Howard Levy is a musician without limits. His musical adventures include journeys into jazz, pop, rock, world music, Latin, classical, folk, blues, country, theater, and film. He has appeared on hundred of cd’s, won a Grammy (1997), won a Joseph Jefferson Award (1986) for Best Original Music for a Play, and has performed many times on American and European television and radio.
Universally acknowledged as the world’s most advanced diatonic harmonica player, Howard developed a fully chromatic style on the standard 10 – hole diatonic harmonica, revolutionizing harmonica playing and taking the instrument into totally new territory. He is also an accomplished pianist and composer, and plays many other instruments as well, including flute, ocarina, mandolin, saxophone, and percussion.
Howard was a founding member of the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He toured and recorded two albums with Kenny Loggins, and formed Trio Globo with Eugene Friesen and Glen Velez . Howard has also performed and/or recorded with Dolly Parton, Styx, Bobby McFerrin, Paul Simon, John Prine, Paquito D’Rivera, Ken Nordine, and many others, as well as touring and recording extensively in Europe with artists such as Rabih Abou Khalil and Michael Riessler. Recent Highlights
In 2003, Howard released a jazz duo cd with Naumberg Award-winning pianist Anthony Molinaro, entitled The Molinaro/Levy Project “Live”. In 2002, he performed “On the Other Side…” (a triple concerto composed for him, a clarinetist and an accordianist) with The Bavarian State Radio Orchestra in Munich, Germany. In 2001, Howard was commisioned by The Illinois Philharmonic to compose a Harmonica Concerto, the first ever written for diatonic harmonica. Since the debut, he has performed it 9 times, with more perfomances scheduled.
Howard Levy studied piano and theory at The Manhattan School of Music in N.Y. for four years, then studied pipe organ with Carl Lambert for two years. He attended Northwestern University in Evanston, IL for two years, playing in the Jazz band.
As a music educator, Howard has taught hundreds of students privately, and has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Berklee, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Francis Parker School, given jazz clinics at high schools, and has given hundreds perfomances of “Music from around the World,” a program of international music for children and adults.
He also taught harmonica for 7 summers at The Augusta Heritage Arts Workshop in Elkins, WV, and World Music in 1984 at The Omega Institute in New York.
Howard has 2 instructional videos. The first is on Homespun Tapes called “New Directions for Harmonica”. It deals with every aspect of Howard’s revolutionary techniques, repair and adjustment of the harmonica, improvisational music theory. There is even has a section using ultrasound that shows the inside of a harmonica player’s mouth as he plays. The second is a collaboration between Howard Levy’s label Balkan Samba and OMRadio.com called, “Out of the Box”. Expanding upon the previous release, Out of the Box covers 12 songs in 12 keys all played on a C diatonic harmonica.
Howard has also collaborated with Artist Works to start the Howard Levy Harmonica School online. http://www.howardlevyharmonicaschool.com/
Current Chicago Bands
Howard is music director of Chévere, Chicago’s hottest Latin-Jazz-Fusion Band, whose first CD was released on Balkan Samba Records. He also leads a 4 piece band called “Howard Levy’s Acoustic Express”, also with a cd to be released soon.
Movies, Dance, Theater
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.
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 Bly 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.
“…Playing an extended solo that somehow merged quasi- baroque techniques with swing rhythms, snippets of hokey holiday tunes with passages of brilliant jazz improvisation, Levy unleashed more ideas in this opening solo than many musicians do in an entire set.”
Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune, Dec. 1996
“…Howard Levy is a revelation; there are times when it is hard to believe he is playing only a harmonica, for he has the expressive range and depth of a saxophonist.”
Geoff Dyer, The London Observer, March 1994
“… may be the most radical single technical innovator in the history of his instrument…”
Kim Field, Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers, Simon & Schuster 1993
Friday Evening Capstone:
Putting it all in Perspective
Jeff Volk, publisher of the seminal texts on Cymatics, will lead off this final segment of our evening, with A Brief Overview of Cymatics, designed not only to provide a basic understanding of Cymatics, but to put a human face on it, by establishing its relevance to our personal lives. His lively and largely spontaneous program will feature excerpts from his award-winning videos and will debut his new video introducing illustrator, sculptor, and Cymatics wizard, Gabriel Kelemen. Kelemen will follow with a synopsis of how his 30+ years researching Cymatics has led him to develop a new theory of how forms of nature arise from the dynamic polarity of the fundamental structure of the sphere, in opposition to the spiral motion of the vortex.
Jeff will then introduce Howard Levy, Grammy award-winning composer and musician, best known as “that amazing harmonica player” with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and now regularly heard as a frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion. Howard will offer a brief synopsis of The Melody of Rhythm, his eloquent description of how the world’s most widespread musical scales and rhythmic patterns are identical in nature, sharing the same harmonic ratios and intervallic structures.
Both Howard and Gabriel will further elaborate their fascinating and awe-inspiring insights as Saturday evening’s Keynote Presenters, in a one-time-only, not-to-be-missed presentation, lavishly illustrated with Gabriel’s amazing artwork and Howard’s astounding musicianship.
Saturday evening Keynote Presentation
with Grammy award-winning composer and musician, Howard Levy, and artist, professor and Cymatics researcher extraordinaire, Gabriel Kelemen, Ph.D. Interpreted and contextualized by Jeff Volk, poet.
A Closer Look at the BIG Picture:
|This clip is the opening 3 minutes of “To Illustrate the Universe,” a 9-minute program in which Jeff Volk briefly describes Cymatics and introduces Romanian author and Cymatics researcher, Gabriel Kelemen, Ph.D. Both Jeff and Gabriel will be featured presenters on Friday and Saturday evenings, and they will be eager to meet Conference attendees during the VIP Party on Thursday night. The video will be shown in its entirety as part of Jeff’s presentation on Friday evening.
Imagining our Evolving Universe as a Dance of Structure and Motion
The dynamic pulsation of life permeates the entire cosmos, from the tiniest subatomic particle to the inconceivably slow and deliberate unfolding of the galaxies, and everything in between—contouring the rhythm of the cosmic heartbeat with astounding harmonic precision, each according to its unique mass and particular qualities and composition. Everywhere we look, the eye perceives harmonic structures as patterns or prototypes of forms in nature, in each and every stage of their development—each stage a symbol of becoming—a letter, word or sentence…a paragraph or chapter, within the book of life.
And where there’s dance, there must be music! A melody so delicate, yet so compelling that not one particle can resist its siren song. Unfolding in perfectly measured steps, proceeding in graceful and distinctive stages—this dance of life plays out impeccably.
Just as surely as pollen carried on the summer breeze, in a few short seasons, will coalesce again into the seed—so too (though at a rather different scale of time and space) will stellar dust (ejected in some great cosmic sneeze) eventually again become a spherical celestial body—a sun, a planet…and through a few more iterations of this very same dynamic process, even the very terrestrial body that you find yourself inhabiting right now!
This intricate and astounding process unfolds in measured, proportional stages that adhere to the same laws and principles as music—and of the essence of language. How could it be any different? Can you imagine all that exists around you and within you—this multiplicity of forms—as innumerable manifestations of that same desire to express itself—just so we might enjoy the evidence of our own existence? What a trip!
So if you’ve made it this far, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this evening’s program. It’s guaranteed to stretch your concept of yourself and your place in the cosmos. Oh yes…and what’s this got to do with Cymatics? Everything! As Hans Jenny, the man who coined the term, Cymatics, so adroitly stated, “Once ones eye has been opened to the Cymatic principle, you see it everywhere.” Enjoy the ride!
©2015, Jeff Volk