The Mississippi Rag calls Dan Levinson the "in-demand reedman." A specialist in traditional jazz and swing, Dan is indeed one of the most prolific musicians on the scene today, equally at home as both a leader and sideman. During a twenty-year career, he has appeared alongside such prominent artists as Dick Hyman, Mel Tormé, Wynton Marsalis, Ed Polcer, Howard Alden, Joe Ascione, Dan Barrett, Jon-Erik Kellso, Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, Kevin Dorn, Dick Sudhalter, Frank Vignola, Randy Sandke, and John Cocuzzi.
Though based in New York City, Dan's busy schedule often takes him across the country and 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 David Ostwald's Louis Armstrong Centennial 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 numerous 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 the JVC Jazz Festival's centennial tribute to Jimmy Dorsey at the famed jazz club Birdland.
An ardent Benny Goodman devotee, Dan's tributes to the clarinet legend have brought him many accolades over the years. In 1996 he gave a televised concert in Reykjavík for the president of Iceland and the prime minister of Italy. His re-creations of Goodman's famous Carnegie Hall jazz concert have delighted audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. On January 16, 1998, the 60th anniversary of the concert, Dan performed to a standing-room-only crowd in New York with the Stan Rubin Orchestra, spawning countless repeat performances in the ensuing years. In addition, Dan frequently tours with Andrej Hermlin's Swing Dance Orchestra from Berlin, performing tributes to both Goodman and Artie Shaw in concert halls throughout Germany and other countries.
Dan's tremendous respect for songs and lyrics has made him a popular accompanist with vocalists over the years. As reedman with Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos, Dan has performed in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, as well as at clubs throughout New York City. From 1990-2002, Dan toured extensively with singer/guitarist Leon Redbone, with whom he appeared on national television and at the renowned jazz club Pizza Express in London. Dan has also accompanied esteemed vocalists Banu Gibson, Daryl Sherman, Janet Klein, Cynthia Sayer, and most notably, the charming and talented Molly Ryan, whom he married in May 2008.
Since 1993, Dan has been a member of Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, and has been featured with them on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion radio program and at Carnegie Hall, in addition to the band's weekly appearances at Sofia's Restaurant at the Edison Hotel in Manhattan.
Dan's own ensembles vary considerably in style and repertoire, running the gamut from ragtime to early jazz to swing. His Canary Cottage Dance Orchestra, which features C-melody saxophone, violin, trombone, and a barbershop quartet, specializes in ragtime and early Twentieth Century dance music; his Roof Garden Jass Band is devoted exclusively to a rare breed of music sometimes known as "rag-a-jazz," a hybrid of ragtime and the earliest form of jazz; Dan's Palomar Quartet is modeled after the renowned Benny Goodman Quartet and features the same lineup of clarinet, piano, vibes, and drums; and Dan's Swing Wing, his newest ensemble, recalls the classic small groups of the 1930s, featuring Dan's own arrangements as well as those played by Bud Freeman's Summa Cum Laude Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey's Clambake Seven, the John Kirby Sextet, and others.
Originally from the Los Angeles area, Dan moved to New York in 1983. The following year, he met 82-year-old reedman James "Rosy" McHargue, who became Dan's friend and mentor, and over the next fifteen years taught 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.
In 1990 Dan moved to Paris to join a band formed by American cornetist Dick Miller that featured the up-and-coming vocalist Madeleine Peyroux, then sixteen years old. Dan's wanderlust soon took him across the continent, through seventeen European countries, where he earned a living for year playing on the street. Shortly after returning to New York, he temporarily relocated to New Orleans to perform with the Silver Leaf Jazz Band at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street.
Dan has performed on over 75 CDs, including seven under his own name. He can also be heard on the soundtracks to the films Ghost World, The Cat's Meow, and Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. His complete discography, along with his engagement calendar, photos, samples of his music, and more information on his ensembles, are available at www.danlevinson.com