Opinions, Testimonials, and Reviews –The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

bassball

“Leva uses the full timbral range of his instrument, incorporating not just conventional plucking and bowing techniques, but an assortment of unorthodox percussive attacks.” – Ian Thal’s review of Liars and Believers’ Interference

“…the third act of the story became theatrically compelling when Veronica Baron, playing a polymorphously perverse bull, joins King in the ring to the accompaniment of Leva’s virtuoso bass playing which adds a whimsy that recalls composer Carl Stalling’s Looney Tunes scores.” – Ian Thal reviewing Liars and Believers’ Interference

“There was nothing interesting about the music.” – Boston Globe review of Whistler in the Dark’s production of Vinegar Tom (arrangements and compositions assisted by Tony Leva)

“Badass bass lines.” -Victoria Wasylak of Howl Magazine

“The music was awful.  I mean, does this guy even know how to play the bass?  It was atonal and almost ruined this otherwise beautiful show!  Maybe he should learn to play a different instrument.”-Anonymous Woman.  (Not recognizing me as the performer, she shared her thoughts about my playing.  Her comments are in regard to music which I had just written and performed for the puppet show: “What the Moon Saw”  by Sarah Frechette.  No hard feelings, ma’am; it’s rare we get to hear what people really think! Plus, do I really expect everyone to like what I do?)

Translated review of solo album “The Ballads of Orange and Grape” from the European blog “Sounds Like Jazz” 

Tony Leva plays bass with the indie band Timesbold, and he is also involved with various other projects. One of these projects is his solo work called “Ballads Of Orange And Grape. ” It is an absolutely beautifully crafted CD which sounds totally disarmed and central. Tony displays a sensitivity as he simultaneously grinds out a darkness using wood, paint, strings and hair.

The album was influenced by a poem of Muriel Rukeyser’s and explores the  complexity of communication through language under the microscope. “As the man goes on pouring grape into orange and orange into the one marked grape “/ We ask ourselves, “how are we going to believe what we read and we write and we say and do?”  This trip begins with Tuvan throat singing that interacts with a witty Orson Welles interview, in turn succeeded by a poem ‘The Ballad Of A Landlord’ by Langston Hughes. From here you sink deeper into your seat. With nine tracks to go full of deep, dark, New York feeling experimental jazz, contrasted with the equally dark beatnik jazz, and above unreal and honest feels. In part this will be due to the fact that each composition is provided with associated notes, and some at least, are hard to swallow. Forget your ears. It really seems as if these compositions are created to listen with the heart. If people here actually succeed in listening with their heart, they will undoubtedly agree that what this brings is a total immersion of the senses. The beautiful and sad at the same time. Of course, this album is a limited edition. Not yet on the net, so if interested, send the guy an email with my greetings to anthonycolinlevaATgmailDOTcom

Finally, I want to mention to Tony that I would like to thank him for 1) my own mini Rothko and 2) the beginning of my healing that, without your moving messages, never would have been possible. Thanks man! “A painting is always somewhat moral when it deals with tragedy and conveys the horror of that which it depicts.” – Dixit Barbey D’Aurevilly

Review of Well Songs by Steven Lefreniere

Anthony Leva loves finding random sounds. He especially loves discovering sounds that please him enough to capture on the digital recorder that he regularly carries with himself out into the world. Some of these he mixes into his own recordings of improvisational music, and its the dynamics of how he does all of this that make Well Songs such a delight.

Leva is an accomplished stand-up bass player. He performs solo and with a number of musical groups stretching from Chautauqua County to Boston and New York City. While there’s a tendency toward the feel of avant-garde jazz, his work might be more closely allied with musicians who play with ideas about syncopation, small incidents involving note clusters, and even the way an instrument can mimic the nuances of human speech.

Well Songs clocks in at a perfect 24 minutes. It’s time enough for Leva to introduce the listener to a number of intriguing textures and soundscapes. “Ferrocaril” starts off the collection with the clicking of drumsticks over the sound of a distant trumpet, like someone practicing in the apartment next door. The track wanders into the next, a loose piano, drums, and bass improvisation with the sounds of conversation floating in here and there. “I had a lot of drama this week,” says a man at one point, and it’s this quality of overhearing that’s the key to all that follows.

Leva plays out in Jamestown occasionally, usually working with young like-minded instrumentalists. On stage at the Labyrinth Press Company recently, he extended the conversational facet of the recordings by reciting a poem that at first sounded as if he was talking to someone in the audience. The pleasant confusion of the next minute or so brought the room’s attention to a different place, and the music that Leva followed up with sounded different because of it—the context had subtly shifted.

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