Bob Levy’s new recording, Connections, with lyrics by Levy, and music by various composers, including himself, Levy convinces us that the craft of writing American standards is not only alive and well, but thriving. While remaining fresh and contemporary, this 20-song CD has a universal feel in its breezy nightclub sound and its lyrics that, simply put, find 20 lovely ways to say “I love you.”
Levy is nothing else if not a marvelous collaborator, working with six additional composers, seven pianists/arrangers, and nine vocalists on this recording. It is a testament to his musical vision that this recording maintains its cohesion, moving seamlessly from song to song.
His most fruitful teamwork shows with Harriet Goldberg, whose haunting descending harmonies in “The Moon, The Stars, The Sky” and lilting romantic tempo in “Nothing to Lose,” are real standouts. Cabaret stalwart Alex Rybeck provides great musical versatility with a bouncy “Looks Like They’re in Love,” and yet a lush arrangement for the reflective “He Remembers, She Remembers,” underscored by Jered Egan’s poignantly bowed bass and Joyce Breach’s honest delivery, making it one of the recording’s many highlights. Additional composers Ronny Whyte, Dennis Livingston, Jon Burr, Krisanthi Pappas and Levy himself add romance, seduction, shades of country, and a soupçon of the blues.
Dane Vannatter, frequent Levy collaborator, sings more than half the numbers, providing smooth, buttery vocals throughout, with an essence of Stevie Wonder in “The Moon, The Stars, The Sky,” and yet a Mel Tormé style in “Looks Like They’re in Love.” Cabaret veterans Judi Figel, Barbara Porteus, Krisanthi Pappas, and Matt Ray offer additional solid vocals, while Jinny Sagorin becomes a Disney princess on Livingston’s “My Never Ending Dream.”
But the top kudos goes to Levy, who paints many shades of love with his simple straightforward lyrics, that fall beautifully on these cushioning melodies. If you want a romantic night out on the town without ever leaving your house, this is your recording.
Jersey Jazz: Journal of the New Jersey Jazz Societyby Joe Lang 2015
Connections (SilkRiver Music 086) is a collection of songs with lyrics by BOB LEVY. The music is provided by an impressive list of collaborators including Harriet Goldberg, Alex Rybeck, Ronny Whyte, Krisanthi Pappas, Dennis Livingston and John Burr, with Levy providing his own music for four of the selections. Levy writes lyrics that are very much in the mold of the writers of classic pop tunes from the days before the singer/songwriter began to dominate pop music. To sing his words, Levy enlisted Whyte, Pappas, Barbara Porteus, Judi Figel, Joyce Breach, Matt Ray, Jinny Sagorin and Dane Vannatter, who sings on ten of the twenty vocal tracks. When listening to a program of original songs, it is often difficult to feel an immediate connection to them, but this collection quickly draws the listener’s attention in a positive manner. It is nice to know that there are still writers like Bob Levy to produce songs that have solid, intelligent lyrics. (www.silkrivermusc.com)
Danielle Miceli's New York Cabaret Today CD Review: January 6, 2016
Bob Levy’s album, Connections, 2015, is a very eclectic production from his Silk River Music company, which is represented by ASCAP. Bob is one of the most promising songwriters around.....“Starting All Over Again” with music by Levy and sung by Vannatter, who sings many songs on the album, is a song to listen to if you want to understand Bob Levy’s general lyric-writing viewpoint. “Do you ever know if your choice is right/Insecurities that keep you up at night” are lyrics in this piece. Levy displays sensitivity to the human condition in his lyrics with songs like this one. His speakers are often very sentimental and also conflicted at times. That is why he can be considered a serious lyricist.... I recommend seeking out this album for a nice dinner at home or a relaxing night by the fire or just in your car or apartment.
“A Little Bit More” – The Songs of Bob Levy & Jon Burr | T2C Online: Joe Regan, Jr.
"Bob Levy is an award winning lyricist-composer who writes moving ballads and scintillating rhythm songs in the style of the Great American Songbook songs of the big bands of the 1930s and 1940s. Lynn Stein is a popular jazz vocalist who teamed a few years with Jon Burr, a very popular musician and arranger. Together, they have made several albums and appear together as Jon and Lynn. Their performances together have a sleek harmonic style, very reminiscent of Jackie & Roy. Levy joined forces with them one night when all three were participating in the Wednesday Lounge Night at the Iguana. The result is this CD, a series of Levy-Burr collaborations .... Levy and Burr are both talented contemporary songwriters and the songs on this CD are worth listening to and performing. I look forward to seeing live presentations."
"Bob, I'm digging your new CD with Jon Burr...Good going man!"
"These are the kind of songs that Cole Porter and the Gershwin’s wrote back in the day. I love them all!" Esther Berlanga-Ryan,All About Jazz, Music From The Heart on LIVE 365.com Radio.http://www.estherberlangaryan.net/
"The brilliance of this collaboration defies reality! This trio has brought back the excitement of contemporary jazz!" Bert Gagnon, Neon Productions Radio
Reviews for "Me & My Best Friends"
Bob Levy's recently released cd "Me & My Best Friends" is a combination of fantastic modern jazz songs with a touch of bossa, blues/jazz and a hint of country/americana. This is an impressive collection of songs that creates a total enjoyable listening experience as you go from track to track. Some of the tracks are reminiscent of Bob's previous cd "Out In The Cold" released in 2006 which was an overwhelming success for this exceptional songwriter. But as you continue to listen to each track, you will hear a transition from what is expected with touches of blues and country/americana while maintaining continuity. The songs are powerfully passionate and fully displays the talent of award-winning songwriter Bob Levy and his co-writers Dennis Livingston, Karen Jacobsen, David Coons, Harriet Goldberg and the artists that perform these songs. This includes vocal powerhouses Perry Danos, John Foster, Carolyn Martin, Dane Vannatter, Juli Maners, Mike Lusk, Karen Jacobsen and Shelly Miller. Key tracks on this magnificent cd are "One Reason", "This Time", "You Can Say You're Sorry", "You Won't Be Breaking My Heart", "Could This Be Love", "Between My Broken Heart and You", "The Truth" and "Sooner Than Someday". "Me & My Best Friends" has 18 tracks of superior songs performed by outstanding artists.
Bert Gagnon, Neon Productions Radio on Musictogousa.com
Talented songwriter, Bob Levy, returns with another fine release of his original vocal numbers. Again performed by a crack Nashville unit led by veteran keyboardist, Jamey Whiting, the songs often return to a day when melody was king. Vocalists Perry Danos, Carolyn Martin, Dane Vanatter lend their talents to presenting a collection of 18 tunes that showcase a wider range of Levy's songwriting abilities.
Starting with Danos' smooth delivery on "Ever Since We Met" through Carolyn Martin's showstopping "Loving This Man" and the Brazilian-influenced title track, there are plenty of melodies that you'll find yourself humming along to. Cabaret jazz vocals, Broadway showtunes, flamenco ("You Can Say You're Sorry") pop ("Could This Be Love") and even bluesy rock ("One Reason") and country ("The Truth") are referenced with care. And again on this outing, the Nashville flavor shines through clearly, thanks to Whiting's Nashville pedigree and the professional sheen of the production. It is an appealing combination and one that fans of old-school songwriting will appreciate.
Throughout it all, Levy's lyrics stand as intelligent and sensitive and somewhat of a throwback to a time when lyrics told a story in an intelligible manner. Listening to the good singing, solid playing and pleasant songwriting from Levy and his friends makes for an enjoyable evening with friends indeed.
Review by Brad Walseth, Jazz Chicago
Review for "OUT IN THE COLD"
"Romantic songwriters seem such an anachronism in this post-modern world of traffic gridlock, rampant materialism, terrorist bombings and a general sense of antipathy toward anything subtle, joyful or hinting at disposable notions like romantic love. Fortunately, this approach is not completely a lost art, as proven by Bob Levy’s lovely collection of “new jazz standards,” Out in the Cold. With lyrics that rhyme and express romantic yearnings and regrets in an intelligent and sophisticated manner, Levy shows himself to be a gifted lyricist and melodicist. He has his perfect match in Nashville veteran Jerry Lundy, who crafts music that matches Levy’s vision perfectly. The production by Jamey Whiting is clear and clean, yet warm, and the Nashville touches (there is a little Charlie Rich in the piano) gives the jazz a slightly different and welcome tinge of Southern grace. The musicianship as well is professional and the guitar work (no credit listed) quite tasty.Singer Perry Danos is a wonderful fit for Levy’s songs, as his soothing voice reminds one of Tony Bennett. Guest vocalists Dane Vannatter and Shelly Miller add some flavor of their own as well, Vannatter with a little, lighter vocal timbre, and Miller bringing a nice change-of-pace female interpretation (in turn proving Levy can write for both sexes), but in the end it is the songs themselves that are the stars of the record. Songs like the title track, “Paris Without You” and “All I Really Need is You” bring back the glory days of the well-written standard, while “Why Pretend” and “Ask Me if I Care” sound like something one of the Nashville crossover greats like Eddy Arnold would have done — reminding us, as in the case of Ray Charles, just how close the classic country music was to the jazz tradition. Meanwhile, “What Were You Thinking” with Miller’s sweet vocals over a nice Latin-tinged composition is another treat, reminding me a bit of Brazil ’66 style pop. I have the feeling we may be hearing some of Levy’s new standards entering the repertoire of cabaret singers seeking new high-quality songs. Meanwhile, for lovers of smooth, old-school jazz, this is the perfect opportunity to turn the lights down low and share a quiet break from the tumult of modern life with a special someone." Brad Walseth,JazzChicago.net "For those who have said that they don’t write songs like they used to, Bob Levy proves them wrong. Bob's songs are timeless and not topical. They harken back to the classical Great American Songbook, when melodies were strong and the lyrics caressed the notes instead of squashing them like so many contemporary song lyrics do. His themes are timeless too and his songs are satisfying to sing. They swing lightly and my musicians like playing them and they appreciate the jazzy chord changes. The songs are strong enough so that there is not much need to over-interpret or over sing. I just enjoy the ride like I would a great Ellington song. I was drawn to the lyrics of these songs. There's some nice depth to both songs that I recorded, but they don't get sappy or sentimental. Most songwriters today are knocking us over the head with syllables. Bob's songs have none of this harshness. They are sweet and simple but not simple-minded. I love the lyrics from top to bottom. I love the music, how the words sit on the notes. His songs are classic and understated. Absolutely memorable!" DANE VANNATTER,Backstage Magazine's 2006 Bistro Award Winner
"Songwriters deserve recognition for their talents and here we have the great songwriting abilities of Bob Levy. Bob has demonstrated in his "OUT IN TH COLD" CD, that he is a major influence in independent music, particularly in jazz. Each song is silky smooth with seamless verse to bridge to chorus transitions. He has adopted the old school approach to songwriting where vocal phrasing and melodies blend together naturally and has familiarity. The theme is timeless as it is a 'Love' CD in it's various forms and the piano backing adds to the old jazz club mood. Each song goes where you expect them to, lyrically and instrumentally so there are no surprises, but in this high quality CD, surprises and gimmicks are not needed because of the superior songwriting talent of Bob Levy and the superb performances of Perry Danos and Dane Vannatter. Key tracks are Why Pretend?, Paris Without You, That Sky Of Blue and Nothing Like You. This is a brilliant project by this songwriter and all that took part in it. From songwriting to performance to orchestration to production. This has hit the bullseye with us and with our listeners. Jazz enthusiasts now have something to be happy about. OUT IN THE COLD may be the best set of jazz songs in your library!" Bert Gagnon,Neon Productions Radio, The Songwriter's Network
"Bob Levy has given us some real treasures here. A few of my favorites are "What Are We Doing here?" "Paris Without You," and "What Do We Do Now?" The vocals on this CD are equally outstanding! As a singer myself, I have to say again, thank God for good songwriters like this!" JULIE ESPOSITO, LA Vocalist "Bob Levy's songs have a very warm and swinging sound and style. Kudo's on his talent!" ROSEANNA VITRO, Challenge Record Artist & 2004 US Jazz Ambassador "Out In the Cold…Love the songs! Love them all! Keep them coming." SHAWN RYAN, Jazz/Cabaret & Recording Artist, LA "Scintillating lyrics...Bob Levy has a way with words. Just beautiful!" LORETTA CORMIER, Jazz Vocalist & Recording Artist, TX "Bob Levy’s ‘Why Pretend?’ is absolutely a standard. Wonderful stuff!” KAREN JACOBSEN, Pop Singer, Songwriter & Recording Artist, NYC "It's easy to see that Bob Levy enjoys writing jazz and excels at it!" DAMIAN MARCHAND, Vocalist & Recording Artist, Brandon, SD "Wow! Absolutely wonderful! Beautiful songs and great vocals. A very gifted songwriter indeed." DEBRA CILINGIN, Jazz Vocalist, Norwalk, CT "Out In The Cold" is so smooth and classy! JANET FISHER, Goodnight Kiss Music Publishing, BMI
"A MUSICAL CELEBRATION" Introducing The Songs Of Bob Levy “On June 24, "A Musical Celebration - introducing the Songs of Bob Levy" was performed at the Laurie Beechman Theater on West 42nd. Street in New York City. Tedd Firth on piano led the trio with Steve Doyle on Bass and George Farrell on Drums. The cast featured award winning jazz and cabaret stars: Barbara Brussell, Marcus Goldhaber, Laurie Krauz, Sue Matsuki, Dane Vannatter, Vincent Wolfe and special guest pianist-singer-composer Ronny Whyte….It was refreshing to hear songs that had form, expressive lyrics and catchy melodies instead of the stream of consciousness droning that passes for music these days….Hopefully, Bob and his terrific singers and musicians will repeat this show soon. There is a saying, ‘once is enough.’ but definitely not in this case!” Linda Amiel Burns, TheaterScene.net "The songs of Bob Levy are a resource well worth mining when looking for good new material, and this festive celebration was as fine an introduction to his work as one could wish for. Sue Matsuki and Dane Vannatter co-hosted the proceedings with equal measures of affection and admiration, and they shared the singing honors with several other performers. To a man (or woman), all of the artists did commendable work, with Laurie Krauz knocking it out of the ballpark with her three numbers." Roy Sander, New York Critic and Columnist
"If you're a songwriter showcasing your material to the cabaret public or to singers who might use it, you couldn't find a more entertaining way than that used by songwriter and lyricist Bob Levy. Hailed as a "musical celebration" and presented as a Sunday afternoon one-shot at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, the hour-and-a half program featured seventeen of Levy's songs, performed by a mighty collection of jazz and cabaret talent. Organized and directed by jazz singer Sue Matsuki, the show - informal in style, with each performer introducing the next - included Boston's Dane Vannatter, Canadian singer Vincent Wolfe, jazz singers Laurie Krauz and Marcus Goldhaber, top vocalist Barbara Brussell, pianist/singer Ronny Whyte, and Sue herself." Peter Haas, Cabaret Scenes Magazine “The show in New York was fabulous! It was so wonderful to hear all your music! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love love love to sing some of your tunes! Awesome!” Gretchen Reinhagen, Vocalist, NYC
“This was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon! It was wonderful to hear all these fabulous musicians performing such rich, wonderful & varied material! Congrats ” Suzanne Carrico, Vocalist, NYC “I couldn't be happier for you !!!!! What a dream come true for you. I adored your lineup and songs. You must be smiling from ear to ear. God bless. Now it's time to RELAX and bask in the love.” Leslie Orofino, Vocalist & Actress, Westport, CT “That was a truly amazing show. You must be so proud! Your musicians showed the highest respect for the music...the songs were great, the arrangements were great, the voices were great. You're the envy of every songwriter in that room. I still haven't sorted out all my impressions, but I know I was especially moved by Ronny Whyte's sensitive reading of your song for your mother, and was completely blown away by Laurie Krauz' spontaneous scat when she lost her lines... Congratulations on a hugely successful event. I really admire all your very classy touches like the programs and cards at the tables and the unobtrusive and obviously professional video...your business and artistic background has no doubt been very useful.” Powers Mc Elhone, ASCAP Songwriter, CT “Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed your show. Great songs! Really. It was interesting to hear the various arrangements & styles the different performers used to interpret your music.” Joe Peck, Vocalist/Actor, WDC “What a triumph! We had such a terrific time on Sunday. . .the performances of your songs were completely over the top. What a treat to have such an amazingly talented group of individuals gathered in one place, and to be there exclusively in honor of your music -- I can only imagine what a true thrill it must have been for you, as it certainly was for us! Our heartiest congratulations for a fantastic show. But then again, such winning songs could only create a winning day!” Cindy & David Callahan, CT