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Album Review

Pianist and writer Chuck Leavell has had a long and versatile career, including a stint with the Allman Brothers Band, his own jazz fusion band, Sea Level, and has toured and done session work with the likes of Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Aretha Franklin, not to mention his long-standing arrangement with the Rolling Stones. He has also written a couple of books, including an influential book on forestry and stewardship, and recorded his own solo albums, of which Southscape is the third (if you count his Christmas album). A light sort of jazz- rock affair, Southscape is intended to be a musical portrait of the American South, and while it isn't exactly a tour de force that makes you smell the kudzu or make you want to eat a peach, it has a pleasant flow and feels comfortably familiar, even on first listen. Working with a rhythm section of Chad Cromwell on drums and Michael Rhodes on bass, and getting added support from sax players Tim Ries and Randall Bramblett (as well as guitarist Larry Carlton on two tracks), Leavell plays strong, anthemic piano that brims with joyful certainty. Highlights include the elegant "Savannah" and the magnificent, soaring "Jessica," which Leavell originally co-wrote with guitarist Dickey Betts for the Allman Brothers in the early 1970s. It's a little odd at first to hear "Jessica"'s familiar lead lines done on piano rather than on electric guitars, but it remains a beautiful composition in any fashion, and it conjures the South, and Georgia, in particular, as well as any melody in recent memory.


Born: 28 April 1952 in Birmingham, AL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In the who's who of rock & roll, Chuck Leavell is a very big someone. His piano and keyboard playing has graced the albums and/or stages of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band, the Black Crowes, George Harrison, Blues Traveler, the Marshall Tucker Band, Hank Williams Jr., and a long list of others. Leavell was born in Birmingham, AL, on April 28, 1952. At age 13 he formed his first band, the Misfitz, playing both organ and guitar. While still in high school, he played on his...
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Southscape, Chuck Leavell
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