Sea Level was a Southern rock/funk/fusion jam band that mixed jazz, blues and rock and existed between 1976 and 1981. Initially it was an offshoot of The Allman Brothers Band, but as tensions grew between the loss of two of its founding members and personal grievances between Gregg Allman and other band mates and associates, Sea Level took on a life of its own as an independent band.
After the initial breakup of the Allman Brothers Band when Gregg Allman and Dicky Betts left, most of the remaining members who evolved into Sea Level were the trio “We Three” comprising bassist Lamar Williams, drummer Jaimoe and Chuck Leavell (piano, keyboards, vocals). The trio would occasionally open shows for the group in 1975 and 1976. With the Allmans disbanding in 1976, the trio added guitarist Jimmy Nalls and named the band based on a phonetic pun of their new bandleader Chuck Leavell’s name: “C. Leavell.” They toured relentlessly, experimenting and refining their sound, eventually signing with Capricorn Records (home of the Allman Brothers) and recording their self-titled debut album in 1977.
After the release of their first album, the group expanded to a septet with the additions of Davis Causey (guitar), George Weaver (drums, percussion) and Randall Bramblett (saxophones, keyboards and vocals). That configuration recorded the group’s second album, Cats on the Coast, in 1978 (with the leadoff track, “That’s Your Secret”, reaching #50 on the Billboard Hot 100). By the time of the third album, On the Edge, Jaimoe and Weaver had both left, replaced by Joe English. The sextet of Bramblett, Causey, English, Leavell, Nalls and Williams recorded the fourth album, Long Walk on a Short Pier (1979), unreleased in the United States for nearly twenty years, adding percussionist Matt Greeley for their fifth and final album, Ball Room, issued on Arista in 1980. Their greatest hits album (CD) wrapped up their body of work, minus a handful of appearances on various compilation albums (mostly Southern Rock). They were also featured on a 1978 live Southern Rock album which included a live version of “Grand Larceny.”
Leavell later emerged as a much sought-after session musician and producer, touring with Eric Clapton and eventually becoming a “permanent” session player touring with the Rolling Stones.
In 1998, he issued his debut solo LP, a Christmas album called What’s in That Bag? and more recently Forever Blue that includes solo versions of two classic Sea Level compositions: “Whole Lotta Colada” and “Song for Amy.” He also released Southscape, an album of Southern anthems that hearkens back to his Southern roots.
Jimmy Nalls, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, died on June 22, 2017
Arista Records 1980
Long Walk On A Short Pier
Capricorn Records 1979
On The Edge
Capricorn Records 1978
Cats On The Coast
Capricorn Records 1977
Capricorn Records 1977