Today is Lou Levy’s birthday. Until his death at 72, the great second-generation bop pianist (1928-2001) played with Boyd Raeburn, Woody Herman’s Second Herd, Tommy Dorsey, Dizzy Gillespie, Flip Phillips, Dizzy Gillespie and Shorty Rogers, among dozens of other major jazz artists. He was a treasured accompanist to singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day and his longtime companion Pinky Winters.
Levy’s close relationship with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz went back to their time together in the Herman band from 1948 to 1952. I remember his concern and affection for Getz in the early 1990s when Getz had fallen ill from what turned out to be a fatal cancer. “I’m going over to Malibu again to hold that blue-eyed devil’s hand,” Levy told me. Here are the old friends in Levy’s quartet in Italy in 1961. Ray Brown is the bassist, Ed Thigpen the drummer. They play Gillespie’s “Woody’n You” and “Ah, Moore,” written by Al Cohn, Lou’s colleague in the Herman reed section. The sound is adequate but a bit muffled. You may want to crank up your volume a bit.
Missing Lou Levy. Always glad to hear (and see) him.