It is with the greatest of pleasure we welcome to KJAZZ Radio UK Myroslav Levytsky and his band Braty Bluzu. Myroslav Levytsky is a pianist, composer, producer and leader of the highly popular (worldwide) Ukrainian jazz-rock group Braty Bluzu. Since 2007 Levytsky has been a member of Autoren, Komponisten und Musikverleger (AKM) of Austria., a performance rights organization.
Levytsky was the first child born to the family of Vera Levytsky, an elementary school teacher, and Roman Levytsky, a doctor. From 1974 through 1980 Levytsky studied piano at both the Kalush music studio and music school. While neither of his parents were musicians they always enjoyed music. Levytsky has relatives who were professional musicians, his mother’s brother Cornelius Ilych Saiinchuk was a conductor, and his father’s brother Myroslav Yevhenovych Levytsky worked for many years in traditional folk music.
Upon completing his studies Levytsky enrolled in the Ivano-Frankivsk Pedagogical Institute in 1980, and studied to become a music teacher. In 1982 while still studying in Levytsky becomes involved in what is known as VIA music, or Vocal Instrumental Ensembles, these types of groups were allowed to develop as a counter to the influence of western Rock and roll and a way to allow domestic contemporary music to develop. His first venture into working as a professional musician was with VIA Rosynka based in Ivano-Frankivsk. Before completing his studies and graduating with specialization as a music teacher in 1984, Levytsky in 1983 becomes musical director and keyboardist with the VIA Barvy based out of his home town of Kalush.
The next five years would include many changes for Levytsky, it was the period of Perebudova in the Soviet Ukraine, Perestroika in the Russian language, under Mikhail Gorbachev.
Levytsky would find him self spread between three different musical projects in two different locations. Based out of Rivne, Levytsky played piano with Zhayvir during this period and also spent time with two Moscow-based groups: Wayland Rudd, Jr. and Irina Ponarovskaya, playing keyboards with both.
While working with Ponarovskaya Levytsky got his first taste of the concert tour performing in a great number of cities in Ukraine and other major cities in the Soviet Union.
In 1991 after working with Ponarovskaya Levytsky returned to Ukraine and worked as a pianist at the Yurstya i Steftsya” Theatre in Lviv and with the group Zahrava in Kolomyia.
In 1992 Levytsky with his brother Oleh Levytsky decided to form their own band Braty Bluzu in their home town of Kalush. The band included two former members from Zahrava: bass player Andriy Melnyk and drummer Andriy Vintsersky, they were also joined by Andriy Valaha on violin and Serhiy Taftay on guitar.
One of the first festivals they played at was the second and final Vyvykh in Lviv in 1992.
A year later, at the Chervona Ruta festival in Donetsk in 1993 Braty Bluzu won the Grand Prix of the festival. It may have just been their composition called Authentic Life which had been receiving considerable airplay which may have contributed to the group’s success at the festival.
Regardless of the group’s success, it was faced by tragedy. Prior to leaving from Donetsk, the group’s fiddler, Andriy Valaha at quite a young age experienced an aneurysm. The members of the group along with other musician’s who were at the festival came together to ensure that Valaha received the care necessary.
Over the years Valaha was replaced by a number of different fiddlers including Oleskandr Dzhahan, Kyrylo Stetsenko, the great-grandson of the composer Kyrylo Stetsenko and Zakhar Valaha, Andriy’s son.
From 1994 through 1997 Levytsky together with Braty Bluzy performed concerts in Budapest, Hungary, Prešov, Slovakia, Munich, Paris, New York, Elbląg and Warsaw.
Levytsky has a genuine natural touch on the piano, with subtle nuances and a wonderful feel for rhythm. His constantly syncopating, colorful compositions are captivating with the richness of their unusual pattern of imagery and intonation. With his original interpretive style the composer recasts the works of piano masters Chopin, Debussy, Mussorgsky and Beethoven. This is not a reproach but a compliment to the musician, who works in jazz. His academic education and skill have helped Levytsky develop his own original composition and performance technique. The presence of Ukrainian motifs plays a far from inconsiderable role in his style, which is rooted not so much in Ukrainian ethnicity as in the piano style of the Ukrainian romantic composers.