2. Reviews



“Outstanding

  soloist”
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 
hard-driving
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 Timmerman, 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



  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 didEllington’s
voicespeak more clearly
than inthe 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
arrangements
composed by
keyboardist Bob
Long...Long gives
enough improvisational
room to reed player
Mike Levin to make
this a worthwhile jazz outing. 
Levin—on
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 
Levin

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.

JazzTimes



  Michael Levin 
    with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre


ML with Cerqua Rivera edited

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
contrasting
 group of
women in filmy
aqua-blue
 dresses
provides an ethereal
Greek
 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




 


MichaelLevin11@mac.com  I  © Michael Levin 2012