Stan Levey is widely considered to be one of the most influential drummers in the history of modern jazz. During his extraordinary career, the self-taught Levey played alongside a who’s who of twentieth century jazz artists: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Lester Young, Thelonius Monk, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald—the remarkable list goes on and on, and includes dozens of the most distinguished names in the annals of jazz and popular music.
Jazz Heavyweight follows the prolific and colorful life of Levey, from his childhood days in rough-and-tumble North Philadelphia as the son of a boxing promoter and manager with ties to the mob, to his first gig as a drummer for Dizzy Gillespie at the tender age of 16, through his meteoric rise as one of the most sought after sidemen in the world of bebop, to his membership in the Lighthouse All-Stars and his prominent role in the creation of West Coast Jazz.
Coinciding with his years anchoring the Lighthouse All-Stars, Levey recorded over two thousand tracks while doing session work with such vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Barbra Streisand. Levey ended his music career as a prolific player on literally thousands of motion picture and television show soundtracks under the direction of such legendary composers as Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, and Andre Previn.
Jazz aficionados will relish Jazz Heavyweight for its new, never-before-published information about such hugely influential musicians as Parker, Gillespie, and Davis, while jazz neophytes will find a fast-paced, colorful encapsulation of the entire history of modern jazz. Indeed, Jazz Heavyweight is essential reading for anyone seeking an up-close-and-personal look at jazz in the latter half of the twentieth century.