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Miles Davis circa 1955; Duke Ellington; Louis Armstrong; Cover of Sheet Music by Fats Waller
BiographiesSelected Artist Biography
Biographies, Life and times of the great ones Billie Holiday in Performance 1948; Benny Goodman 1936; Art Blakey at the Open Door in NYC; Awning of Village Vanguard 1960's
Stan Levey

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(1925 - ) Drummer

At the age of 17, Stan Levey played with Dizzy Gillespie in Philadelphia and then moved to New York, where in the early 1940s he worked at the Onyx Club with Oscar Pettiford. In 1944, he joined Charlie Parker's band at the Spotlite and served as the first drummer in a group led by Coleman Hawkins, which also included Thelonious Monk and Little Benny Harris. Levey's crisp, neat style made him much in demand, and he played with such musicians as Gillespie, Barney Bigard, George Shearing, and Allen Eager.

In 1945 Levey toured with a group consisting of Gillespie, Parker, Milt Jackson, Lucky Thompson, Al Haig, and Ray Brown; he then returned to work at the Spotlite with Gillespie and Leo Parker. The experience he gained in big bands with Charlie Ventura, Georgie Auld, Freddie Slack, and Woody Herman eventually led to a place in Stan Kenton's band (1952-4). Thereafter Levey settled in California, where he was a member of Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars (1954-8) and played on film and television soundtracks. In the early 1960s he continued to work as a studio musician, and performed with many singers, including Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald, before ceasing to be a professional musician. Levey's playing was clean and accurate; he was at his best when playing fast bop numbers.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only. Copying or other reproduction is prohibited.
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