Primary Instrument: Guitar
Guitarist, composer and educator Rob Levit has been described by the Ottawa International Jazz Festival as ...one of the finest young guitarists on today's jazz scene. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the 2000 Chamber Music America New Works: Creation and Presentation (Doris Duke Jazz Ensembles Project) Award, the Jazz Composers Alliance/Julius Hemphill Prize, and four consecutive Maryland State Arts Council Individual Arts Awards. Inspired by great composers as diverse as Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Sam Rivers and Pat Metheny, Levit's music integrates world, rock, jazz and classical sources with improvisation to create an exciting fusion of sounds. His band, the Rob Levit Group, has performed at the Kennedy Center, Montreal Jazz Festival, the Knitting Factory, and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. Levit Produces, records, and releases his own music on the Symbol System label--a label devoted to fostering collaboration, creativity, and economic self-sufficiency. He also gives workshops on all aspects of jazz and improvisation.
Guitarist, composer, educator, and band leader Rob Levit, a native of Richmond, Virginia, resides in Annapolis, Maryland. He received his master's degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory in Boston. While there, his group, a quintet comprised of trumpet, flute, guitar, bass, and drums, was signed to Brownstone Recordings and recorded the compact disc, Singularity. Released in October 1994, the disc received acclaim in New England and nationally. In his year end column, jazz critic Bob Blumenthal of the Boston Globe recognized him as a rising jazz star. The Rob Levit Group was nominated Best Jazz Act by the Boston Phoenix . Subsequently, it was chosen as the opening act for Arturo Sandoval in the Boston Globe Jazz Festival , one of the most prestigious American jazz festivals. The group's performance received positive reviews in the area's two primary newspapers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Singularity was featured on Chronicle, a popular television newsmagazine, as a recommended compact disc. In addition, one cut from the CD was selected by the Massachusetts Governor's Alliance Against Drugs for a public service announcement.
In 1995, Levit moved to New York City where he formed a new group featuring saxophonist Chris Cheek, percussionist John Mettam, and bassist Stephan Crump. Together they recorded two CD's of Levit's original compositions, Afterimage and East River View. In 1996, the Rob Levit Group was Artist-In-Residence at the University of Virginia and Collegiate School as part of an east coast tour. In July 1997, the group performed at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival where Levit was described as ...one of the finest young guitarists on today's jazz scene. In July 1998, the group played on the mainstage of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Levit was recently awarded the Julius Hemphill Composition Award by the Jazz Composers Alliance, an Individual Artist Award by the Maryland State Arts Council as well as an ASCAP Special Award for his original compositions. He performs regionally at venues like the Knitting Factory (New York), the Texaco Jazz Festival, and Blues Alley (Washington) and currently teaches guitar privately and at Loyola College in Baltimore. He is signed to Whirlybird Records a national label, founded by electronic music pioneer Simeon of Silver Apples.
Over the past several years, he has established himself as a composer whose band performs original works that draw from a myriad of influences including twentieth century classical music, rock, world traditions, and modern jazz. His musical and compositional approach, called Symbol System, seeks to unify these diverse musical traditions into a personal style.
Abstract Logix “As an instrumentalist I didn't always appreciate the level of hard work and sophistication that went into creating electronic music. I was one of those idiots knocking it without ever trying it. It’s been eye-opening to learn how to manipulate the myriad of possibilities into some intelligent or at least listenable form. It’s also helped generate new ideas for my jazz improvisations.
Abstract Logix “Levit’s s band furrows into fresh soil, implanting their own unique playing styles and compositional/arrangement savvy -- not usually heard among American Jazz trios of similar ilk.”
Bay Weekly “Rob isn’t a cocky guy, just a confident one who genuinely believes in the familiar childhood adage you can do anything you put your mind to. Creativity flows freely from this Maryland Hall artist in residence, whose results are as impressive as they are numerous.”
Chaindlk “Rob Levit is and has been one of the pioneering musicians in free-jazz, but he's also one of those rare cats that are open and welcoming towards experimentation. Those who knew him for his jazz music might very well be shocked if they were to listen to these electronic soundscapes. You get it all here: ambient soundscapes, idm beats, d'n'b breakbeats, glitch-electronica, classical music, free-jazz, progressive, avant-garde, experimental, trance and dark. As you might comprehend it is really hard to describe 22 songs and 2 CDs for a total of almost 2 and a half hours, especially when these songs are so drastically various and dramatically evolving.”
Espresso Jazz Uncertain Path is a program of mostly originals from the prolific guitarist and composer Rob Levit. His compositions range from the technically complex to the simply beautiful, from odd meter jazz to blistering backbeat rock feels, and seemingly all points in between. His interpretations of the music of others (Bob Marley, Sting, Wayne Shorter) are by turns poignant and incendiary. The trio, one of many Levit projects, works as a compatible unit, subtle, supportive, and well rehearsed.
Inside Annapolis Diverse forms of artistic expression and originality, the mark of a true multi-dimensional artist, have always distinguished the work of Levit.
Progressive World “Levit's a fabulous guitarist and it is his guitar that sparkles at the center of things.”
Sea Of Tranquility “The diversity of the tracks , the strength of the compositions, as well as the solid musicianship demonstrated by all 3 members make this an enjoyable disc. Fans of semi-acoustic jazz guitar will want to add another name to their list. The Rob Levit Trio has fused together diverging musical ideas into a cohesive musical entity.”
All About Jazz “Many musicians who explore a wide variety of musical styles are unable to combine them into a coherent whole. Not Rob Levit though, a guitarist who is able to seamlessly blend all sorts of influences from blues to funk to heavy metal into a coherent whole. Thus Uncertain Path is an ironic title for an album that is so focused.”
Smother “Traditional jazz and composition is usually Rob Levit’s bag but this ambitious and exuberant adventure into the world of ambient soundscapes is a journey that requires a passport into the depths of unexplored emotion. Both visionary and luminous, Levit paints lavish sonic artwork, traversing along the lines of IDM and ambient pieces while never straying so far as to be called glitch.”
All About Jazz “In addition to Levit, the other two members of the trio�Amy Shook on bass and Frank Russo on drums and percussion�are very tasteful and musical players who work seemingly effortlessly together, complimenting each other's sounds in a delightful dance of music making.”
All About Jazz “If guitar was a musical style, Rob Levit would be at the top of it. On the one hand, he is a jazz guitarist who can take a basic melody and turn it outside in to explore its inner beauty or reveal its seamy underbelly.”
One Final Note “It is Levit’s constant reinvention, his drive to try something new at every turn that makes the music on both of these discs continually fascinating and rewarding.”
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.