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Happy New Years 2016

Hi Everyone.
As usual, the calendar year reaches the 365th day and suddenly we are told that it’s over, it’s all over. Well…it’s really not. It’s more like swimming laps. We have reached the end of the pool, we make that turn and start back the other way. It’s something of a cyclic thing, or a moebius strip, with no real beginning or end. Like the ancient 2- headed Roman god Janus, we look backward AND forward, and somehow we (humanity) have decided that THIS particular time is the time to do that. So I will join the crowd waiting for the ball to drop and the fireworks to go off, and I’ll join in the festivities, whatever it actually means.

And luckily for me, I’ll join it by playing music for people right here in my adapted home town of Evanston, IL, where I feel particularly lucky to live- First Night with Acoustic Express!

I look forward to another year of continued musical growth and deepening friendships. February 14 I will perform my harmonica concerto with the Evanston Symphony Orchestra. This means so much to me…I can’t put a value on it. And it is just one of the many exciting things coming in 2016. There is a Flecktones tour from June 2-16, Trio Globo returns to The Green Mill July 2, in August I play my concerto in Taipei, and- WAIT!!!!

Isn’t this supposed to be about what happened in 2015? Well, thanks to Facebook and, a lot of you already know all that. But I suppose I have to rehash it on the day that we have arbitrarily picked as the place where the ants START their moebius lap. Well…okay- here are a few highlights from 2015.

The JEN Convention in San Diego, where I presented a clinic on my take on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. I had a wonderful time doing this, as well as sitting in at the Latin Jazz Jam, reconnecting with Ignacio Berroa, Steve Bailey, Mike Mossman, and many others.

A great time teaching harmonica for a week at JP Allen’s Kauai Harmonica Retreat and playing a concert with my cousin Steve Dubey’s Latin Jazz group “Rumba de Fuego”. After that I flew to Perth, Australia to visit my daughter and son-in-law and played a great gig with The Graham Wood Trio at The Ellington Jazz Club.

A great gig with German bass clarinetist/composer Michael Riessler at UNC in Chapel Hill, NC. Prairie Home Companion at Town Hall in NYC, 2 fantastic concerts with Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and Trio Globo (!).

A wonderful night at 27 Live, Steve Rashid’s concert venue in Evanston, with Larry Gray and my son Miles Levy playing music from our “First Takes” CD, Prairie Home Companion at Ravinia, another trip to Hawaii to play Ken Burgmaier’s Big Island Jazz Festival with people like Bobby Watson and Steve Turre, 3 nights playing David Isenberg’s mini- festival in Woods Hole, MA- solo, with Meg Ruby, and with Eugene Friesen- and oh yes- I bought my house….

A wonderful Acoustic Express concert at St. Augustine’s Church in Wilmette, IL, a soulful church service in Hyde Park with Stu Mindeman and Josh Ramos, a great duo concert at the Glen Ellyn Jazz Fest with Chris Siebold, and finally- a trip to Hong Kong and Seoul, Korea. I performed my harmonica concerto in both cities and played a bunch of other things as well. I met so many great people- it was a mind- opening experience.

Then in August I played SPAH in Denver, the Niwot Jazz Fest thanks to meeting Brad Goode at JEN back in January. I got to perform with an excellent quartet and the great Colorado Big Band. Then a very cool week- long recording session with bassist Don Falzone and drummer Alvester Garnett in Northern California, followed by a private concert near Vail, Colorado and then The Vail Jazz Festival, where I was privileged to play with a Who’s Who of Jazz musicians. This was a total treat for me, even at the high altitude.

Next came my annual playing for Aitz Hayim’s Jewish High Holiday services with my son Miles. This year we added Larry Gray on bass. It was wonderful- I hope we can reprise it next year. And a special added guest was my father Ira Levy, who flew up from Florida with my mom Arlene. He sang 4 songs in his magnificent bass baritone voice and lifted the roof of the Weingert JCC at least several inches…

Right after this I went to China for 2 weeks with Trio Globo. This was one of the highlights of the last TEN years. Thanks to my new manager Brian Horner and the CAEG agency, we played in 8 cities and were treated royally. I can’t describe how great it felt to play music there with Glen and Gene, how lucky we were to have Les Kahn with us doing sound, as well as our fantastic tour guide/translator Yu Pei (Sarah) from CAEG. I hope to go back soon.

Right after this, I played 3 days at Coastal Carolina Un. in Myrtle Beach,SC with the great bassist Steve Bailey and the CCU Big Band led by Matt White. We gave workshops, played a bunch, and presented the World Premiere of my 3 part Suite for Harmonica and Big Band. This was a thrill. The music was arranged by Scott Routenberg, who did a fantastic job interpreting and orchestrating my ideas while adding some of his own.

After this I did a short tour in Europe booked by my German agent Raymond Kast- solo concerts in Ulm and Budapest and a duo with organist Mattias Grünert in Klingenthal playing an all – Bach program. I hope that we can record a CD of this next year.

Next I performed and did a presentation at the Cymatics Conference in Atlanta, GA. This was through the good graces of my friend Jeff Volk and the wonderful Mandara Cromwell, who heads up this magnificent organization. I also got to visit my sister and her family, which is always a joy.

Then a smoking weekend at The Green Mill with the great Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa, Victor Garcia; tpt, Rich Moore; sax, and Patrick Mulcahy; bass. Latin Jazz is a loose description of what went on. I sure hope that we do this again. Next- a wonderful Chévere concert at Governor’s State U. with the added treat of 4 great dancers led by Laura Riebok, who choreographed 4 of our tunes. After this, a show with Steely Dan Tribute Band Deacon Blues featuring Bernard Purdie at The Arcata in St. Charles, IL.

Then the annual Harry Shearer/Judith Owen Holiday show with my friend the great CJ Vanston as music director. This is a star- studded cosmic event that comes once a year to The SPACE in Evanston. I hope they ask me back.

And last- I played a Hanukkah/Shabbat service/concert for Aitz Hayim at NSCI in Glencoe with my dear friends Cantor David Landau, Rabbi Ayalon Eliach, Marc Slutsky et al. A great last gig for 2015 leaving me plenty of time to spend with Fox, and my visiting daughter and son in law. And tonight- First Night. So let’s ring a ding ding and all the best to all,

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