ABOUT HANK LEVY Hank came of age in the 1940s, when big bands crisscrossed the country playing one-nighters, and when people in Baltimore and other cities regularly went out dancing in nightclubs and ballrooms. There were many excellent bands in the area staffed by musicians in the armed forces and musicians and ideas circulated freely among these groups. Levy was part of this milieu (he attended the Navy School of Music during his three-year hitch) and took full advantage of it in his later career as a teacher, composer, and bandleader.
A Baltimore native, Hank graduated from Baltimore City College, where he led his first band, then attended several colleges, including an unhappy year at the Peabody Conservatory. Hank didn't receive a university degree until he arrived at Towson State College in 1968, where he was forced to earn one in order to teach there. He was mostly a musical autodidact, schooled in experience. In 1953, Hank played baritone saxophone in the legendary Stan Kenton Orchestra for six months, which led to a lifelong friendship with Kenton.
Dave Brubeck's Time Out album, featuring “Take Five” in 5/4 time and “Blue Rondo à la Turk” in 9/8 time, came out in 1959, but other than that, jazz seldom ventured outside the customary 4/4 time, or occasional 3/4 waltz time. Hank composed in time signatures that ventured way outside--to 7/4, 9/4, 11/4. But it wasn't just numbers. The music, while difficult to learn, swung hard. The Kenton band started using his arrangements.