
"heavies" - (referring to Janis Joplin, who was following them).
I saw them again at the legendary
"Mother's Day" concert at The Academy of Music in Phila.- this was the
Flo & Eddie band- also I think with Aynsley Dunbar on drums (as 2nd
drummer)...this was a great event at that time
for the modern music scene in Philadelphia.
The last live show I remember was with Jean-Luc
Ponty, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, etc. at The Spectrum in Phila. MAHAVISHNU
ORCHESTRA opened- who was certainly one of my favorite bands at the time-
dressed all in white, and came out smoking.
Zappa's band came out- similarly dressed in all-white, and to my amazement started at the peak level of where Mahavishnu left off- and TOOK OFF from there! Not that I had to be sold, but this solidified my impression of Zappa as a phenomenal instrumentalist/improviser.
My first recordings I heard - in high
school in the late '60's - were FREAK OUT and ABSOLUTELY FREE.
They had a profound effect on me. Then I was turned on to Beefheart's
TROUT MASK REPLICA. That did it. I got a copy in the mail (I believe for 99
cents) of "ZAPPED" - a sampler of the Straight/Bizarre artists. I
loved pretty much everything on the album.
Finally - I think it was the summer of '68
or '69- I hitchhiked from Phila. - to LA- with the express purpose of trying to
find Capt Beefheart and/or Frank- with 2 friends (both guitarists). We were
repeatedly told when we got there that The Capt. was in seclusion somewhere up
in Redwood country. So we proceeded
to walk the streets of Laurel Canyon to look for the Zappa abode. It wasn't long before someone pointed us in the direction of
a parked Jaguar, and was told if we rang the doorbell behind it, we'd find our
man. I was 15 at the time, and just
really starting to learn to play at a very beginning level...but I was becoming
obsessed. Sure enough, Mr. Zappa
himself answered the door- and the 3 of us were somewhat shocked, and lost for
words. We finally got it together to tell him that we just hitch-hiked frm
Phila. in hopes of joining his band. He
politely informed us that he only conducted auditions at his business office (in
Hollywood) and didn't conduct business at his home...With nothing left to
say...that was the extent of my meeting with FZ.
However, I have had the pleasure and honor
to play and record- many years later- with the great DON PRESTON- in the Akashic
Ensemble; as well as in a trio with the great trumpeter BOBBY BRADFORD, as well
as PROJECT OBJECT and other situations.
UniMuta: Your list
of performances and your discography is very impressive, ranging from
collaborations with The Arkestra's Tyrone Hill and Marshal Allen, to poetry
What can we expect at the Zappanale Festival?
I was originally invited to perform with my
band NEW GHOST (ESP-Disk #4030), but because of financial limitations, etc. it
was not possible to bring this quartet to Europe. So I decided to use the
invitation, to help put together a tour with my friend- bassist JAIR-ROHM PARKER
WELLS (originally from the US, but a longtime resident of Stockholm)- who I knew
through guitarist/engineer BOB MUSSO, and the band MACHINE GUN.
We are using different drummers for different performances- and for our German shows (in Berlin on Aug. 14,15) and for the Zappanale set( on the 16th)- we will use drummer KLAUS KUGEL.
We all have strong backgrounds in
"free improvised" music, so this will be a good part of our set.
Zappa was known largely for his compositions and lyrics, but for me his
sense of freedom and improvisation was what had a big influence on me.
As poet/spoken word performer- this is also an integral part of my set.
I have had considerable experience playing
with members of The SCHOOL OF ROCK in Phila., and if time and schedules permit,
we may do a collaboration on at least one Zappa piece.
UniMuta: You have
performed all over the world. Do you find the time to get an impression of the
venue, city or country where you are playing? What are your fondest memories?
One of the great things about playing music is getting to travel around the world. I always try to get out and experience the city, country, etc. of where I am playing in whatever ways I can. I travelled on the road for 11 years with Philly R & B legends- HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUENOTES. I rarely stayed in my hotel room long- I always went out to jams , parties, or just walked the streets of cities all over the world- and was eventually able to make contacts for my own gigs- even though in a somewhat different genre. I've also had opportunites to tour with the great CECIL TAYLOR (a week in Berlin was documented on 2 FMP CDs -"The Light Of Corona", and "Almeda"). Playing with him at the Skopje Jazz Festival several years ago (on midnight of my birthday- Oct. 23) where we were announced as the replacement for the departing UN troops- was really something!
newsflash: the Jair-Rohm Parker Wells Trio features Elliott Levin on tenor sax, Jair-Rohm Parker Wells on bass and Eric Slick on drums. They have a download-only album out on the Ayler label. The release is called "Brotherly Love in Philidelphia".
picture by Kilissa
zappanale festival -- 2 a.m., late on Saturday night (or very early on Sunday morning), Stanley Jason Zappa and Elliott Levin got on stage for some high enerygy free jazz.