Charles Levin Music


Charles Levin is a drummer, composer and bandleader, based in Ventura, Calif. who specializes in jazz, R&B, blues, Americana, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music.

Charles has played drums since age 11 when he took his first private lessons in Roslyn, N.Y. with the late Johnny Blowers (Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bunny Berigan, Frank Sinatra).

Young Charles

Between 1975 and 1993, Charles played with numerous bands and artists, spanning a diverse array of styles. His performing credits include work with pianists Paul Nagel, Andy Ostwald and Smith Dobson IV; tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin; singer-songwriter Tony Gilkyson; singers Madeline Eastman and Kitty Margolis; guitarist Vernon Black; bassists Stan Poplin, Carol Kaye and Zev Katz; and percussionists Chalo Eduardo, Dennis Broughton, Jimi Fox and Michael Spiro.

Charles has also performed with the Santa Cruz County Symphony, Monterey Symphony, UCSC Ensemble Nova and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. He has appeared at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, and underneath the Space Needle at Seattle’s Bumpershoot Festival.


Charles holds a BFA in classical percussion (1975) and MFA in jazz studies (2012) from California Institute of the Arts. His teachers have included John Bergamo, Kobla and Alfred Ladzekpo, Peter Erskine, Joe La Barbera and Aaron Serfaty.

  Charles Graduation

Charles and Jessie Jackson

Charles worked as a journalist from 1993 to 2008, covering local government for daily newspapers and winning several awards for his reporting and writing. His byline as a jazz writer also appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Downbeat, Jazziz and the Monterey Jazz Festival program.

Charles resumed his musical career in 2005. He currently leads the jazz ensemble Coda.  He has also performed with singers Margie Nelson, Kevin Winard and Mike Prendergrast; The Swizzle Sisters; and jazz-bluegrass fiddler Lauren Donahue. He also plays in the big band program at Santa Barbara City College where he has performed with saxophonists Plas Johnson and Bob Mintzer.