"From The Heart" "Thinking Of You" "Star Gazing"

REVIEWS

"From The Heart"

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“Talented keyboardist Mike Levine’s brand new release “Thinking of You” brand new to the Smoothjazz.com Listening   Loft!” http://smoothjazz.com/loft/#mlevine

“When I review an album like THINKING OF YOU, from South Florida pianist/composer

Mike Levine, I want to pull out all the complimentary adjectives, like “brilliant, “compelling,” “delightful,” and “World-class,” and weave them cleverly into my comments. I’ll resist this time, simply because I want you to really get the kind of organic quality music you’ll hear on Mike’s second release. Okay, maybe I’ll use “brilliant.” Mr. Levine’s included eleven originals and two jazz standards

(“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” featuring vocalist Wendy Pedersen, and Nat Adderley’s “Work Song”), and features special guests Will Lee on bass, saxophonists Ed Calle and Ed Maina, flutist Billy Ross, plus some of the finest

musicians in South Florida. I personally love every track, from the perfect radio single, “Walking Tall” to the bluesy

“Table Top.” Mike Levine’s THINKING OF YOU is right there among the best of the best. This one’s a smash..guaranteed!”

 ~SCOTT O'BRIEN SmoothJazz.com


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“That is a great CD. You have a gift of interpretation of tunes that is original and fresh. That is what has made "Thinking

of You" a dj favorite. That's how it got into our top 20, and I think it will stay there for a while. Keep the good jazz coming”.

Malvin Massey, Jr. WUMR U92 FM College of Communication & Fine Arts Memphis, TN

 

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Smooth Jazz Is Alive and Well in 2012!! by sdcolor.. "I thoroughly enjoyed Mike's "From the Heart" in 2008, but WOW! This one truly moves! He's easily on par with smooth jazz greats, like David Benoit, Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber and Gregg Karukas. This has a nice blend of smooth ballads

and moving tunes! Great compositions. Great musical ensemble. Thanks Mike! I'll be sure to spread the news about this

one. this is real smooth jazz by Stanley Davis “Mike Levine does it again, smooth jazz with smooth hooks I LOVE his

music if you don't know his music your lost. All his tracks are fresh not the same old stuff music like this gives me hope

and joy thank you for the good music.”


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5.0 out of 5 stars Some great music, March 17, 2012 By Charles Uus (Houston, TX )

“A great mix of jazz music by an amazingly talented mix of musicians. The tracks on the album are unique but still work

together extremely well. The artists who join Mike on the various tracks bring their considerable talents and have created a wonderful album. Definitely worth a listen if not a place in your music collection.”

"Thinking Of You"

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"Levine distinguishes himself on Thinking Of You, not so much because of his skills on the piano, but rather his talents as a composer of music that is not just smooth jazz, it's great jazz.
Edward Blanco    
www.Allaboutjazz.com


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"So his second album Thinking Of You (2011) also features many musical companions. To mention are Will Lee, Julio Hernandez, Rafael Valencia, Nick Orta (bass), Ed Calle, Ed Maina (sax), Billy Ross (flute), Lee Levin, Sam Levine (drums), Dan Warner, Lindsey Blair, Aaron Lebos (guitar), Richard Bravo, Carlomagno Araya, Nelson "Flaco" Padron (percussion), Wendy Pedersen (vocals), Dana Teboe (trombone), Jeff Kievet (trumpet), Tony Concepcion (fluegel horn), Gary Lindsey (strings arrangement), and Miami Symphonic - Strings Concert Master - Alfredo Oliva.

"With the exception of two covers Mike has written all songs. Gettin Ready opens the album with astonishing freshness. Top-notch musicians let the song groove. Walking Tall is an energetic piece with a lot of horn power in the style of Tom Scott or Greg Adams."

"It's Just Right may touch the romantically minded listeners with that certain sonically captivating sweetness. Get Away has that positive aura that was widespread around that time. You're The Onehas that charm of simplicity that works through its inner power of persuasion."

"Jazz cornetist Nat Adderley recorded the Work Song in 1960. This album with the signature title song became quickly a hit and was often copied and re-recorded. Mike Levine is in his element and revels masterly about this famous theme. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart created the song Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered for the musical Pal Joey (1940). The song became soon a classic and was interpreted by legends like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald or Tony Bennett. Mike Levine's gorgeous interpretation features the pristine voice of Wendy Pedersen in a setting close to the original."

"An Endless Afternoon develops a peaceful environment in which Mike meets his long-time friend Billy Ross, who sets his own accents with his flute. And off they go again with Table Top. After Darkbrings another contemplative element into play. Island Dream has something disconnected from reality like a far-distant paradise you can focus your dreams on."

"Sooner Or Later is a buoyant walk in easy-going Bossa Nova rhythm. Mike Levine thought the best at the end and presents the title melody as final act. Supported by the Miami String Orchestra, Mike creates an emotional ending". Thinking Of You is a tribute to Mike's beloved father.
Mike Levine does not place the emphasis of his album on fashion trends but on composing melodies that stand the test of time. Stylistically he leans on his generation, for which his fans will be grateful.

Hans-Bernd Hulsmann

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"I love this CD. It puts me in the mood for love. It's refreshing and gives a lot of atmosphere for a quiet afternoon at home as well as a romantic evening."    

   Mariana Martin (Miami)    


"Star Gazing"

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"Piano and keyboard specialist Mike Levine builds upon what he has previously documented designing another successful and highly- entertaining musical statement on Star Gazing proving the axiom, "the third time is a charm."
Edward Blanco   
www.allaboutjazz.com

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"Pianist Mike Levine gained excellent reputation in the international world of music. He took his first musical steps together with saxophonist Billy Ross, with whom he founded the Ross-Levine Band. The albums That Summer Something (1981) and Humidity (1981) originate from this time. Numerous cooperation followed with the pianist, who is well networked in the music world. Not until 2006 Mike decided to release his first solo album From The Heart. 2011 followed Thinking Of You and 2017 Star Gazing. On the latest album Mike is accompanied by a selected group of professional musicians as there are Will Lee (bass), Lee Levin, Sam Levine (drums), Richard Bravo (percussion), Dan Warner, Lindsey Blair (guitar), Ed Calle, Andy Snitzer, Ed Maina, Billy Ross, Tom McCormick, Mike Brignola (sax), Lenard Rutledge, Jackson King (vocals), Jeff Kievit (trumpet), Dante Luciani, Dana Teboe (trombone), and Camillo Valencia (horn arrangement). What better way to start an album than at full steam. "Oh Yeah" presents Mike Levine at the piano in top form. The horns perform like a Big Band and wide open on all cylinders. 

"Star Gazing" appears more dreamy and contemplative. Mike's light-footed and lively piano performance is sensitively accompanied by Ed Calle on the soprano saxophone. With "Rio Funk" we enter the ballroom to swing our hips in Latin American rhythm. Some Salsa here, some Bossa Nova there, garnished with percussion and brass. "Twilight" is the leitmotif of that temporal moment, between day and night, the state of suspension between being awake and resting. "Road Song" is the title song of Wes Montgomery's last album (1968), one of the famous forerunners of smooth jazz. A melody that is quickly remembered and picked up by many musicians (Lee Ritenour, Andy Cleaves). Guitarist Lindsey Blair creates an unrivalled Wes feeling. But it is Mike, who pushes the melody with his virtuoso finesse to a new level.

"Sunday's Touch" attracts the listener with mellow electric piano tones wonderfully interwoven with Blair's guitar riffs. "Willy's Gumbo" is the somehow ironical sounding title of a tune with a bodacious shell and a golden core. Although the title "Really Wish I Could Love You" doesn't sound positive vocalist Lenard Rutledge and guitarist Dan Warner convey with their outstanding talents a touching impression. "Getting to It" is the second piece with a wide range of horn inserts. Mike's cheerful Piano jingle is contagious. On the sentimental "City of Hope" Mike embraces a romantic theme with great empathy. When Mike names a tune "Jaco", then one can await a tribute to the late bass player Jaco Pastorius, in earlier time member of the famous group Weather Report. Jaco was a legend as player of the fretless bass and exactly Will Lee plays this kind of instrument with the typical warm sonorous sound.  "The Herb" is a further tune, on which Will Lee can shine his bass and Mike gives his Rhodes the spores. On "Soaring" Mike finally lets his piano run free, whereby his spontaneity remains in balance with the melodic arrangement.  Mike Levine titles his new album "Star Gazing", the description of an activity that gives pleasure and entertainment to the star fans. Nothing else is Mike's concern and he manages to do that completely with great passion and elegance.        📷 Hans-Bernd Hulsmann   

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Pianist/keyboardist/composer Mike Levine’s easy and smooth style comes through in a mellow and confident manner on his latest steady-as-she-goes release "Star Gazing", featuring bassist Will Lee and saxmen Ed Calle and Andy Snitzer. If cool and romantic swagger, along with as a few boogie, feel-good jams are what you’re seeking, get an earful of this one. It’s an album laced with varied moods from the rich & sweet to some funky moments – all done with charm and sophistication. Working his way through a plush musical landscape that includes tracks like the high-spirited lead track “Oh Yeah,” the more somber and reflective title track, the finger-snappin’ island feel of “Rio Funk” featuring that catchy Snitzer sax and some funky 88s action from Levine, and the romantic “my my” sweetness of “Sunday’s Touch” (calls for a glass of Chardonnay, candlelight, and that special someone) and the melancholy lyrics and caressing melody of “Really Wish I Could Love You” featuring the silky vocals of one Lenard Rutledge, "Star Gazing" gets it done in a big way. If you’re in the mood for a little light N’Orleans funk and blues, check out “Willie’s Gumbo,” and I’ll leave it to you to figure out just who might have been the influence for the track “Jaco.” No small potato in the industry, having toured and recorded with some of the finest names in the biz, as well as programmed for many, Levine’s is a very diverse and colorful resume. This eclectic album is proof positive as to why. Do yourself a big favor and grab a listen to this artful endeavor. 

           – Ronald Jackson     May 7, 2017