Zero’s Greg Anton took part in a musical tribute night to honor the passing of his closest friend from childhood, Marty Levine, who in the 1990s created the Blue Star Cafe, a music venue in Hartford, Connecticut, which presented Anton and Steve Kimock’s band Zero, as well as acts like Taj Mahal and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The tribute night is now going to be released as Starfire both digitally and with several vinyl options. The records will come with a complimentary digital download that will include four bonus songs.
When Zero came to town in 1993, Toni Fishman to record the shows and they all became friends. Fishman went on to found TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik, a microphone company, which also hosts a recording studio and a Soundstage for live concert events.
When Levine passed in 2019, and Fishman invited Anton to come back to Connecticut to celebrate Levine’s life with music. Other players included Tim Palmieri (Lotus), tenor saxophonist Rob Somerville (Kung Fu), keyboardist Beau Sasser (Kung Fu), bass/vocalist Dave Livolsi (John Scofield) and Anton on drums.
They played psychedelic versions of classics like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Little Wing,” Anton’s own “Gregg’s Eggs,” and tunes by Freddie Hubbard, Grant Green, and the Bar-Kays, among others.
As Anton recalls:
For me, it was an alchemy of liquid musicianship and pristine sound quality that flowed together like magic. Tim Palmieri (Lotus) is one of the best electric guitar improvisors in the country; Rob Somerville (Kung Fu) gets a soulful tenor sax sound made in heaven, Beau Sasser (Kung Fu) created a king-size organ bed for us all to bounce on, and me and bassist Dave Livolsi (John Scofield) locked in the rhythm section like we’d played together our whole lives. Live improvisational music can at times be sublime…once in a while the recording/mixing/mastering engage like a Rubik’s Cube…and on that rare occasion when everything clicks synchronistically…voila!….STARFIRE.
Greg Anton has has played on over 40 albums and performed or recorded with artists such as John Cipollina, John Lee Hooker, Otis Taylor, members of the Grateful Dead, Nicky Hopkins, Perry Farrel, Stanley Jordan, and many others. He’s produced music for film, TV and theater and co-written 27 songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Anton is also the author of the Rock ‘n Roll novel Face the Music.
One of Levine’s favorite things was a 1956 Oldsmobile Starfire, which gave the album its name. Stanley “Mouse” Miller, who got his start as an artist in Detroit’s car culture, contributed a cover.