Rick Wakeman discusses possible new studio collaboration with Tony Levin and Ian Paice

Former longtime Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman says a new collaboration could be in the works with Tony Levin and Ian Paice. Levin has played with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and Paul Simon, among many others. Paice is the only founding member of Deep Purple to have appeared in all of its many incarnations over the years.

“There is so much other stuff in the pipeline that I will be trying to bring to fruition this month, which include a possible trio album with Tony Levin and Ian Paice,” Wakeman confirmed on his Web site.

Paice was also part of the early-1980s editions of Whitesnake, along with two other members of the so-called Mark III lineup of Deep Purple — singer David Coverdale and organist Jon Lord. The drummer eventually appeared on four Whitesnake albums, 1980’s Ready an’ Willing and Live … in the Heart of the City, 1981’s Come an’ Get It and 1982’s Saints and Sinners. Deep Purple bandmate Steve Morse once said of Ian Paice: “He’s like a real heavy Ringo.” Perhaps underscoring that connection, Paice has performed with both George Harrison (on 1989’s “Lethal Weapon III” soundtrack) and Paul McCartney (1999’s Run Devil Run). Over the years, he has also worked with Gary Moore and was part of the supergroup, Paice, Ashton and Lord with singer Tony Ashton.

Meanwhile, Levin has played on literally countless sessions, from jazz (Buddy Rich, Herbie Mann) to rock (John Lennon, on the former Beatle’s final two studio releases, Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey in 1980-83.) He has also released a series of well-received recordings as a leader or co-leader, including the Bruford Levin Upper Extremities project and 2011’s Levin Torn White — which earned Something Else! Reviews’ album of the year honors. Sprinkled in between have been a series of live dates with the Stick Men, a group featuring Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto and touch guitarist Markus Reuter. They recently toured with fellow Crimson bandmate Adrian Belew’s Power Trio, as well.

Wakeman, who’s just concluded his own series of dates with fellow former Yes member Jon Anderson, did not give specifics on the proposed collaboration with Levin and Paice. He said everything was still in the “early stages of discussions with all concerned, but looking very promising.”

Here’s a look at our recent thoughts on Rick Wakeman, Tony Levin and Deep Purple. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

JON ANDERSON AND RICK WAKEMAN: THE LIVING TREE IN CONCERT: PART ONE (2011): Anyone expecting the cosmic prog-rock journeys of this duo’s work as members of Yes must have been a little disappointed — and not just with the spare instrumentation. More striking than the lean, guitar-free musical structures was how intimate, even grounded this concert performance was. If anything, though, this album speaks to both the individual trials and the shared will to overcome for both singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Each has had to grapple against some terrifying health problems, even as Yes continued on without them.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: BASSIST TONY LEVIN The latest incarnation for Levin is as part of a fearless new trio album with guitarist David Torn and Yes drummer Alan White Part prog, part free-form improvisational music, part noise rock, Levin Torn White brings in each of their familiar textures and sounds, yet sounds somehow completely new. In another entertaining SER Sitdown, the busy bassist talks about the new Levin Torn White album, as well as a few landmark moments from his fascinating career.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: YES: We dig back into deep cuts and favorites from Fragile, Relayer, Drama, and 90125 — including “South Side of the Sky,” highlighted by “Chris Squire’s gurgling bassline. Listen closely: Bill Bruford is also mesmerizing behind the drums. It seems simple but it gathers steam as the song wears on, packing in more twists and turns than seems necessary and yet seems perfectly sensible. Rick Wakeman compliments all of this with organ and, in the breakdown, a beautifully elegant piano line. On top of it all, Jon Anderson’s airy vocals narrate a polar expedition gone tragically wrong.”

DEEP PURPLE – SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE (1968; 2011 REISSUE): Coming together in 1967, Deep Purple were like a lot of bands of the day, as their mission was to push the sonic envelope as far as possible and create something new and exciting. Based out of Hertford, England, the group achieved their goal straight away. Dramatic and bombastic, Deep Purple played a tumultuous blend of heavy metal and progressive rock before such labels arrived into being, tagging them pioneers of the genres.

ONE TRACK MIND: TONY LEVIN ON “BIG TIME,” “THRAK,” “LATE IN THE EVENING,” OTHERS: Find out more about the unique slap-bass sound he created in Gabriel’s hit song “Big Time.” Learn how an early-1980s gig alongside guitarist David Torn led to a fascinating new trio project with drummer Alan White. Make connections from across Levin’s career back to White’s band Yes, and see how separate moments as a sideman with Paul Simon underscore the bassist’s celebrated changeability.

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