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  • Writer's pictureMax Levowitz

My First Big Job

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Everybody comes across a job that they say was their first "big break." Getting an invite to an elite prospect camp for a sport, having a couple big companies allow you to design their website in order to help build your portfolio, having friends let you take their headshots for free to expand your portfolio, etc. Well, my first big break came in the fall of 2015, while my dad Adam Levowitz, a composer, trumpet player, pianist and UNT Grad in his own right, was living in New York City and I was able to play my second professional gig as a musician in the greatest city on earth, playing second trumpet next to somebody who I'd like to be in the same section with some day in a Broadway pit orchestra.

The Tarantino Soundtrack

My dad moved to New York after I graduated high school in 2013 to pursue a dream he always had of becoming a producer on Broadway. While he was working on that he got this idea to take the hit songs from Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown, arrange them for a ten-piece band with four or more vocalists and put it on stage in a cabaret style show. Well, in January of 2016, he did just that.

That January I flew up to New York, to perform at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City in the first Tarantino Soundtrack. Many of Broadway’s best vocalists and instrumentalists played in that show, and in the other iterations he did of it in New York at B.B. King's and in Washington D.C. at The Howard Theatre. The amazing part about the shows I was able to play in New York were who I was playing second to. John Chudoba has been performing in Broadway pit orchestras for a long time now, including Spamalot, West Side Story, Motown among others, and also played with Maynard Ferguson and regularly performs in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

My dad met John on the subway a few years before that, so he reached out to John to play the show and I was hired to play second. This may seem like a pity hire or a typical coach plays his own son thing, but this show is not easy and hiring me to play it was huge for me. I would never have been hired if I had not been capable of playing the show, which I was, and have performed it several times since including playing some lead on the show. But why was this so big for me? Well, as you can imagine, John is an incredible player and somebody whose career path I'd like to follow. I loved playing in the musical pits in high school and some summer stage in college, and I always felt that playing in a Broadway pit orchestra is something I'd love to do. So, having John get to hear me two times on this show, listen to him and be his second player, as well as have Josh Plotner and Steve Lyon (the other two horn players on the show who also are New York and Broadway regulars) hear me play was huge at that point. Yes, I was very young and still had a LOT of musical growing up to do, and still have some musical maturity that needs to be developed. But that was still what I consider as my first real big job. It potentially opened up doors for me in the future in order to be in that city and to try and work a little bit.

Being a professional musician, especially in the world of freelance, is about making connections. You don't just move somewhere, call up the local musician's union and say "hi, I'm living here now please find me work," or call random people who you know live there and say the same thing. People need to know if you can play or not and they need to know if, more importantly, they are somebody they would WANT to play with or sub for them. "I need a sub for the next week, call Max Levowitz. He's new in town, he's a great guy to be around and I think he can do this," versus the alternative which is, "Hey (trumpet player) I'm looking for a sub for you, do you know who this Max Levowitz guy is?" "Nope, never heard of him." Having a degree from The University of North Texas might help me get to the doors a little bit easier, but at the end of the day making connections with these people and getting to know people is how you break in.

This was an amazing show to perform, and I'm lucky to have performed it with John Chudoba, Garrett Faccone and Kenny Bischoff as the other trumpet players respectively.

If you think this show sounds really cool and you'd like to find out more information, drop me an email! The show has been performed in New York City, Washington D.C. and Denton, TX. Could it be coming to a city near you? Perhaps...

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