Jesse Levine was born in Boston and began playing piano at the age of 8. Although the emphasis of his music is primarily based on improvisation, his musical endeavors span from hip-hop to electronic music to more performance-based situations. Jesse moved to Montreal from Toronto in 2000, and performed and composed music in a wide variety of music projects, collaborating with musicians Sam Shalabi, John Heward, Alexandre St-Onge, Alex MacSween, and Michel F. Cote. Some bands that he has played keyboards with include the klezmer band Black Ox Orchestar, noise-rock artists Fly Pan Am, and live Hip-Hop ensemble Kalmunity. With the wild and spastic improv-based sextet Balai Mécanique, he has recorded an album, released on No Type in 2003. He has worked with tap-dancer Sarah Febbraro, also know as Big Gold Hoops, and together they performed in many different bars, cafes, record stores and art spaces around Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago.
As a composer, he has worked with interdisciplinary artist Sarah Febbraro, as well as dance artists Emma Howes and Tracy Macneil. He has also composed music for the Montreal film collective Automatic Vaudeville. Upon moving to Chicago from Montreal, Jesse became interested in working with people with special needs, incorporating music as a core element of his instruction. From this experience, he learned that music can have a healing, life-changing quality, and decided to enter his masters in special education, which he is currently pursuing at Loyola University.
Jesse has also explored a solo career. His frantic improvisations when performing under the alias Kosher Dill Spears reveal his love of jazz standards, funky electronic beats, free association crooning, and the blues. Some musical highlights in Chicago include performing solo at the corner of Washington and Wabash as part of the Looptopia all-night festival, playing in Pilsen for an all day community event, and performing with guitarist Bill MacKay at bookstore Myopic.
Most recently, he has an album coming out entitled "(juste) Claudette" with Alex St. Onge, Bernard Falaise and Michel F. Cote, on Montreal label Ambiances Magnetiques this month. He will be going to Montreal to perform with the band in celebration of the release. Jesse hopes to keep collaborating with new musicians while developing his own material as a solo artist. He is excited to be part of the 2nd Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival. Jesse Levine performs at Mess Hall on October 27.