Howard Levy in concert
July 31, 1951|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz fusion, Latin, folk, funk, world|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, record label owner|
|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, 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.
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.
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. 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 1988, Levy co-founded Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He won a Grammy for Pop Instrumental for the song "The Sinister Minister". 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).
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
- Joseph Jefferson Award, Best Original Music for a Play (1986)
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental, "The Sinister Minister", Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (1997)
- Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, "Life in Eleven" (2012)
As leader or co-leader
- Trio Globo (Silver Wave, 1994)
- Carnival of Souls (Silver Wave, 1995)
- The Old Country (M.A., 1996)
- The Stranger's Hand (Tone Center, 1999)
- Cappuccino (Balkan Samba, 2004) with Fox Fehling
- Secret Dream (Balkan Samba, 2005)
- Howard Levy & Paul Sprawl (Balkan Samba, 2005)
- Time Capsules (Balkan Samba, 2009)
- Tonight and Tomorrow (CD Baby/Chicago Sessions, 2009)
- Silver & Black (Enja, 2009)
- Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica & Orchestra (Balkan Samba, 2010)
- Alone and Together (Balkan Samba, 2010)
- Steering by the Stars (Stonecutter, 2010)
- Out of the Box (Balkan Samba, 2012)
- Matzah to Menorah (Balkan Samba, 2012)
- First Takes (Balkan Samba, 2014)
- Newsom, Jim. "Stranger's Hand". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "Howard Levy | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- "Harmonica Artist Howard Levy – Levyland» Discography". www.levyland.com. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- "Howard Levy | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 October 2016.