In-demand session player and A-list sideman Chuck Leavell can add "solo recording artist" to his resume with the release of his solo piano album, "Forever Blue," on Terminus Records. Leavell made his
In-demand session player and A-list sideman Chuck Leavell can add "solo recording artist" to his resume with the release of his solo piano album, "Forever Blue," on Terminus Records. Leavell made his mark as a member of the Allman Brothers Band and leader of his own outfit, Sea Level. He has also been a member of the Rolling Stones touring band since 1982 and counts the Grammy Award-winning Train single "Drops of Jupiter" among his recent studio work.
Aside from a 1998 Christmas album on Capricorn titled "What's in That Bag?," "Forever Blue" is Leavell's only other solo effort. "Doing this record is something that has been in the back of my mind for a long time," he says. While a couple of songs on the record date back to Sea Level days, many were written during down time on the last Stones tour. Leavell says, "That's when I began to formulate the concept for a solo piano record."
"Forever Blue" was recorded with longtime Leavell friend/collaborator Paul Hornsby at Hornsby's Muscadine Studios in Macon, Ga. While well known for his virtuosity and soulful style, Leavell has never had any formal musical training. "I learned from my mother and others like Paul Hornsby, who showed me the tricks of the trade."
Even if "Forever Blue" is devoid of vocals, Leavell masterfully conveys his message, whether it's the atmospheric "Just Before Dawn," the slow-rollin' blues of the title cut, the jazzy "Song for Amy," the frenzied boogie of "Walk a Little Closer," or the gorgeously melodic "Ashokan Farewell."
Concurrent with Terminus' March 12 release of "Forever Blue" (which is distributed through Rykodisc), a companion book by Leavell called "Forever Green," which addresses his passion for conservation, will be published. Both the album and the book fall under the umbrella of Evergreen Arts, Leavell's company, which also hoses his publishing company, Classic Ivory Music.
Leavell says his focus is on promoting both "Forever Blue" and "Forever Green" through speaking engagements and some possible TV and radio appearances, but if a much-discussed Stones 40th-anniversary tour does come to pass this fall, he'd love to be a part of it. "It would be a double anniversary for me, 40 years for the Stones as a band, and 20 years touring with the Stones for me."
Excerpted from the March 16, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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