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Milcho Leviev

Milcho Leviev (Bulgarian: Милчо Левиев) (December 19, 1937, Plovdiv, Bulgaria) is a Bulgarian composer, arranger, jazz performer and pianist.

Milcho Leviev graduated from the State Academy of Music in 1960[1] majoring in Composition under Professor Sofia and the Plovdiv Philharmonic. In 1965, embracing the idea of the writer Radoy Ralin, he founded Jazz Focus '65, with which he toured actively till 1970, achieving great success for the Bulgarian jazz and winning prizes at the international jazz festivals in Montreux, Prague and Sofia. Among the most exciting pieces in the repertoire of Jazz Focus '65 was Blues in 10 and Blues in 12, as well as the arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Yesterday.

In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to Los Angeles.[1] Since then, he has lived and worked abroad and achieved professional acclaim at prestigious international music stages. He was allowed to perform in Bulgaria not earlier than 1980.

He worked as composer, arranger and pianist at the Don Ellis (1970–1975) Orchestra and the Billy Cobham Band (1971–77). He toured the USA and Europe; he was Music Director of Lainie Kazan (1977–80). He gave concerts and made recordings with John Klemmer, Art Pepper, Roy Haynes, etc. He toured Europe with Pepper (1980–82); at the same time he was one of the founders and managers of Free Flight, selected Combo of the Year in 1982. Since 1983 he has been music director of the Jazz Sessions at the Comeback Inn in Venice, California. He gave concerts in Japan with the bassist Dave Holland (1983–86) and organized solo jazz recitals in Europe (1985–86). He teaches Jazz Composition at the University of South California. He also gives master classes at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia.

He is author of symphony and chamber works; big band and jazz orchestra music, etc. In the 1960s he also wrote film music.

In 1987 he won the Dramalogue Prize for best music director awarded by the PCPA Theaterfest. His works and performances were recorded by Atlas Records, Alpha, Discovery, Balkanton, Columbia, Atlantic, ABC and others. Part of his works were published by Dick Drove Publications and the Bulgarian publishing house Nauka I Izkustvo (up to 1968). He won a prize at the National Jazz Educational Congress, the Grammy Prize for arrangement, the Honorary Gold Medal of the Académie internationale des Arts in Paris (1995).[1] He was also awarded the honorary title Doctor Honoris Causa by the Academy of Music and Dance Art in Plovdiv (1995) and by the New Bulgarian University.


With Don Ellis

With Al Jarreau

With Arif Mardin

With Billy Cobham

With Airto Moreira


  1. ^ a b c "Milcho Leviev". All About Jazz. 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
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