2. Reviews


Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

  Michael Levin
    with Sueños

CD cover for Azul Oscuro by Suenos Latin-Jazz

Imagine a
classic Latin
jazz ensemble
backed by a 
rhythm section and
fronted by a remarkably
inventive tenor saxophonist,
and you have the essence of Sueños
… Sueños produced a “Lush Life”
like no one else’s … Everyone in the
band argued passionately for this
hard-driving reworking of a

revered jazz ballad, but none
made a more persuasive
case than tenor saxophonist
Mike Levin. The intricacy of his
lines, which seamlessly merged
be-bop techniques with Latin
rhythmic accents, was impressive
to behold. Levin also played
profoundly lyric solos in John
Lewis’ “Django” and clever
passage work in the standard
“Spring Can Really Hang You
Up the Most,” complete with
witty, elliptical quotations
from “It Might as Well be Spring.” 

Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Mike Levin, sounding wonderful 
as he solos on four different
horns: tenor and soprano sax, 
clarinet and flute. Many 
woodwind players double.
Fewer of them sound great on
more than one horn. Even fewer
have unique voices on each horn. 
Mike is one of them and his
solos are one of the big
highlights of the album.

John Temmerman, Azul Oscuro by
Sueños Latin Jazz, 
Album of the
Year, epinions

Levin furiously tears through
the changes, displaying
both virtuosity and creativity.

Latin Jazz Corner

Photo by David Gilbert

  Michael Levin
    with Barrett Deems

CD cover for Delmark Records 50 Years of Jazz and Blues

[T]he occasion
was the 16th
annual “Tribute
to Duke Ellington

Nowhere did Ellington’s
voice speak more clearly
than in the work of the
Barrett Deems Big Band …
[T]rumpeter Brad Goode played in
a characteristically lyric vein,
 Mike Levin
improvised cunningly on clarinet … and
Deems himself turned in some of the
most hard-swinging solos of
the afternoon.

Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

  Michael Levin 
    with Night on Earth

Good night Good morning

[H]ighly dramatic
composed by
keyboardist Bob
Long...Long gives
enough improvisational
room to reed player
Mike Levin to make
this a worthwhile jazz outing. 
soprano, alto, and tenor sax, flute,
clarinet and bass clarinet—is an adroit
and adventurous soloist who explores
the range of each instrument while
ranging through myriad emotions.
On “Cry Baby Cry,” his soprano sax
dances among the percussion to
weave a lyrical and soulful solo. In
“Julia,” he jumps octaves with ease,
keeping the sinuous idea flowing in
a quiet, meditative manor. And in
“Rain,” after lovely opening harmonies
with Long on keyboards, he settles
into some fabulous funky blues.

John Roe

  Michael Levin
    with String Fusion

not radio material sm med

[T]rue to their
name, Chicago
area Edgar Gabriel’s
String Fusion play
fusion jazz, meaning
solos around the horn,
interplay between the
instruments absent
as usual, rhythm straight up, four on the floor.
But jazz fans are supposed to be open-minded 
– and for any fan of string music, with fond
memories of the 70s or an ear for Jean-Luc
Ponty or Weather Report, this is a treat…. [T]he
second cut is thoughtful and midtempo with a
bit of a rhumba feel, featuring a warmly
exploratory tenor sax solo by 
Michael Levin….
The cd’s best cut is Renaissance man, a bouncy
dance that blends a Django/Grappelli vibe with
klezmer overtones, alternating between lively
Gabriel atmospherics and some absolutely
spot-on, lickety-split clarinet work by 

Lucid Culture

  Michael Levin
    with Mr. A.L.I.

Step into Chicago's jazz
institution Green Dolphin
Street on any given Thursday
and you will hear a new sound:
the sound of house music.
Loveslap Recordings is proud
to debut the first release from
Green Dolphin Street residents
Mr. A.L.I. featuring a cast of players from
Chi-town's legendary jazz community. Too often
house music consists of repetitive loops and
questionable musicianship. Not so on this release!
The Moog mix features a monster solo by Kevin
Randolph. The Flute mix brings it home with a
scorching fluting by 
Mike Levin. Mr. A.L.I. is led
by collaborators Jere McAllister and Vic Lavender.
Vic was a member of Glenn Underground's Strictly
Jazz Unit and Jere has worked with numerous
Grammy winners. Jere wrote "Let The Music Move
You" for Frankie Knuckles, played keyboards
for Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time", and
worked on remixes for Diana Ross, INXS, and Dajae.
His remix of Janet Jackson's "Runaway” is quoted
as being one of her favorites.

Traxsource  #realhousemusic

  Michael Levin
    with Michael Fiorino and Ensemble 456

Fiorino - Set of Six - large photo

“Prologue” starts the set off
with a catchy riff that is
developed by the seven-piece
ensemble, complete with multiple
feel changes, and layering
counterpoint. Fiorino’s compositions
are composed with an
improviser's ear—
free flowing 
and full of surprises that add
to the listening narrative. 
Levin unfolds an
exciting saxophone solo that leads
to Fiorino sporting his writing chops
in a “shout chorus” section that finds
the ensemble playing as unit with
impeccable precision…. “Game Over”
is a good example of his relaxed
supportive style on this slow mid-tempo
swing composition. The band flawlessly
unfolds the 
melody…. Levin is in top
form on this chart, unfurling 
a crisp
saxophone solo over the controlled
writing of Fiorino’s background riffs
and ensemble hits.


  Michael Levin 
    with Nuance Crusaders

nuancecrusaders 128 hr

Levin's tenor is hip
on the bopping “Soon
We’ll Be Together Again”
and rich during a joyful
“Swing in the Wind….and
some crossover moods
Levin on soprano sax
make for an upbeat “Our
Love”…. Darryl Boggs adds rich vocals to Levin’s
tenor as a Latin Lover as well on “Giving,” making
this an impressive mix of jazz and adventurous pop.

George Harris, Jazz Weekly

  Michael Levin 
    with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre

ML with Cerqua Rivera edited DSC 6409 February 01, 2019

The first section of Recuerdos,
“Tres Palabras - Mi Gente,”
opens with a sculptural
montage of dancers in
versions of black street
clothes. The mournful
sound of a solo clarinet
activates the cluster of
male and female dancers,
revealing the source of
the music at their center,
a lone clarinetist (
Mike Levin) costumed in black bowler
hat and suit. With the musician
in the lead as a kind
of musical narrator,
the group
 forms what
seems like a funeral
procession, while a
 group of
women in filmy
provides an ethereal
 chorus of
libation bearers….
“Amor Gitano,”
[further] introduces
us to the marvelous
Mike Levin on clarinet,
his versatility
with jazz, folk, and
classical idioms a
treat throughout
the program.

Lynn Colburn Shapiro


• Michael Levin
   with BMR4


BMR4 was laying down gritty, soulful sounds….
The music of BMR4 filled every corner of the

Howard Reich,  Chicago Tribune