Chalking up an enviable career to luck is characteristic of the soft-spoken Levy, whose humility is echoed in his musical voice. Much as he chooses his words wisely, Adam is tactful and tasteful in his guitar playing, never stepping into a solo spotlight without something meaningful to add to a song. One great example is his guitar work on the Norah Jones hit “Come Away with Me.” Understated but memorable, Levy’s solo draws on elements of jazz and country to reflect perfectly the simple, earnest sentiment of the composition.
He met Norah Jones in New York City, before the songstress had played her first real gig, and was recruited for the recording of Come Away with Me — her multi-platinum, multi-Grammy debut on Blue Note Records. He remained in Jones’ orbit for several years to come, recording two additional albums and three DVDs, and touring the world as a member of her Handsome Band.
Working with Norah Jones was just one experience in a string of elite gigs for Levy. A few years prior he had met Tracy Chapman, who invited him to play on her mid-’90s masterpiece, New Beginning. Levy’s guitar earns the limelight in the bluesy “Give Me One Reason,” which won Best Rock Song at the 1997 Grammy Awards.
Levy has remained in high demand since leaving Jones’ band in ’07. That’s the well-deserved reward of a man with music on his mind and in his blood. Formally schooled in composing and arranging, Levy is also the grandson of composer George Wyle, who penned the theme for TV’s Gilligan’s Island as well as the Christmas staple “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
Beyond continuing his recording career as a sideman for celebrated artists such as Ani DiFranco and the late Cuban guitar master Manuel Galbán, Levy has risen as a songwriter in his own right. His compositions have been recorded by Norah Jones, Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), Miles Zuniga (Fastball), and Amber Rubarth (rising indie artist). The full force of Adam Levy’s songwriting is in play on his six solo recordings, the latest being 2013’s lyrically driven Portuguese Subtitles.
Levy is also a respected writer and educator, with the instructional courses Play the Right Stuff (book/DVD), 50 Low-Down Rhythms (DVD/online course), and Rhythm Makeover (DVD/online course) to his credit, as well as numerous articles for Guitar Player, Fretboard Journal, and other top guitar magazines.
Levy lives in Los Angeles now — the city where he was born.
I know that most of the work that goes into amplifier design is about tone, but I have to say that one of my favorite things about Supro amps is how damn cool they look. Walk into the club with a handful of blue rhino and you’re already a star. And, of course, the tone is even bolder than the look.
Photo credit: Ellen Rehak