Brian Levy

headshot of Brian Levy

Assistant Professor, Director of Jazz Studies



Primary Email: [email protected]


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Dr. Brian Levy is a jazz saxophonist and a musicologist with a PhD in musicology from Brandeis University and a DMA in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory of Music.

Dr. Levy was a full-time member of the faculty at The New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston from 2013 until 2023. He served a joint appointment in the Department of Jazz Studies (as the Assistant Chair) and the Department of Music History and Musicology. At NEC he taught performance and academic courses (on jazz improvisation, jazz history, jazz theory and analysis, philosophy and aesthetics of music, and musicological research), was the director of the jazz ensemble program, coached ensembles, taught studio lessons, advised doctoral candidates, and served as the Fulbright Program Advisor. Levy was the 2021 recipient of NEC’s Louis and Adrienne Krasner Teaching Excellence Award.

Dr. Levy is part of a jazz quartet based in Europe, The Rick Hollander Quartet Featuring Brian Levy. The ensemble has performed thirteen European tours since 2016. The quartet has two albums released on Laika Records, The Best Is Yet to Come (2019) and On the Up and Up (2016). The ensemble will be on tour in Europe in both November, 2023 and February 2024.

Dr. Levy’s research interests have culminated in a coauthored improvisation textbook with scholar-author Keith Waters (Professor of Music Theory at the University of Colorado at Boulder). Their textbook, Learning Jazz Improvisation through Historical Voices: Roles Rhythms, and Routines is in production with Oxford University Press. One of the reviewers wrote “Frankly, the book already has me reimagining my approach to teaching and practicing jazz improvisation.” In 2020, Levy’s article “Harmonic and Rhythmic Oppositions in Jazz: The Special Case of John Coltrane and His Classic Quartet” was published in Jazz Perspectives.

Dr. Levy resides in San Diego, California with his wife and two young children.


  • PhD in Musicology, Brandeis University
  • DMA in Jazz Studies, New England Conservatory of Music
  • MM in Jazz Performance, Manhattan School of Music
  • BM in Jazz Performance, William Paterson University


  • Levy, Brian and Keith Waters. Learning Jazz Improvisation through Historical Voices: Roles, Rhythms, and Routines. New York: Oxford University Press, (in production; scheduled for 2024 publication).
  • Levy, Brian. “Harmonic and Rhythmic Oppositions in Jazz: The Special Case of John Coltrane and His Classic Quartet.” Jazz Perspectives 12 (2020): 51-91.
  • Levy, Brian. “Harmonic and Rhythmic Interaction in the Music of John Coltrane.” PhD diss., Brandeis University, 2012.
  • Levy, Brian “Polyrhythmic Superimposition in Jazz: An Overview of Elvin Jones’ and Jazz Artists’ Use of Hemiola and Implied Meters Before 1965.” Sonus (Fall, 2006).