Multiple Grammy-Award Winner Howard Levy
is an acknowledged master of the diatonic harmonica, a superb pianist, innovative composer, recording artist, bandleader, teacher, producer, and Chicago area resident. His musical travels have taken him all over the geographical world and the musical map. Equally at home in Jazz, Classical music, Rock, Folk, Latin, and World Music, he brings a fresh lyrical approach to whatever he plays. This has made him a favorite with audiences worldwide, and a recording artist sought after by the likes of Kenny Loggins, Dolly Parton, Paquito D’Rivera, Styx, Donald Fagen, and Paul Simon. As a sideman, Howard has appeared on hundreds of CDs and played on many movie soundtracks.
He is perhaps best known for the four CD’s he recorded with Bela Fleck and The Flecktones, a unique band that set the musical world on its ear back in the early 1990’s. He got back together with the band in 2010 and recorded the CD Rocket Science. They toured extensively in 2011-2012, and Howard won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for “Life in Eleven”, which he wrote with Bela Fleck.
Howard’s other prominent collaborations include three CDs with Trio Globo (Glen Velez and Eugene Friesen), two with Lebanese Oud player/composer Rabih Abou Khalil, and one with the avant- garde Jazz Riessler/Levy/Matinier Trio.
Howard is music director and chief composer for the Latin/Jazz group Chévere de Chicago. He produced and released the band’s CD Secret Dream, and Time Capsules with his acoustic swing group Acoustic Express, on his own label, Balkan Samba Records. His solo Jazz CD, Alone and Together on Balkan Samba, and his Jazz trio CD Tonight and Tomorrow on the Chicago Sessions label, both received 4-star reviews in DownBeat.
In 2011 Howard also released a classical CD featuring his “Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica and Orchestra,” the first concerto ever composed for the diatonic harmonica. He has performed the piece more than 20 times in the US and Europe. He also has an online harmonica school.
Howard’s harmonica playing was featured on the soundtracks of “A Family Thing”, “Striptease” , “A Time to Kill” , “Straight Talk”, and “Vietnam, A Long Time Coming”. In the dance world, Howard collaborated with Indian dancer Ranee Ramaswamy in “Where the Hands Go, The Eyes Follow”, a fusion of photography, poetry, dance, and music, all live, with poets Robert Bligh and Coleman Barks. In 2004 he performed with members of The Hubbard St. and Joffrey dance companies in “Moody Hollow”, choreographed by Lauri Stallings. In theater, he won a Joseph Jefferson Award for his music for Brecht’s “Puntila and his Hired Man” (1986). In 1997 he co-wrote the music for “Tales From Trashmania”, a one woman show by Bonnie Koloc.