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    A Visible Jazz Touch Of Genesis ... Live (CD)

    Martin Levac plays jazz versions of Genesis – live


    Fans have discussed Martin Levac in various contexts. One of the most frequent epithets describes him as the „Collins clone“. But that is the way it is. Levac is left-handed, he sings like Collins, resembles him and is an excellent drummer. When he left The Musical Box in 2006 he left a gap that many found quite painful.

    Levac wanted to to something else. He wanted to stand in the centre, to spin on the Collins clone concept. He did Genesis tribute shows of the Collins era, then went on to do a Collins solo show with which he toured through Europe. He really left a musical mark last year [2012] when his album A Visible Jazz Touch Of … Genesis came out. He brought his musical talent and abilities out and filled a CD with jazz interpretations of various Genesis songs, some of them even absurdly ingenious. A full review of the album can be found here.

    Martin Levac A Visible Jazz Touch To Genesis Live CoverLevac finally brought the show to the stage, though only in North America. Insofar as there have been no concerts in Europe we cannot report from a live show but really 'only' about a live album. Unlike Collins' own Big Band concept Levac has retained the vocals. Of course he does the singing himself and drums, too, though the credits only list percussions. He is supported by Jocelyn Couture on the trumpet. Sébastien Grenier plays the saxophone. He also arranged all the brass instuments. Julie Lamontagne plays the piano and adds backing vocals. Emmanuelle Caplette plays the drums and percussions. Mathieu Gagné can be heard on bass and vocals, while Frédéric Doiron sings and plays the guitar.

    The CD contains eight songs. A bonus track has been released as a vinyl single only. None of the songs has been released on the studio album, which makes this album all the more interesting. Time for a closer look.


    Follow You Follow Me

    The album begins in an unspectacular fashion with Genesis' first real single hit. You cannot go very wrong with the song, and this version shows that the original is quite jazzy in the first place. The perfect opener for the album.

    No Reply At All

    A peculiar choice, perhaps, but they go right at it. Piano, drums, electric guitar and brass – a perfect combination. Suddenly there is the impression that it is Collins who sings here. Levac sings aggressively, which is unusual in jazz. This is probably the most straightforward song on the album.

    The Carpet Crawlers

    Martin Levac Live 1The studio album that came before this live album was rather short on Gabriel-era hits, so it is great to have a big favourite from that period on the album in The Carpet Crawlers. Since the original has as much to do with jazz as Chris Norman with heavy metal, it is quite interesting to see how this song is done. First of all, Levac has a co-singer in Massiel Yanira. The singer (see here for her website) with Latin-American and French-Canadian roots has a degree in classical singing – and she sings her part in Spanish! The song begins calmly with the vocal intro alongside sparse electric guitar; it begins to swing only at „the crawlers cover the floor“. From there on it seems breezy and bassy. Yanira comes in for the first chorus (in English). She then sings the second verse in Spanish. An utterly new experience for the Genesis fan. What is most convincing is the dignity with which the song has been adapted for jazz. Like the original it keeps growing towards the end. Good fun.

    I Can't Dance

    A song one would not have expected a lot of, but it is the very song that goes through the roof. It begins with a big-band bit, like Two Heats or perhaps That's All, before Levac hurries through the verse and turns I Can't Dance into an up-tempo number full of swing. Then the musicians are introduced and it all turns into a kind of jam session. With this interpretation and this dynamism the song is a smash hit.

    Throwing It All Away

    This song could have been avoided. Perhaps. But this is not the umpteenth best of compilation and not just another run-of-the-mill live album, it is a jazz interpreation. Why Levac uses Collins' trademark „sigalay-eh“ calls remains his secret. A jazz version can do without that. The audience do not care and joins in the fun.

    Hold On My Heart

    Another ballad that divides Genesis fans. Levac does not try to get away from the original, but he does move away from the smooth pop flow of the original and builds the song along bass and piano. Add to that drums played with brushes. This creates a very different ballad mood and wows the listener at the latest when the horns come in. This is more than accomplished, a very interesting version.

    Afterglow

    Afterglow ist another surprise. The guitar alludes to the familiar keyboard chords while the piano reveals another side of the song Levac sings the song very well and manages to reproduce the drama of the original. The arrangement is not too surprising, but very effective. In the end Levac gets to really hit the skins. That is okay, for what would Afterglow be without the final drum bit?

    Martin levac drums liveI Know What I Like

    This Gabriel-era piece is an obvious candidate for a jazz show. There is hardly another piece that lends itself better to a free interpretation or that is closer to jazz than I Know What I Like. The use of horns reminds of Collins solo. Apart from that the song uses the same structure as Genesis' live interpretations or Hackett's recent versions.

    Bonus track: Wot Gorilla

    Perhaps the most mysterious piece the band ever recorded. Wot Gorilla is pure Collins – already on Wind & Wuthering. It anticipates much of what he would do solo. Or with Brand X. Collins always wanted a groove. He played this piece with the Big Band, unfortunately not too often. Levac focuses on the horns. Unfortunately the song fades out in the end. And it is only available on vinyl, not on the CD. 

    The Sound

    The sound of the album is outstanding. Bass and treble are very strong and clear, and the balance between the instruments is just perfect for a jazz album. The vocals are not too overpowering either, so that this is really a fine production. 


    Artwork and packaging

    The CD has a simple design. There is no booklet, all the information is printed on the iside. The CD comes as a gatefold sleeve in a kind of mini LP sleeve (similar to the Encore Series).


    In a nutshell

    You do not have to like Martin Levac to enjoy this album. After his studio album A Visible Jazz Touch Of Genesis Levac takes te next step and plays some very interesting versions of other songs live. The outcome is a remarkable work that stands out a lot from all the other tribute albums. It is a pity that neither album is available in shops right now (though a download of the studio album can be obtained from amazon.com and amazon-uk), and that there are no concerts planned for the jazz concept. Levac is a musician of an impressive level. It is a happy coincidence that he treats Genesis fans with it. Both albums are highly recommended and must-haves not only for people who enjoy crossing musical boundaries.


    by Christian Gerhardts, English by Martin Klinkhardt

    Obtaining the album / Special 7“ single and 33rpm 12“ vinyl LP

    A vinyl LP version of the album with a bonus poster is available, too. There also is a 7“ single of Follow You Follow Me that is backed with the above-mentioned Wot Gorilla. All these can be ordered directly from Martin Levac's website. A download is also available at CDBaby and amazon.com / amazon-uk.


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