Vaccinating Rhythm: Levin Brothers groovilating @ the Strand Theater Hudson Falls, 06/17/2021

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HUDSON FALLS — The Levin Brothers haven’t toured since shortly before the pandemic. They have briefly returned to tour again in the Great Northeast in a tour titled “Vaccinating Rhythm”. The trademark sense of humor and virtuosity certainly hasn’t changed. We have been fortunate in Nippertown to have them relatively close as they opened at The Falcon in Marlboro and will close the tour next week on Saturday at Bearsville in Woodstock.

When I arrived at the hall, I didn’t quite know what to expect in this beautifully restored hall as there was a mandala video prominently used as a backdrop. In many ways, things were as expected, at other times they were not as this band has evolved since it was conceived in the mid-2010s.

Originally the band was formed by the brothers to play the “cool jazz” they grew up within the 50s and performed in suits. They still play jazz but were all sporting “Vaccinating Rhythm” T-shirts that could be called “Post Covid Nehru Jackets” ( Anyone remembers the Beatles when they first invaded the USA?).

The saxophone has been dropped in favor of the virtuoso guitar of veteran Jeff Ciampa whose lead guitar bridges the gap between rock and jazz. His tone resembles that of the great Larry Carlton.

Lots of covers were played crossing many genres. The Lennon McCartney psychedelic “Fixing a Hole”, was turned into a grooving B3 number worthy of anything Jimmy Smith or others in the soul-jazz genre.

King Crimson’s “Elephant Talk” (Tony Levin played on the original) was turned into half recital poetry/half rap with him playing the complex lines at the same time!

Weather Report’s “Teen Town” was tackled with gusto with Tony and Jeff Ciampa eagerly trading riffs.

Eric Satie’s “Gymnopedie” was played with the gentleness and peace the composition commands.

Newer compositions including Ice Ring and Bell were also played as if they were staples. They ended with the Ralph Towner composition associated with Oregon and the Paul Winter Consort “Icarus” adding their own touch of adding some Latin rhythms to it.

Certainly a great way to spend an evening in a beautiful hall and a great band.

Conflicting schedules of all these maestros will not make another tour possible until 2022. Although it will be possible to catch these gentlemen in other ensembles this year. Most notably Tony Levin will be back at SPAC with King Crimson on 8/23. Can’t wait for the next tour.

Photo Gallery by Rudy Lu

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