Born: April 5, 1925 | Died: April 19, 2005 Primary Instrument: Drums
Stan Levey, one of the strongest drummers of his generation, was born in Philadelphia in 1926. As a youngster, he showed promise as a boxer, and considered it briefly as a career, but music won out. He played in Philly with Dizzy Gillespie's group in 1942, at the tender age of 17. Soon after, he went to New York, where he and Dizzy worked on 52nd Street with Charlie Parker and Oscar Pettiford. He went on to play on over 1400 recordings and work with most of the big names in the music business at that time. For example: (this is the short list)
Instrumentalists: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Errol Garner, Miles Davis, George Shearing, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Simms, Stan Getz, John Lewis, Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Barney Bigard, Gerry Mulligan, Vince Guaraldi, Lee Konitz, Bud Shank, Charlie Ventura, Scott LaFaro, Victor Feldman, Art Pepper, Charlie Barnett
Big Bands: Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Quincy Jones, Georgie Auld, Charlie Ventura, Boyd Reaburn, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Skitch Henderson The Tonight Show Band
Singers: Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Gary Crosby, Pat Boone, Barbara Streisand, The Supremes, Vic Damone, Nancy Wilson, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, etc. etc.
Over 300 Motion Pictures under: Lalo Schiffren, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, Andre Previn, and many others. T.V. Shows: Over 3000 TV shows, weekly episodes: Bat Man, Mission Impossible, Mannix, Munsters, Addams Family, etc. He also made several albums with his own quintet, and an Album with good friend Max Roach entitled Drumming the Blues. Stan Levey retired from the Music Business in 1973. His last musical job was composing and conducting five movies for the Disney Corp.
Most of Levey's recorded work was as a sideman, though a great outing he recorded as a leader in 1957 is once again available on the VSOP label, entitled Stan Levey Quintet. Examples of his drumming with a large number of groups of all sizes are hard to find, and include works with Shorty Rogers (Portrait of Shorty and Shorty Rogers Plays Richard Rodgers, both from 1957 on the RCA label), with Bill Harris on Bill Harris and Friends (1957: Fantasy label ) and on Stan Getz Meets Gerry Mulligan (1957: Verve label).
Levey could, as they say, cut a Vegas show better than anyone, and a great example of this can be heard on Peggy Lee Live At Basin Street from 1960 on the Capitol label. Among the earliest and most important of Levey's work as a pioneering be-bopper with Charlie Parker is something called Yardbird in Lotus Land (1945-1946: Spotlite label).