MEDITATIONS was originally conceived as part of a series of meditation/relaxation albums Pete was producing. Normally doing them exclusively with electronic textures, Pete decided to work with his friend, premier Jazz flautist Ali Ryerson on this project. Ali did sensual improvisations on alto flute against a backdrop of Pete's lush electronic orchestrations.
In addition to compliments from listeners, the album has received rave reviews from an unexpected quarter - massage therapists, who were using the music during therapy sessions to relax their patients. The music, as intended, lulls the listener into a kind of dream state of relaxation. Each of the 4 pieces on the album follows a barely perceptible song form, with changes between "verse", "bridge" and "coda" being so subtle, you hardly realize the music has shifted.
Just a note: The album appears to be short, but each of the 4 pieces is actually 15 minutes long. Expect digital downloads to take a bit longer than usual.
Relax and enjoy.
Ali has emerged as one of the most exciting and versatile flutists on the scene today. Born in 1952 in New York, her life was set to music from the start by her father, Art Ryerson, a first-rate and widely sought-after guitarist of the Big Band era and NYC studio scene of the 40's - 70's. Her three brothers, Art, Rich, and John are also musicians and provided Ali with her first professional opportunity, performing in Rich and Art's jazz-rock band while in her teens. In most cases, being taught by an elder sibling often means learning through the school of hard knocks. In the Ryerson family, however, it was strictly a case of positive encouragement. With her father holding frequent jam sessions at home, Ali was exposed to some of New York's finest -- Milt Hinton, Barry Galbraith and Lou Stein to name just a few. Said her brother Rich, "The advantage she had growing up is that a lot of people learn jazz by playing along with records. She got to absorb it right there."
The rich exposure and early training in playing and improvising with other musicians proved invaluable. "The essential element in jazz is using your ears," says Ryerson. "You're put in the middle with other musicians and you learn to play -- it's the way you develop the true jazz feeling." From 1973 to 1977 Ali toured extensively with the singing team Sandler and Young and entertainer Billy Fellows. In order to continue her musical education, Ryerson then enrolled in the Hartt school of Music in Connecticut where she studied classical performance and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1979. Ali has studied under the mentorship of Harold Bennett of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, John Wion of the New York City Opera Orchestra and Julius Baker of the New York Philharmonic.
All of this training is wonderfully evident in her warm, full-bodied tone that emanates from a flawless and spirited technique. But perhaps her most accomplished attribute as a jazz flutist is her uncanny ability to swing, a characteristic incorrectly assumed to be outside the scope of the instrument. She simply disproves the myth with a tasteful juxtaposition of spacing and note-bending ability, all of which help to create a rich rhythmic weave that sets off and highlights a variety of sound texture. From gently lucid to boldly percussive, her playing embodies the spirit and stylings of past greats, such as Miles Davis and Bill Evans, two of her early influences.
In 1980, she moved to Montreal for 8 months, with a duo contract at the Meridien Hotel. Drawn back to New York in 1981, she played in leading jazz clubs, among them Sweet Basil and Bradley's. In search of further opportunities to enhance her career, Ali spent the '80s traveling back and forth between Europe and the United States, establishing her home base in Belgium. Ali has become a regular on the Belgian jazz scene and continues to maintain close relations there. Her involvement has resulted in numerous recordings with some of the most gifted musicians of Belgium, like Steve Houben (saxophone), and an ongoing partnership with pianist and composer Charles Loos.
It is a tribute to her versatility as a musician and her value as an artist that she has been able to perform with such diverse talents as Dr. Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Stephane Grappelli, Frank Wess, Red Rodney, Laurindo Almeida, Art Farmer, Maxine Sullivan, Roy Haynes, Julius Baker, and (as principal flutist with the Monterey Bay Symphony) with Luciano Pavarotti.
Ali has toured the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan and Africa, and has performed in many major jazz festivals, including the famed Monterey Jazz festival, the JVC in New York, Guinness Festival in Scotland, Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, and Carnegie Hall. Ali has released over a dozen jazz albums, the first four on European labels. She was then signed by legendary record producer Bob Thiele who produced two albums on his Red Baron label. Ali then signed with Concord Jazz for an additional three recordings. Jazziz put her Concord debut album on its Critic's Picks for 1995. Ali recently performed with Dr. Billy Taylor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. This performance was taped for national broadcast on NPR. In December 2001 Ali performed as guest soloist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Ali was musical director of the Catskill Jazz Festival 2001, and was recently appointed the musical director of the Jazz at the Point festival being held in Catskill, NY in August, 2002.
In late 1996, Ali encountered guitarist Joe Beck. They formed a duo, named ALTO (due to the special guitar Joe invented for this formation) and have been touring extensively (a.o. a full month at the Blue Note in Japan) and recorded two albums.
In a diverse music career spanning several decades, keyboardist/arranger Pete Levin has performed and recorded with hundreds of Jazz and Pop artists - including Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Lenny White, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Robbie Robertson and John Scofield - receiving critical accolades for his work during a 15 year association with the legendary Gil Evans, and his 8 year stint with jazz icon Jimmy Giuffre.
While playing French Horn with the Gil Evans Orchestra in the early 70s, Levin brought a Moog Synthesizer to a gig at New York’s Village Vanguard. Already known as a “go to” synthesizer specialist, Pete was at the vanguard of that technology. Gil loved it and Levin’s role was permanently changed as the band transformed itself into the electric/acoustic hybrid ensemble that captivated audiences worldwide for years, winning two Grammy® awards along the way.
An in-demand New York session keyboardist, Levin has also created electronic realizations for hundreds of TV commercials, dramatic series and feature films, including “Missing in Action,” “Lean on Me,” “Silver Bullet,” “Red Scorpion,” “The Color of Money,” “Maniac,” “Spin City,” “America’s Most Wanted” and “Star Trek.” In a dizzying array of unrelated commissions, Levin composed orchestral scores for the feature film “Zelimo” and for a stage production of “The Dybbuk;” had the honor of composing the anthem for the 1992 United Nations Earth summit, “The Future is in Our Hands,” performing it twice for the U.N. General Assembly; and, as far removed from Jazz as it gets, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for writing the official military band arrangement of the U.S. Infantry song.
In 1990, Levin signed with Gramavision to release his first solo jazz album, “Party in the Basement,” followed by “Solitary Man” in 1991. Collaborating with drummer Danny Gottlieb, Pete released “The New Age of Christmas” on Atlantic and “Masters in this Hall” for Gramavision. In the years following, he released four New Age CDs for Alternate Mode Productions, and a variety of eclectic albums for independent labels.
In 2007, Pete Levin returned to the cutting edge as a band leader with “Deacon Blues,” tipping his hat to his mainstream jazz roots by recording in the traditional organ trio format. This was followed in the spring of 2008 with another cutting edge organ trio album, "Certified Organic."