Author Archive for Robert Levin


Joe Licari/Mark Shane: Swing It, Brother, Swing!!

The following originally appeared, in altered form, on the All About Jazz website.


Joe Licari: Clarinet; Mark Shane: piano.

Had the responsibility of naming this CD fallen to me, I would have chosen “After Hours.” Not that this small gem of an album, rooted in the sensibility and protocols of the swing era (and in certain of that period’s antecedents) isn’t a model of forward propulsion. Indeed, in both its slow and middle tempo numbers, it swings mightily. I’m speaking of the intimate, late night mood it immediately evokes.

What we have here are two gifted artists with a long professional association, subtly functioning as extensions of one another. And while they are obviously making music for themselves, for the sheer joy of it, they never lose, as the structure and cohesion of their interplay and individual flights makes clear, their awareness that they also have an audience to please.

I’ve written elsewhere about Licari’s “unfailing exuberance, his touch with a ballad and the marvelous symmetry of his solos.” In the decade or more that I’ve been listening to him (mostly at Arthur’s Tavern in Greenwich Village on Monday nights) I’ve likewise been impressed not only by his command of all of his instrument’s registers and by the new places he has taken the evident inspiration of Benny Goodman, but by how, week to week, he continues to try different approaches and to grow. And he’s in his mid-eighties now.

As for the estimable pianist Mark Shane, let me quote from Marianne Mangan’s excellent liner notes. “…after an early brush with modernism, [Shane] heard the likes of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller and never looked back. With Teddy Wilson, Count Basie and Art Tatum influences in the mix, he developed an all-star resume as a stride virtuoso himself, a masterful ensemble and solo jazz pianist.” I would add how expertly Shane uses his left hand to compensate for the absence of a bassist.

Wisely chosen to optimally reflect the unique talents of their interpreters, the sixteen tunes in this rich and varied collection, ranging from the ever-appealing “Sugar” to the Sidney Bechet classic, “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere,” include many outstanding if lesser known jazz standards as well. Virtually every track invites and will reward repeated hearings.

Track Listing: Sugar; Please, Waitin’ for Katie; Delta Bound; There’s a Cabin in the Pines; Drop Me Off in Harlem; Sweet and Slow; Evenin’; Deep Night; You Were Only Passing Time with Me; Pee Wee’s Blues; That Rhythm Man; Baby; A Melody from the Sky; Did I Remember?; Si Tu Vois Ma Mere.

Ordering information:Joe Licari, 539 So. Mountain Rd.,New City, NY10956.

$17.50 postage and handling included. Contact Joe Licari: for information about orders from outside the United States.


Writings & Miscellaneous

Books by Robert Levin

When Pacino’s Hot, I’m Hot
The Drill Press LLC

Against Mental Health: Short Stories


“A writer of talent and intelligence.” — Irving Louis Horowitz

“Distinguished quality…profound emotion.” —Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agrawal

“Some real gold in here.”—B.D. Charles


Music & Politics
by John Sinclair and Robert Levin
World Publishing

“Robert Levin’s articles…make up the second half of Music and Politics, and they’re something else again. He’s a quietly briliant writer (not flashy but subtly dazzling) who knows jazz extremely well and who knows how to let us know what he knows. His piece on Sunny Murray says more about the birth of the New Jazz than most writers could say in a volume; the Anthony Braxton interview is one of the freshest, most reassuring articles on the future of music (of the arts in general) that I’ve read; his ‘found critique’ of ‘Space’ by the MJQ, which contrasts Murray’s thoughts on music at the White House with President Nixon’s introduction of the MJQ in that very place, is brilliant; his piece on the unfortunate evolution of Willis Jackson…is a minor masterpiece; and he’s lucid and painful and thoroughly correct when he writes that ‘What is meant by ‘every man has his price’ is that every man has his uncertainty about the validity and sanity of his perception of the truth. To ‘sell out’ is to capitulate to that uncertainty.'”
—Colman Andrews, Creem

Giants of Black Music
Edited by Pauline Rivelli and Robert Levin, with a foreword by Nat Hentoff
Da Capo Press