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For a more accurate representation of these performances' sound & instrumentation
as heard over a full sound system, listen to the audio samples with a headset.
 

All recordings  2002- 2017 Different Drum Music
All rights reserved (ASCAP)

 

 

 

 

[]
WENDY BOULDING
& ADAM LEVIN
 
 

Wendy on vocals, pianos, synthesizers, organ, and sampled strings, brass, flutes, bass & drums
Adam on pianos, synthesizers, organs, vocals, and sampled guitars, strings, harp, flutes, basses, tuned percussion & drums

Originals

Covers  





A Place in my Heart
(Levin) Beatles: In My Life
Do You Feel It?
(Levin-Pellicciaro)
Lady Madonna
Do You Want To Be With Me
(Boulding)

Penny Lane
Don’t Make My Heart Afraid to Dream (Boulding)

She’s Leaving Home
Don’t Want to Be Wrong Again (Levin-Ptasznik)
Phil Collins: Against All Odds
Emily
(Levin)

You Know What I Mean
Every Time I Hear Your Voice (Levin-Ptasznik)
Randy Crawford: Imagine
Everything She Needs (Levin)
Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush: Don’t Give Up
Feathers Everywhere (Boulding)
Genesis: Cuckoo Cocoon
Feeling What I Feel (Levin-Stoller)
Gentle Giant: Memories of Old Days
Guardian Angel (Levin)
Steve Hackett with Randy Crawford: Hoping Love Will Last
Hold A Vision (Boulding) Elton John: Someone Saved My Life Tonight
I Stare Into the Face of Beauty (Boulding) King: Supernatural
If I Gave You My Heart
(Levin-Stoller)
Maroon 5: Sunday Morning  [#2]
Ivory Tower
(Levin)
Corinne Bailey Rae: Put Your Records On
Keep Walking (Ode to 9/11) (Levin)
Todd Rundgren: Hello It’s Me
Land of the Free
(Levin)
James Taylor: On the 4th of July
Let It Go  [#2]
(Levin-Stoller)
Brian Wilson (Beach Boys): Don’t Worry Baby
Midtown Meditation (Boulding)

God Only Knows
Our Perfect Love
(Levin-Stoller)
Stevie Wonder: Creepin’
Say It
(Boulding-Levin)
So Alive
(Boulding-Levin)
Something in the Way   (Levin)
The Lucky Few (Boulding)
Thinking of You (Levin-Ptasznik)


Under Your Spell (Elizabeth's Dream) (Boulding)


Walking on Thin Ice
(Levin)


Walls Start Falling (Levin-Stoller)
Why Do You Love Me Right Now? (Boulding)


Words on the Wall (Levin)


Young Love (Boulding)


 

 

Who says accessible music can't be intelligent?  We're not talking Philip Glass or Aaron Copeland here.  Nor even Charles Ives.
 
Wendy Boulding and Adam Levin share a background of classical piano training and pop music listening. Wendy from the world of American soul and jazz, Adam from the less straightforward world of European ("progressive") art rock, or jazz- and classical-rock fusion, and the "psychedelic" movement that ushered it in.
 
What happens when you combine the two?  Musical adventure or chaos?  Passion or cerebralism?  Or just indigestion?  Well, you get original songwriting collaborations like "So Alive" and "Say It".  Remakes of Beatles and Peter Gabriel songs.  Along with other songs and diverse instrumentation Wendy and Adam are presenting.  You even get obscure, unlikely covers like "Hoping Love Will Last" -- a heart-rendering "belter" that can't decide whether it's pop or "prog".  Can't it be both? 

 

And who says a band needs more than two people?  In this age of workstations and state-of-the-art sound production, keyboardists Wendy Boulding and Adam Levin create a full group sound with double keyboards and vocals.  No instrumentation is spared in their live execution of Wendy’s R&B and Adam’s jazz-rock originals, or their impeccably faithful re-creation of ambitious, rarely covered pop songs.  Close your eyes and it’s all there… basses, drums, percussion, strings, brass, reeds, even guitars – along with pianos, organs and synthesizers.  As is, of course, Wendy’s soulful, virtuosic lead singing and embellishments and Adam’s pristine, supportive vocals and harmonies.  And, to boot, Wendy’s natural showmanship, chemistry and communication with an audience, during and between songs, shines through – often with spontaneous, hilarious results.  In short, a fun time is had by all, audience and performers alike.  In this comfortable, intimate setting, the bond between audience and artists is especially present – and evident in the audience’s enthusiasm and interaction with the performers.

 

Wendy and Adam’s new, live repertoire is more accessible, soulful and groove-based (not to mention fully produced) than ever before.  They kick it off with I Stare Into The Face of Beauty, Wendy’s funky ode to newfound love, combining her powerful vocal with her jazz piano playing.  Keeping up that energy level, they launch into Maroon 5’s soulful Sunday Morning, a recent hit with shades of Stevie Wonder (and written, coincidentally, by Adam Levine!)  That’s followed by the similarly spirited Hello It’s Me, Todd Rundgren’s classic pop hit, complete with rich vocal harmonies and embellishments.

 

The barometer drops several notches with Under Your Spell (Elizabeth’s Dream), Wendy’s melodic and lush romantic ballad about the unrequited love of – of all people – Queen Elizabeth I.  This open song plays like an open letter.  Continuing on that lyrical theme (minus the Queen), Wendy and Adam present their collaborative jazz ballad Say It.  Not one to disappoint, Wendy follows up her heart-rendering vocal in this song with yet another tasty, improvisational piano solo.

 

From romance to rat race (or the sublime to the ridiculous), they offer up the Beatles’ Lady Madonna with jangling, Fats Waller-style piano and a full horn section (speaking of fat).  As if to find relief, it’s followed by the lush and tender Hoping Love Will Last, a wistful ballad written, surprisingly, by Genesis alumnus Steve Hackett (note its guitar) for soul singer Randy Crawford.  Yet, it could almost pass as an Adam Levin song written as a vocal showcase for Wendy Boulding, who transforms it and truly makes it her own.  (As one observer wryly noted, "Steve Hackett and Randy Crawford's collaboration on 'Hoping Love Will Last' is where Adam and Wendy's musical backgrounds merge.") 

 

What would you do if someone was spreading baseless rumors about you?  Well, if you were Adam Levin, you'd write about it in the catchiest pop song of your life.  And if you were Wendy Boulding, you'd talk him into performing it with you and dispell those rumors in the process.  The result?  A Place In My Heart (If You Don't Know By Now).  Sometimes reality wins out over imagination.  Even in songs.  And bringing us a different slice of reality, and closing the set, is So Alive, Wendy and Adam's powerful, first songwriting collaboration inspired by the New York City Marathon, alive with Latin percussion and more improvisational piano soloing by Wendy.
 

Set two opens with Wendy's upbeat Midtown Meditation, a picturesque portrayal of Wednesday in Manhattan.  Adam's wailing organ solo improv helps capture the frenetic, funky city landscape described in the song.  That's followed by the equally festive On the 4th of July, a recent James Taylor song (which explains the presence, once again, of acoustic guitar!)  The song has a distinct flavor of Brazilian jazz.  That jazz element might explain why Wendy and Adam chose that particular song.  From the poetic romance of 4th of July to its darker, flip side, Wendy and Adam present the romantically cautious Don’t Want To Be Wrong Again, a jazz-rock romp written by Adam with Canadian writer Anne Ptasznik, with a hint of Anita Baker and Burt Bacharach and more rich vocal harmonies.  That’s followed by another “wishing” song, Imagine.  Here, John Lennon’s peace anthem gets the full, Wendy Boulding treatment (by way of Randy Crawford), rendering it one of Wendy’s most passionate performances in the show (or ever!)

 

Getting away from that glossy idealism, they follow it with the bitter realism of Ivory Tower, Adam’s percussive, swinging jazz shuffle reminiscent of Steely Dan, and a cluster-vocal showcase.  In further contrast, Wendy takes on singers Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush in Gabriel’s classic Don’t Give Up, a melancholy but encouraging portrayal of family survival in the face of unemployment and homelessness.  During it, Adam stands in for his “cousin” Tony Levin on roving bass (as well as pad synthesizer), and Wendy rises to the occasion by delivering a powerful gospel-style performance on both piano and lead vocal.

 

Reflecting a happier time and place, Wendy and Adam next perform the novelty item of the show, Penny Lane, from the Beatles’ ambitious “Sgt. Pepper” period.  In the tradition of Beatles tribute (impersonation) bands like Fab Faux and Strawberry Fields, Wendy and Adam pull out their keyboard chops and deliver a fun and impeccably faithful representation of the song’s originally recorded instrumentation and arrangement, right down to the piccolo trumpet solo (ala Wendy.)

 

Getting back to Planet Boulding-Levin, Wendy takes the vocal reigns once more with Feeling What I Feel, the perennial R&B pop ballad written by Adam with Peter Stoller, now enhanced with full, live production.  From vintage to “virgin” material, Wendy and Adam get political again with the new, poignant Land of the Free.  It’s Adam’s poetic answer to Imagine – as well as a veiled, post-election lament and rallying cry that’s ultimately hopeful, even optimistic.  However stirring or eloquent the song might be, Wendy’s yearning vocal embellishments really say it all.

 

Bringing us full circle and back home, the set closes with Wendy’s song Feathers Everywhere, an affirming, spiritual tale – and with a surprise ending that is as tongue-in-cheek as the music is “aurally delicious”, as one listener described it.  Does it get any better?

 

Well, maybe.  As a “bonus”, Wendy and Adam indulge the house in a game of “Stump the Band”, spontaneously breaking into audience-requested songs, including ones that neither of them have ever performed (but, hopefully, have heard).  This weekly ritual confirms the impression that there isn’t a song that Wendy hasn't heard or is unwilling to sing or play (and even dance to) at least once.  And sometimes the audience even joins in.  Why was ear training never this much fun back at the conservatory?  And in case anyone doesn't want to leave, Wendy occasionally winds the audience down by gracing them with some of her earlier originals like Sparkles, Mr. Capricorn Moon, I Wished for Snow, or Don't Make My Heart Afraid to Dream.  We'll try not to.  There's even the "obligatory" Coffee Boy, a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of coffee-making at coffeehouses.  If we can't hear it there, where can we?

 

So come and decide for yourself whether accessible music can be intelligent. And whether intelligent music can be passionate. Or just get coffee. Where's Leonard Bernstein when we need him? 

 

-- Rob Myman  

 


 

 

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