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Dan Levinson

The cover of the August 1998 issue of The Mississippi Rag refers to Dan Levinson as the “in-demand reedman.” Indeed, during an active career that began in the 1980s, he has enjoyed working with such jazz luminaries as Dick Hyman, Mel Tormé and Wynton Marsalis. A specialist in the music of the 1920s and '30s, Dan functions as both a leader and sideman, often performing alongside such prominent musicians as Howard Alden, Joe Ascione, Dan Barrett, Jon-Erik Kellso, Randy Reinhart, Randy Sandke, and Mark Shane.

Originally from the Los Angeles area, Dan moved to New York in 1983. The following year he met veteran reedman James “Rosy” McHargue, then 82 years old, who became Dan's friend and mentor. Over the next fifteen years Rosy influenced and inspired Dan, teaching him most of what he now knows about music and life. During that period Dan also studied with world-class clarinet instructor Leon Russianoff and saxophone virtuoso Al Gallodoro.

Dan's “rags-to-riches” career began modestly enough on the streets of Paris, performing with a quartet led by American cornetist Dick Miller that featured a fifteen-year-old up-and-coming vocalist named Madeleine Peyroux. His wander lust soon took him across Europe, through seventeen countries, where he earned a living for year playing clarinet and C-melody saxophone on the street.

Following his European excursion, Dan lived in New Orleans for half a year, where he performed nightly at the prestigious Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street and at such jazz meccas as Fritzel's, Mahogany Hall, and on the steamboat Natchez.

Since 1993 Dan has been firmly based in New York, but his busy schedule often takes him around the world. He has performed in Brazil with the Bunk Project, a band organized by Woody Allen and banjoist Eddy Davis, in Italy with the Manhattan Rhythm Kings, in Scotland with the Gully Low Jazz Band, in Germany with the Barrelhouse Jazz Band, in Paris at the Bilboquet Jazz Club, in Japan with the New York Ragtime Orchestra, and in Los Angeles at the Playboy Mansion. His countless music festival appearances include the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Sweet and Hot Music Festival in Los Angeles, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the Orange County Classic Jazz Festival, the Sedalia Ragtime Festival, the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Essex, Connecticut, the Edinburgh Festival and Nairn Jazz Festival in Scotland, and the Brecon Festival in Wales. From 1992-2004 Dan was a regular guest at Dick Hyman's annual Jazz in July Festival in New York. In 2004 Dan organized and was featured in a centennial tribute to bandleader Jimmy Dorsey presented at New York City's Birdland by the JVC Jazz Festival.

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