One Notch Up
After a musical childhood in Concord, New Hampshire, Mark attended Boston University in the early '60s. During those years he spent more time hanging around Berklee School of Music and fabled clubs such as The Stables and The Jazz Workshop than he did at BU, where playing jazz in the practice rooms was forbidden. Studying with pianist Jaki Byard (who also plays drums and alto saxophone) proved a revelation: 'He (Jaki) sat down at his drum set one day and said 'OK, play I Got Rhythm around the cycle,' and counted it off at a ridiculously fast tempo. I knew immediately what I had to practice.' Later studies with Herb Pomeroy and Hall Overton opened Mark's ears to the mysteries of jazz harmony. Further education included a year playing with Woody Shaw, six months playing alongside David Liebman in Eddie Henderson's group, and several years of occasional gigs with a band co-led by Blue Mitchell and Harold Land. Stints with Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, and Cal Tjader kindled Mark's interest in Latin jazz. Mark has recorded 6 albums as a leader, and many more as a featured sideman with Mitchell, Tjader, Joe Henderson, Sal Nistico, Carmen McRae, Que Calor, Bobby Shew and others. Henderson, Mitchell and Tjader have all recorded Mark's compositions, as have such disparate artists as Tito Puente, Joanne Brackeen, Poncho Sanchez, Que Calor, Bobby Shew and Nuyorican Soul. Mark has been in demand as a teacher-clinician since the mid-1970's. He authored The Jazz Piano Book in 1990, which has become the 'bible' for jazz pianists all over the world. In 1996, he completed The Jazz Theory Book, an even bigger best-seller. Mark Levine: jazz musician, educator, author. As Larry Kelp of the Oakland Tribune said of him, 'He loves to play.'
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