The career of Bronx-born musician and producer Stewart Levine is one marked by long-term associations with artists such as Hugh Masekela, Simply Red, and the Crusaders. Most at home when working with percussion-based groups, Levine is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied theory and met friend and longtime collaborator Hugh Masekela. The two teamed up to create the Chisa label in the mid-'60s, an outlet for their love of African rhythms and Third World artists. The pair enjoyed their biggest hit with 1968's The Promise of a Future, which Masekela recorded and Levine produced; the hit Grazing in the Grass became a breakthrough for world music. Levine then built on his percussive heavy work with Masekela when he teamed up with the Jazz Crusaders to produce nearly all of their '70s output. When Chisa was bought out by the Blue Note label, Levine extended his production chores even further, becoming an independent and manning the board for the jazz fusion of the Dixie Dregs, as well as several classic albums by blues legend B.B. King. In the '80s Levine began a wildly successful partnership with U.K. neo-soul band Simply Red. The group's debut, Picture Book, spawned two enormous hits, Money's Too Tight (To Mention) and Holding Back the Years, and, even though their U.S. chart dominance fizzled, under Levine's expert tutelage Simply Red continued to have hits in their native U.K. ~ Steve Kurutz, Rovi
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