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Bebop Spoken There

Gregory Porter: "A lot of energy in jazz is emanating right from the UK and that's awesome." - (Music Week 03.08.2020)

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11,740 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 880 of them this year alone and, so far, 17 this month (August 4).

Coming soon ...

August

Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Book Review: Frank R. Hayde - Stan Levey Jazz Heavyweight

One of my first port of calls, when I make my infrequent trips to our capital city, is Judd Books where it has to be said, I've never failed to make a purchase.

This time around, clutched in my sweaty palm was a biography of drummer Stan Levey - Stan Levey Jazz Heavyweight by Frank R. Hayde.*

It's an appropriate title as the future Kenton percussionist did, in his early years, don the gloves in the squared circle - even at Madison Square Gardens fighting on the undercard. This was the 1950s when the fight game was very much mob controlled. If Blinky Palermo or Frankie Carbo told you to go into the tank you dived.
Fortunately, Levey found he could use his fists better holding a pair of drumsticks and, despite being a right-hander, because he'd had no formal training, he set up his drums southpaw style and yet went on to become one of the greatest of modern jazz drummers. 

Levey hung out with Parker in the early days of bebop and, surprise, surprise, he found himself hooked. Like so many of his famous contemporaries, he served time but, unlike most, he found the strength to clean up his act.

In retrospect, I now realise how fortunate I was in hearing Levey with the Paul Smith Trio and Ella at a 1962 JATP gig at Newcastle City Hall. The extrovert Smith tended to hog the limelight so I didn't fully appreciate the drummer at the time.

It was around this time I first heard Richie Kamuka and, later - after Roly Veitch reminded me of how good a tenor player Kamuka was - I started collecting his albums. I now find that Levey plays drums on most of them and, at the time of typing, I'm listening to Grand Stan, from the album of the same name which has Levey going for gold. If he'd fought like he played drums, and had the chance, Marciano would have known he was in a fight!

With a foreword by Charlie Watts, this authorized 2016 biography is a worthy addition to your jazz library.
Lance.
* £4.95 @ Judd Books!

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