John Levy, who is about to receive his award as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, appeared this week on the Tavis Smiley Show on Public Radio International. The former bassist, active at ninety-three as a respected artist manager, discussed his life, career and thoughts about what is happening to jazz. He speaks as he looks, at least twenty years younger than his age and full of enthusiasm. John expresses even tough opinions with a smile in his voice. A sample:
Jazz has been put into a different category. In other words, to be in jazz today, to start out in it, you have to be young, you have to be white and, in most cases, female.
To hear the entire conversation with John Levy and see photographic proof of his youthful appearance , go to the Tavis Smiley archive. Thanks to DevraDowrite for bringing the interview to our attention.
The other new NEA Jazz Masters, as everyone probably knows by now, are Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy De Franco, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Barretto and Tony Bennett. They will be honored at the IAJE conference in New York next Friday, January 13.
As Devra also points out, Bill Kirchner continues his radio series on WBGO in Newark. He sent a reminder that his show this weekend is devoted to a woman whose talent burned brightly and briefly.
Recently, I taped my next one-hour show for the â€œJazz From the Archivesâ€ series. Presented by the Institute of Jazz Studies, the series runs every Sunday on WBGO-FM (88.3).
Sometime in the mid-1950s, a young woman from Detroit named Sara Cassey (1929-1966) moved to New York City. For a few years in the late â€™50s and early â€™60s, while she worked for Riverside Records, her beautifully-crafted pieces (calling them â€œtunesâ€ doesnâ€™t do them justice) were recorded by Clark Terry (with Thelonious Monk), Hank and Elvin Jones, Billy Taylor, Junior Mance, Johnny Griffin (with Barry Harris), Stan Kenton (with singer Jean Turner), and others. Cassey committed suicide at age 37, and she has been virtually forgotten. But her music still sounds fresh and original, as recordings by the aforementioned artists and others demonstrate.
The show will air this Sunday, January 8, from 11 p.m. to midnight, Eastern Standard Time.
NOTE: If you live outside the New York City metropolitan area, WBGO also broadcasts on the Internet at www.wbgo.org