WITH TONY LEVIN of LEVIN MINNEMANN RUDESS (italian
by Giancarlo Bolther and Laura Medei
Superb album, it seems that you’ve got a lot of fun
in the making. How did this collaboration start and which were your
It's a nice challenge to team up with some players you respect, and
see what can come out of the project. Sometimes the result isn't as
good as you hoped -- sometimes it's better. This time the compositions
came out really well -- not based on jams at all, and I'm very happy
with the musical result.
What’s the difference between this project and the experience
you’ve had with Liquid Tension Experiment?
To me, each album, each project, and each tour is different - so it's
hard to compare them. I'll try with these two, though: the big difference
was we wrote the material in our home studios, then shared it with
the other players. LTE was all written together and quickly - so no
time to second guess the material. That's not a bad thing, just different.
Then, the writing was just different. And Jordan was left a bigger
role in this music (there being no lead guitar player in the group)
The album shows a very high technical level, but there is also a great
feeling between you. In your opinion, how important is the technical
ability in playing compared to the search for a good melodic composition?
That's a good question. I value technique a lot, but no so much the
'playing fast' technique, but the touch, and phrasing -- the stuff
that make you sound different than other players. But there are a
lot of kinds of technique -- and for a player like me, I'm still practicing
plenty, to try to get better at it all. The technique is, to me, like
the TOOLS you're using. It's not as important, in the end, as what
you called the 'feeling between' us… i.e. the quality of the
Making the album, have you worked together or in a separated way?
Each at his home studio, except for some jamming that Jordan and I
did together at his studio -- that is (in video) on the DVD version
of the album.
Are you planning to represent live the album or is it going
to remain only a studio project?
Maybe after second album is done we may tour.
Nowadays collaborations between musicians are increasing in
rock, while in jazz represent the norm since a long time. According
to you why is it not the norm in rock as well?
I don't know. I have done a lot of collaborations in rock, through
the years. I think it's pretty common
Dealing with all the albums you’ve played in, could
you tell us your favorite five and why would you choose them?
I don't have favorite albums or musicians. I like a lot of different
music, and if it's very good, than it's special to me, (whether I
have played on it or not) and hopefully I can grow as a musician by
being exposed to that kind of music. I don't go through my old albums
and listen to them - not that it wouldn't be fun, but I am usually
busy working on new music - and that's more important to me.
In your career you’ve made a lot of experimental music.
Do you think experimenting is still possible nowadays? And which are
the artists or the young bands you consider able to make that?
I'm always listening for new bands (or old ones) that break the rules,
in a musically good way, so that I can be inspired with my music.
To me that's what 'progressive music' is about, and it's not always
easy to push yourself beyond the boundaries of what you've done before.
Hearing other bands is a big help.
You have a long time experience. When did you realize for
the very first time something important was happening in you musical
career and which has been the greatest satisfaction happened to you?
Like many musicians, I'm not so good at seeing an 'overview' of my
career. So, rather than realizing I'm doing something important, all
I ever did was listen to the music I am involved with, and try to
make up a really good bass part!
You have played with many artists from different countries
and covering different musical genres, from jazz to progressive, from
pop to fusion. Which collaboration has meant more to you in a professional
I have enjoyed all the music I've got to play… well, all the
GOOD music - and most of it was very good.
Aside from the projects you’re involved in, you’re
just back in King Crimson lineup. Would you describe in a few words
how the band looks today if compared to foregoing experiences?
We haven't started rehearsing yet with the new King Crimson, so I
don't have a good idea how it will sound (nobody does, yet!) I know
there will be three drummers, so it's going to be very interesting
to hear what happens, and as always with that band, I am sure it will
be very challenging for all of us.
During the past two decades you’ve worked with several
Italian artists. Have you got any anecdotes to tell about those collaborations?
No anecdotes, but I love the music sensibility in Italy (maybe because
I was always a big opera fan!) and I've been very lucky to play with
some great Italian artists.
Is there a musician you’d like to work with or a musical
genre you’re intending to explore in the next future?
The near future for me is taken up with tours in the coming year -
all with musicians I already know (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Stick
Men, The Crimson ProjeKCt). I hope, in the future, to expand and play
with other players, but probably it won't be until these coming tours
This is the last question. If you mind, you can end this interview
with something you have in aim to say. A kind of message to the Italian
audience. You’re free.
I love being in Italy, and playing concerts there. It's a great audience,
there is great understanding of Progressive Rock, and … well,
like most of the world, I agree it's just a great place to be!
Review: Levin Minnemann Rudess