Adam Levy is a guitarist in high demand. His playing has been featured on recordings by major-label artists such as Norah Jones (her first three albums), Tracy Chapman (New Beginning), and Amos Lee (Amos Lee). He has also played on records by acclaimed indie artists such as Ani DiFranco (¿Which Side Are You On?) and Anaïs Mitchell (Young Man in America). Levy has performed live onstage with... more
Adam Levy is a guitarist in high demand. His playing has been featured on recordings by major-label artists such as Norah Jones (her first three albums), Tracy Chapman (New Beginning), and Amos Lee (Amos Lee). He has also played on records by acclaimed indie artists such as Ani DiFranco (¿Which Side Are You On?) and Anaïs Mitchell (Young Man in America). Levy has performed live onstage with all of these musicians—as well as with Rosanne Cash, Lisa Loeb, Dan Hicks, Darol Anger, Regina Carter, and many others.
What keeps Levy so busy, working in a wide variety of styles, is his knack for playing things that are unpredictable yet sound right as soon as you hear them. Take, for example, Levy’s guitar solo on Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.” Though steeped in Chicago blues essence, it’s wholly original—free from cliché or caricature. His solo on Norah Jones’ “Come Away with Me” is more understated—a simple, earnest plea echoing the sentiment of the song. It has elements of jazz and country, but ultimately defies pigeonholing.
In addition to his work as a guitarist, Levy has blossomed as a songwriter in recent years, with work appearing on releases by Norah Jones, Chris Difford (of Squeeze), Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket), Miles Zuniga (of Fastball), and Amber Rubarth (rising indie songstress). Though he often writes alone, he is just as comfortable co-writing with other simpatico songwriters. One of his recent collaborations was with singer/songwriter Jill Sobule. The song they wrote together, “Bound to Happen,” is featured in the documentary film If You Build It.
Over the past decade or so, Levy has released a dozen of his own recordings—some song-oriented, some instrumental. His latest is the lyrically driven Portuguese Subtitles. Another of Levy’s recent releases is Live from Sun Studio, which he recorded with his electrified trio at the legendary Memphis recording studio where Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash famously got their starts. His 2010 album, The Heart Collector, is an all-acoustic session, supported by a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. In their online review of The Heart Collector, music magazine No Depression said, “There really isn’t anything to prove when you’re this good and have always been this good. The Heart Collector has only confirmed, reaffirmed, and validated that Levy is one of the best songwriters and musicians in the business. It is a great album overflowing with warm and soulful songs that enchant the ears and captivate the heart.”
Levy is also well respected as a writer and educator, with Play the Right Stuff (book/DVD) and 50 Low-Down Rhythms (DVD/online course) to his credit, as well as countless articles for guitar-oriented magazines. He has also presented workshops and masterclasses at prestigious schools such as Musicians Institute (Hollywood), the Thornton School at University of Southern California (Los Angeles), and the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (Southern Denmark). After his workshop at ADMA in 2010, Jazz department head Anders Mogensen said of Levy, “As a teacher, Adam is outstanding. He captured all students with such a great intensity that all students were able to ‘grab’ from his amazing knowledge as an international acclaimed musician. I can only give Adam Levy the highest recommendation.”
Several cities have been home to Levy over the years, including New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. He currently lives in another culture-rich municipality, Los Angeles—the city in which he was born.less