He studied at Boston University and received a master"s degree from Juilliard School of music in New York City.
He is the brother of King Crimson"s and Peter Gabriel"s Chapman Stick and bass player Tony Levin. His first instrument as a teenager was the French horn. In the early 1970s he joined the Gil Evans Orchestra as a French horn player.
At the time, Levin was experimenting with synthesizers.
Over time Gil Evans incorporated Levin"s synthesizer sound into the compositions and Levin"s role changed to a full-time keyboardist. His fifteen-year association with the Gil Evans Orchestra was followed by an eight-year association with Jimmy Giuffre.
Levin plays the hammond organ, clavinet and moog synthesizer. He has produced several albums as a band leader including the 2007 Deacon Blues.
The album is a tribute to and styled after the works of Oscar Pettiford and Julius Watkins.
Levin has performed for film and television scores including Missing in Action, Lean on Maine, Silver Bullet, Red Scorpion, The Color of Money, Maniac, Spin City, America"s Most Wanted and Star Trek. He has written scores of his own for Zelimo and The Dybbuk. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for writing the official military band arrangement of the United States. Infantry song.
He has worked with a wide range of artists including Carla Bley, Brubeck Brothers, Hiram Bullock, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Cobham, Willie Colón, Miles Davis, Rachelle Farrell, Bryan Ferry, Gregory Hines, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Annie Lennox, Chuck Mangione, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Jaco Pastorius, Robbie Robertson, Salt-n-Pepa, David Sanborn, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Paul Simon, Lew Soloff, Vanessa Williams, and Lenny White.
Regarding his creative work, Levin stated that "All my arranging and orchestrating work is grounded in what I experience in live performance () My best and most creative ideas come from playing live.".