Howard Levy

Not to be confused with Howard Levi.
For the US Army Captain dermatologist and Vietnam War resister, see Charles Morgan, Jr., his legal representative.
Howard Levy

Howard Levy in concert
Background information
Born (1951-07-31) July 31, 1951
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazz fusion, Latin, folk, funk, world
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, record label owner
Instruments Harmonica
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Balkan Samba
Associated acts Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Trio Globo, Chévere de Chicago, Acoustic Express

Howard Levy (born July 31, 1951) is an American harmonica player, multi-instrumentalist, and owner of Balkan Samba Records. He was a founding member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones,[1] with whom he won a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the song "The Sinister Minister". He also won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition in 2012 for "Life in Eleven", a song written with Béla Fleck for the Flecktones' album Rocket Science (2011). He has worked with Arab-fusion musician Rabih Abou-Khalil, Latin jazz saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, Donald Fagen, and Paul Simon.

Music career

Levy was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied piano and pipe organ. For two years, he went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and participated in the jazz band.

Harmonica innovator

Levy plays in many genres: jazz, classical, rock, folk, Latin, blue, country, and world music. He drew attention for his chromatic playing style on a regular diatonic harmonica.[2] He discovered the overblow and overdraw techniques for chromatic playing in 1970. These allow a harmonica player to obtain all the missing chromatic notes in the Richter-tuned diatonic harmonica.

In 1995, he performed the "Harmonia Mundi Suite for Harmonica and Chamber Ensemble" in Chicago.[2] He composed a concerto for harmonica in 2001 and performed it with orchestras in the U.S. and Europe.

Forming groups

In 1988, Levy co-founded Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He won a Grammy for Pop Instrumental for the song "The Sinister Minister".[2] The band broke up in 1993. Levy toured with Kenny Loggins and appeared on his album Outside from the Redwoods. When the Flecktones reunited, Levy returned as touring member and recorded the album Rocket Science (2011).

In the 1990s Levy founded Trio Globo with Eugene Friesen and Glen Velez.[2] He leads another band, Acoustic Express and is music director of the Latin jazz group Chévere de Chicago.

He is the founder of Balkan Samba Records. The roster includes Chévere de Chicago, Alberto Mizrahi and Trio Globo, Fox Fehling, and Norman Savitt.

Touring and recording with others

Levy has toured or recorded with Ben Sidran, Bob Gibson, Bobby McFerrin, Bryan Bowers, Chuck Mangione, Claudio Roditi, David Bromberg, Dennis DeYoung, Dolly Parton, Donald Fagen, Holly Cole, Jerry Butler, Mark Nauseef, Miroslav Tadic, Paquito D'Rivera, Pete Seeger, Steve Goodman, Terry Callier, and Tom Paxton.

Awards and honors


As leader or co-leader


  1. Newsom, Jim. "Stranger's Hand". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Howard Levy | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  3. "Harmonica Artist Howard Levy – Levyland» Discography". Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. "Howard Levy | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 October 2016.

External links

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