Gig Schedule - Reviews/Press
Here is Lev's written response to interview questions put by Charles Sawyer regarding the new DVD to be released 'BB King Live in Zaire Africa 1974':
I remember this concert and those times as a one time, very unique historical event. Ten years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Don King and Lloyd Price produced a heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali & George Foreman and a three day concert by the cream of the crop of American artists, in the new country of Zaire, Africa no less! It was an epicenter celebration of Black sports, music and entrepreneurship. I don’t believe there’s been anything like it since or ever will be again.
It was a non-stop no holes barred party from the time we assembled at JFK in a brand new chartered 747 until we returned home some ten days later. Well, there were some delays. James Brown’s ego and his numerous wardrobe containers could not possibly fit into the plane. He refused to scale down either and the plane was overloaded with excess weight, our departure was late by 8-10 hours, much to the dismay of all. He lived up to his new given name that day, ‘As-Soul Brother #1’.
The Fania Latin All-Stars were incredible party people. I can’t recall anytime they weren’t partying, singing, dancing, jamming, eating & drinking simultaneously. Fred Wesley rehearsed the JB’s at our hotel 6+ hours everyday. So pretty much all day, you could hear the funky JB’s from the conference room and the Fanias out by the pool boogalooing non-stop. We had an open bar and free food 24/7. Hugh Masakela delivered a garbage bag full of African ganja for us to smoke. Local gyroscopic wiggling sepia coke bottle beauties of pleasure were also delivered daily and danced with us all. Talk about Black Power! Clothing was deemed optional, hedonism ruled, Caligula was an amateur. This was all under the constant and omnipresent vision of the numerous smiling, framed and daily shined portraits of our ‘benevolent’ dictator and lovable leader Mubutu. Life was grand!
At night by the pool, we had a spectacular view which overlooked a valley, a river and a hill on the other side. Our laughing, singing, dancing, jamming, splashing, eating & drinking was interrupted the first night by sudden rocket fire and screaming tracers across the river. Everything stopped still, like an EF Hutton commercial. No one ever explained it and all innocent inquiries were verbotten. Our fifty or so AK-47 toting fatigue & helmet wearing ‘security men’ told us not to worry, all was ok. We were safe and to please continue to enjoy ourselves and our gracious gyrating friends. We heeded their smiling advice. By the second or third night we all took it in non-stop stride, as we boogaloo’d to the display of colorful sonic explosions half a dozen or so kilometers away. It became a nightly ritual we looked forward to!
BB brought yours truly on piano, Sonny Freeman [drums] and Bobby Forte [tenor sax] from the regular working band as well as LeRoy Myers [road mgr], Hampton Reese [arranger/conductor], and Sidney Seidenberg [manager] on this trip. We were augmented by a collection of the top and fabulously famous star studio musicians from New York. Wilton Felder and Larry Carlton of the Jazz Crusaders from LA also joined us that night on bass & rhythm guitar. The always witty, super intellectual, perfunctory, totally hip and sophisticated Hampton Reese rehearsed us and whipped us into spic & span shape in a few hours of rehearsal at the hotel. His charts were great, easy to read and melted like butter n’ onions in a hot cast iron pan, greased.
I can’t remember BB ever having a bad night. I never saw BB fail to steal the show. The heavier the ‘competition’ the deeper he went, every single time. To perform in Africa, the land of his ancestors, at this stadium event before an 80,000 plus crazed, hot, sweaty, dancing and bouncing heads and soulfully pained hearts, must have had a very special personal significance for BB, as it did for us all. We all realized this was not just another gig. It was history, good history. We were all very proud to be a part of it. As far as the set went, we performed BB’s most famous hits. I have to say, this was probably the first time this crowd ever heard or heard of BB King but as usual, he left them wanting more as well as an indelible memory of his sincere personal passion and deep felt blues. He definitely connected with them like the beloved king he is. James Brown however, totally ruled.
After three hot, unbelievably oppressive humid nights of jam packed concerts featuring The Sisters Sledge, Bill Withers, The Crusaders, The Fania All-Stars, James Brown, BB King, The Spinners and others, the heavyweight main event was on tap. There must’ve been over 100,000 sweat soaked souls there at the newly finished soccer stadium that night. 99.9% were for Ali. For awhile, Foreman manhandled Ali severely and punished him unmercifully. People were in tears as Ali was rope-a-doping while being beaten to a pulp-ish purple. I forget which round it was, but like the once fabled phoenix, Ali resurrected himself and the 100,000 plus crowd chanted in unison “Ali, Ali Boom by-yay”. I still don’t know what that means but it sent cold chills & shivers throughout my body [even today] on this steamy 100 degree, one zillion percent humid night in Zaire. Foreman was punched out! He couldn’t even raise his arms in defense as Ali jabbed & blabbed, wobbled & weaved, bounced and trounced, mocked and cajoled at will and picked Foreman apart like a Southern Sabbath Sunday fried chicken and won. It was truly incredible!
During the early & middle 1970’s, BB’s career was handled with total aplomb and genius by Sid Seidenberg, his former accountant. Our schedule consisted of 350 plus dates a year, sometimes 400! We did four gigs in one 24 hour day once, starting in NYC, then Chicago, Milwaukee, and winding up in LA for a next morning 3 AM breakfast show. We played Vegas [when Vegas was, Vegas], colleges, the chitlin’ circuit, hippie houses, bars, prisons, outdoor Jazz & Blues festivals, concert halls [Carnegie, Lincoln, Albert Hall etc], before Royalty and Presidents, primo private parties, parades, TV, radio and most of Ali’s fights. We did them all year long, again and again, over and over, for years after years [7 for me] non-stop, but there was only ONE concert event that will never be duplicated, this one; ‘BB King, Live in Zaire Africa 1974’.
Dear Friends and fans,
Hope this finds you all well. I'm sad to say one of my good personal friends and one of the whole music community, Teo Leyasmeyer, recently passed away suddenly. Teo was a very talented pianist, businessman and one of the truly 'good guys' in the music business. Here's a link to his recent obituary from the Boston Herald. He will be sorely missed. He leaves behind many friends, but especially his beautiful wife and two wonderful daughters, ages 14 and 8.
In light of this, I will be donating 100% of ALL future sales monies of RLWK's 'Jazzalicious Grooves' to his family from now on. So please go to CDBaby.com and order copies, for you and your friends. It'll be much appreciated. Thank you.
Now back to New news:
We now have direct links for downloading RLWK tunes to Apple iTunes for most titles on each music page.
Don't worry, we also have 32 other download partners, as well as Ringtones available for your cellphone.
All on the RLWK, www.Levtron.com, website.
Also, we have a new distributor in Japan, in Japanese. Imagine that! So all you fans in Asia can order locally now.
More exciting news! Ron's tune 'Midnight in Memphis' performed by Memphis' own Preston Shannon, the 'Mayor of Beale St' recorded at Papa Willie Mitchell's Royal Studio will be used for the theme song on an upcoming series on the FOX- TV network, entitled 'Southern Comfort' this coming Fall. It's about the 'Dixie Mafia' headed by the wife of a former mob boss. It'll have some really cool characters & backdrops from Juke Joints to plantations etc. Kind of a 'Sopranos' meets the Delta, should be pretty cool. Watch for it!
Much thanks, and have a great & safe summer.
- We have just come across some photos of Ron Levy performing with BB King at The Concert House in Stockholm, Sweden on May 24, 1974! Check them out on the Photos page.
- Ron Levy was recently interviewed by the famous Blues photographer and former manager of Buddy Guy & Jr. Wells, Dick Waterman. He is presently writing an authorized biography of BB King, due out next September 2005. Check out the interview by clicking here.
- Once again, the infamous Karl Denson, Melvin Sparks, Ron Levy team [plus the RLWK gang] has done it again with the newly released Levtron.com Cd called 'After Midnight Grooves'. #2 on WEMU's chart, 'hostessed' by Linda Yohn. AMG's got the kind of mellow-soulful vibe you & your honey will definitely enjoy once back home after a nice night out. B-3 romantic grooves baby, with some bluesy funky slinky jazz in the mix for some serious 'undercover' work. Listen
- Panartist.com of London UK is now carrying RLWK titles in jolly Olde' England. As well, don't forget that CdBaby.com ships world-wide too!
- Celebrate 4th of July w/ RLWK's 'Spangled Star Boogaloo' FREE DOWNLOAD @ http://www.witchdoctorrecording.com/ronlevy/
- P-Vine Records of Japan has just released a 10 song compilation called 'Organ Colossus', The VERY best of Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom. The Cd cover artwork was done in a style that's in tribute to Sonny Rollin's famous record, 'Saxophone Colossus', a HUGE honor, no doubt. More details and an interesting interview conducted by Ko Enomoto of P-Vine with Lev, on the music page. Check it out!
- The German music/keyboard magazine OKEY! is carrying Lev's Cds for the German & European markets and is doing an upcoming full front-cover story featuring Lev this summer. Great magazine, very interesting combination of articles & lessons ranging from classical, theatre organ [!], rock, pop, blues to jazz & beyond. Chk out the cover!
- Logon & checkout the NEW updates on www.Levtron.com We've got some new photos, bio's of the Wild Kingdomites, full-length music streams of ALL the Lev-tunes for your review, prior to purchase or download.
- All of Lev's new tunes are now available individually for digital downloading on CdBaby.com, Amazon.com, Apple iTunes, AOL, Rhapsody and most 'known' digital download services. Just search Ron Levy or Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom on your favorite site. So logon, download and create your own Levmixz! Click here for a list of sites.
- This coming August- September, watch out for 'Best of RLWK - B-3 Organic Grooves' a 73 minute & 59 second 12 song Lev-ology of the best cuts from the last three RLWK Levtron.com Cds. Some of the tunes have been re-mixed into more hard hitting compacted shorter versions of the most radio requested tunes, all in a more rack-able, filing friendly package. We've gotten some 'comments' regarding the vintage mini-LP style paper sleeves we've been using, so we're going with the plastic jewel cases from now on. itsaulgood.
- Levy, Melvin & Karl have completed 4 NEW tracks for the next RLWK release due out for Fall of 2004 which'll be called 'VooDoo Boogaloo' on Levtron.com [#206]. Former Muddy Water's and currently Eric Clapton's harp master Jerry Portnoy plays a killer harmonica solo on Lev's tribute tune to Lev's mentor Willie Mitchell, 'Memphis Memories'. 'Sax' Gordon also contributes some honkin' baritone sax along with Karl Denson on tenor, as a horn section. Funky, funky, funky. We just finished cutting another 4 tracks of new 'HOT' originals the last week of June at Witch Doctor Recording Studio in Salem Mass. btw: Shawn's moving the studio to Brooklyn NY. He and Lev should be back twistin' and turnin' the knobs, punchin' the keys, mixin' & masterin', once again this October 2004. We've already moved the organ down there!
The Ron Levy Mailing List Archive
Click below to view the emails that
have been sent out to the mailing list.
May 2003 (Green Eyed Soul)
January 2004 (Finding My Way)
March 2004 (Spring Sale)
May 2004 (Organ Colossus)
June 2004 (After Midnight Grooves)
July 2004 - 1 (New News)
July 2004 - 2 (Digital Downloads)
September 2004 - (Best of RLWK)
December 2004 - (Happy Holidays)
February 2005 - (VooDoo Boogaloo)
September 2005 - (Hurricane Katrina)
December 2005 - (Zim Zam Zoom)
June 2006 - (Teo Leyasmeyer)
Here's what our friends at Dusty Groove are saying about Green Eyed Soul
A tasty bit of organ jazz from Ron Levy -- an unsung hero of the Hammond, and one of the leading lights of the Northeast scene! Ron's playing is steeped in the classic styles of the 60s -- some nice Jack McDuff touches on the keys at times, but overall with a heavier approach to the funk that reminds us more of some of the heavy-hitters in the Prestige jazz funk early 70s years -- like Leon Spencer or Groove Holmes. The album's got a surprisingly classic feel -- no gimmicks, no "jam too much" playing -- just tight, right, and outta site funky jazz -- played in a style that really appreciates the classics, but which gives it the kind of energy that we first heard getting pumped back into the music from the Desco/Daptone crew! Titles include "Soulard Soul Stew", "Always Outnumbered", "The Soulside", "Silver Plated", "Green Eyed Soul", and "El Fuego De Lowell".
Here's what our friends at Dusty Groove are saying about RLWK Live
Heavy Hammond work from Ron Levy -- one of America's best recent groovers on the organ, and a player who's firmly dedicated to a classic sound! Levy plays in territory that includes some of the more recent "jamband" styles of funk, but he's also got an ear for the styles of the masters -- like Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff -- and as you'll hear on this tasty live set, he definitely knows his way around the keyboard of the B-3! Tracks are long, with plenty of room for grooving -- and titles include "Sons Of Abraham", "Blues For BB", "Like Like Dope", "Gaucha Girl", "Confusions", and "Funky Monkey Boogaloo".
- By popular demand! New ‘Live!’ Cd recorded with the organ trio [John Trama –guitar, Joe Russo – drums, Ron Levy – Hammond organ] in Boulder, CO during our March 2001 tour.
- Karl Denson’s new Blue Note Cd ‘ Dance Lesson #2’ with two Ron Levy compositions ‘Like Like Dope’ and ‘AJ Bustah’ is tearing up the radio and sales charts in the US and abroad. #1 on CMJ! Chk out Karl this summer and pick up the Cd. www.karldenson.com Also: New duo Cd w/ Chris Wood of MMW on bass and Karl on alto-tenor and flute with 3 Ron Levy compositions available soon!
Ron Levy is one of those artists who once youve heard him, you will definitely remember the experience. It is a complete package. A great organ trio sound, great solos and insanely good writing. - Karl Denson, Blue Note recording artist and saxophonist extraordinaire
Blue Note Records reviews Karl Denson's "Dance Lesson #2" (Levy on organs)
Ron Levy’s Gig Schedule
Stay tuned for upcoming dates...
Click here to view the Gig Archive
Reviews and Press
Press Clipping: "Bluesman Levy Reclaims Wild Kingdom"
Press Clipping: "GreaZe is What's Good" Review
Press Clipping: Jazz Times - September 1996 Article
Press Clipping: Blues Access - Spring 1999 Article
Here’s what they’re saying about Ron Levy’s release "GreaZe is Whats Good""Ron Levy is the ultimate blues keyboard player." - Craig Harris, The Boston Globe, 9/3/98
"Record producer and ace Hammond B-3 organ player likes to blend jazz, blues, hip-hop and even gospel music in ways that blow apart some of the stylistic boxes that the record industry and radio-programmers have imposed upon music in America." - Ken Franckling, UPI, 4/21/98
"This is one CD you will have to have." - Phil Wight, Blues & Rhythm, April 1998
"Groove-a-thon session that will definitely impress those listeners with open-minded jazz/blues/dance/rock tastes. Levy also sneaks in a groove hip-hop co-op that smokes those Arrested Development fusions, but it’s a novelty compared to the funk metered out on the remainder of the disc. Do yourself a favor already." - Chip Edwards, www.eatmag.com, 5/28/98
"B-3 funkmeister Levy blasts past his previous solo work to make a star-studded, relentlessly funky album that doesn’t let up from beginning to end." "GreaZe is What’s Good" mixes gutbucket r&b with jazz, soul-blues and gospel into one supremely greazy stew." - Kevin R. Convey, Boston Herald, 7/19/98
Here’s what they’re saying about Ron Levy’s release "Zim Zam Zoom""Ron Levys’ latest release "Zim Zam Zoom" grasps the very essence of his soulful spirituality." - Holly Harris, Blues on Sunday, WBOS
"B-3 organist Levy and six cohorts, including marvelous guitarist Melvin Sparks and redoubtable drummer Idris Muhammad smoke their "acid-blues" aka "soul-jazz" to perfection. All numbers are equally succulent. 4 stars" - Frank-John Hadley, "One The Blue Side" Downbeat
"You can be sure whether he’s onstage or in the studio, Levy will work on conjuring up something well worth remembering." - Bob Young, Boston Herald, 3/14/95
"You can’t really beat the full throated sound of a Hammond B-3, and Levy takes full advantage of the instrument’s special capabilities.." - Billboard 5/8/93
"Levy plays with unflagging inventiveness, piling on the needling leads and beefy chords that hallmark his style. Throughout, the quality of music is so uniformly excellent and so is the production, making Zim Zam Zoom a high point of Levy’s career." - Tim Schuller, Dallas Observer
"For fans of the B-3, this is a perfect disc for a late night party." Peter R. Aschoff, Living Blues, July/August 1996
"4 1/2 stars" - All Music Guide
Email us @ Ron Levy / Levtron Productions
1337 Mass. Ave. #152
Arlington MA 02476
Fax - 339-707-6071