Considering that the last of his last four albums was released in 1966 and only one of them is available on CD, there has been a suprising amount of response to the January Rifftides piece about the music of Rod Levitt. A message that arrived this morning updates the Levitt story.
Rod Levitt turned 75 years old in September 2004. In June of that year, after having made contact with him through various friends and acquaintances, I drove up to S. Wardsboro, Vermont where Rod and his wife Jean and their many dogs have lived for years. My purpose was to interview him so I could do a feature on him and his recordings for my radio show, “Jazz from Stuio Four” heard on WGBH, 89.7FM, Boston. The program aired on September 17th, 2004, one day after his 75th.
It took a while to find their house, nestled back on a series of dirt roads that seemed to go nowhere but, voila! There I was pulling into their driveway after making various turns at certain landmarks and mailboxes given to me as signposts (a left at the white picket fence and another left at the falling down garage). The mailbox that looked like a red barn led me up their long gravel road).
I spent the afternoon with Rod. We had lunch and then settled down to work. I brought a DAT tape machine, a couple of good quality microphones and some headphones. Rod’s memory was spotty. Somethings he remembered in minute detail, other times he couldn’t recall the name of someone he sat next to in Dizzy’s band. I myself don’t remember if this was due to his being in the early stages of Altzheimers or Parkinsons. But he ultimately came through and managed to tell me wonderful stories of his days in New York, meeting Quincy Jones, Dizzy and many others and the recordings that he made with them and his own for Riverside and RCA Victor. At times he became very emotional and teary eyed as he recalled a name of location that meant a great deal to him but that he hadn’t thought about in years. He still had his horn and I asked him if he would mind playing something for me. He played the opening notes of “Hollar” from The Dynamic Sound Patterns…
Jazz from Studio Four
WGBH, 89.7FM, Boston
John Pickworth says
Just a slight correction about Rod Levitt in CD.
Bluebird CD”Jazz Workshop/The Arrangers”
there are 5 tracks on CD.
Morning In Montevideo