This 10 song anthology special
Japanese import from the prestigious P-Vine label focuses on the
up-tempo, funkier & wilder grooves from the last three RLWK
Levtron.com releases, 'Live', 'Green
Eyed Soul' and 'Finding My Way'. So
grab a copy, put on your dancin' shoes & party on!
Levy interview with Ko Enomoto of P-Vine
Why did you decide to start up Levtron.com?
LEV: After many years of working with
many wonderful people and availed of many wonderful learning opportunities
and partnerships, but also some disappointments here and there,
all balanced out, I felt my talents and energy would be best served
by focusing on my music, on my own terms, free of any 'encumbrances'.
Also, I like my new boss, a whole lot better now!
Which would be the most favorite album of all the albums you have
made so far, if you had to choose?
LEV: This one and the next one! It's all
about growing musically and spiritually. I feel I must concentrate,
focusing forward on what we're working on now and not so much,
looking back. Each one, I tried to do my 100% best, at the time.
I hope people check them out and enjoy them all.
We heard that the first instrument you played was Clarinet, but
why did you
start playing the organ?
LEV: Well, first of all, I was never a
good clarinetist, unless you like 'squeaking'. When I was 15,
I saw Ray Charles with Billy Preston in concert, then a month
later I saw Jimmy Smith, Bro' Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes. I
was foolish enough to believe I could play almost as good as them,
[although I just hope I play the best I can play as myself]. I
was also foolish enough not to foresee I'd be lugging a 400 pound
Hammond organ around everywhere the rest of my life!
How did you get recognized by the artists like Albert King and
BB King? And what do you think you learned from those artists?
LEV: Albert heard my teenage band play
on some local dates here in Boston when we opened for him back
in 1968. He fired his band on the spot, and hired my drummer and
me. B.B. heard me playing with Albert and offered me $50 more
a week and an opportunity to tour with him on the Rolling Stones
tour in 1969. What would you do? I stayed with BB for seven years!
Albert taught me to be 'effective' in everything you play. I learned
professionalism and grace from BB.
With Roomful of Blues, you have worked with many big artists such
as Eddy "Cleanhead" Vinson. Is there any interesting
episode in playing with those artists?
LEV: The late Earl King comes most to
mind. He was a great songwriter with very clever lyrics, harmonies
and chord changes. I learned a lot from him. He was a great storyteller.
We spent many great times together, drinking coffee [sometimes
Bourbon], telling jokes and stories, staying up all night, then
going to the studio to cut the next day, then sneaking off to
the race track in New Orleans, 2-3 days in a row.
When it comes to playing, what do you focus on most? In other
words, what aspect of playing do you pay most attention to?
LEV: I'd say emotion and energy, rhythm
& melody. Conveying the 'feel'. That said; it all has to come
together and sound cool.
I feel that your music always has a sense of humor in addition
to beautiful melodies and strong rhythms. Where do you think that
sense of humor came from?
LEV: Maybe some from Earl King? He always
had some comical twists and ironies in his songs. Also, my Grandfather
was a great Yiddish storyteller and practical joker as well as
a serious scholar. He used to make me laugh with many heartwarming
stories, which always had a valuable 'life lesson' as well. I
too, enjoy giving people happy surprises and helping them forget
the daily burdens of life through laughter. It sure beats crying
Can you tell us how the Wild Kingdom started and why did you name
the group "Wild Kingdom"?
LEV: My first recording project under
that name was with the members of Roomful of Blues and the Fabulous
Thunderbirds. We were all young, pretty wild and lived like kings.
Do you listen to or have you listened to a lot of Prestige, Bluenote,
or Atlantic releases?
LEV: Yes, indeed! I have close to 20,000
recordings in my collection of 45's, LPs & Cds. I listen to
most everything except Opera, Hillbilly and Heavy Metal rock.
Don't forget Creed Taylor on Verve & CTI, Willie Mitchell
and Hi records, as well as Stax. King, Chess, Kent & Impulse
too! The classics.
You have produced records by other artists, like Pucho and Charles
Earland. What is the most important factor for you when you produce
other people's music?
LEV: Mostly that they have a cool unique
style when 'doin it' that moves me and hopefully others, enough
to spend their hard earned money on. They do that by having something
to say and saying it well.
If you had choose only one album to take to a desert island, what
would it be?
LEV: This one! Seriously, I'm a record
collector and would never put myself in that position of only
having one choice or being on a deserted island. But, if I have
to play this game for real, I'd say 'Live at Carnegie Hall 1964'
or 'Bitches Brew' by Miles Davis, maybe 'Love Supreme' Coltrane,
or anything by Wes Montgomery, or.............wait a minute, would
there be a stereo there? Forget all that, given a choice, I'd
rather have a pretty girl singing sweetly to me!
Can you give us short comments on Karl Denson and Melvin Sparks,
both of whom you have worked with recently.
LEV: Karl Denson, no doubt is the hardest
working and one of the most talented and focused musicians I've
ever worked with. Melvin is one of my oldest and best friends.
He's got a charming personality and is one of the smartest most
gifted people I've ever known. We're musical soul mates and I
pray we'll do many more successful projects together.
Lastly, can you give Japanese fans a message?
LEV: The first time I played for a Japanese
audience [w/ BB King, 1972], it shocked me, in that the people
really listened quietly, intently, and intelligently. They weren't
socializing and talking, truly letting us as artists express ourselves
in a pure silent ambience. They gave us a respect seldom found
here in the States. At the time, it was puzzling because I didn't
realize that this was what was happening. When we finished, everybody
went absolutely crazy in appreciation, I then understood. I'll
never forget that and hope I get to experience that again someday.
So thank you for buying this Cd and hope to see you all soon!
May G-d bless you all.