Like so many behind the Iron Curtain, Nick Levinovsky was introduced to jazz at the age of 13 when he discovered and started listening (surreptitiously via short wave radio) to Willis Conover's Voice of America jazz broadcasts. From a musical family -- both of his parents were opera singers -- he was expected to take the classical route to a musical career. But after being exposed to jazz, he was hooked on America's music and there was no looking back. As the political climate in the U.S.S.R. began to thaw and jazz began to move out of the underground, Levinovsky moved to Moscow to form his own trio. Ironically, his first paying gig was for the local KGB office. He met and jammed with all the jazz greats passing through Moscow, including Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Milt Hinton, and others. He also played piano on a recording by Ray Coniff, the first American artist to record in the U.S.S.R. In 1978, Levinovsky formed his own group, Allegro, and gained considerable notoriety playing at festivals, performing on Russian radio, as well as cutting eight albums. This success notwithstanding, the political climate was still bad enough that Levinovsky came to the U.S. in 1990 where he performed and wrote charts for such groups as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He also met and married singer Kathy Jenkins. Forming a big band in 1997, he released his first album, Listen Up, with that group under his own NLO label. Kind of Red, with his sextet, was released in 2000. Levinovsky's band is also featured on the 1999 Kathy Jenkins release From This Moment On. Also available is Sphinx, a compilation of recordings he made with his group Allegro while still in Russia.
In addition to being a fine jazz pianist, Levinovsky is a skilled composer and arranger. He and his wife live in New York where they gig at local jazz venues, perform at festivals, and produce cabaret and jazz shows and jazz albums.