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July/August 2006

Rob Levit
Touch the Spirit
Symbol System

In the notes for his fine album Touch the Spirit, guitarist Rob Levit credits a list of primary influences on his music, citing Tim Reynolds (guitarist with Dave Matthews as well as a unique solo artist and gifted player), Keith Jarrett and John McLaughlin (especially his classic early acoustic album My Goal’s Beyond) and Pat Metheny. Those artistic touchstones in mind, listening to Levit’s album has a kind of larger continuity, stretching beyond the typical range of the acoustic guitar scene.

Over the course of 24 varied but somehow unified tracks, Levit shows the impressive scope of his musical voice, without merely trying to impress. The short, introspective piece “Radiance” is dedicated to Jarrett—whose delicate and experimental album Spirits is one of Levit’s favorites—but we also sense an inspirational link to My Goal’s Beyond in its searching chord progression and distilled emotional air. Elsewhere on the album’s eclectic landscape, he manages some virtuosic tap-and-hammer-on percussive work, spins out spidery electric solos and experiments with loopy layering and meditative pieces reminiscent of Steve Tibbetts. But enough of the comparison and influence game: What impresses most is the sense of a gifted musician at one with his instrument and speaking in multiple dialects.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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