Wallace Roney, Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter
I think Jazz Heavyweight is a piece of jazz history that’s very important to document. Stan is a link. His life is an amazing story and he was a lovely man. I was totally in awe of meeting him and the legacy that he carries.”
Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones drummer
Stan Levey was the drummer every be-bopper wanted in his rhythm section. And with good reason. Jazz Heavyweight illuminates his role as an ultimate insider and important playermusically and otherwiseduring one of jazz history's most vital eras.”
Don Heckman, International Review of Music
Jazz Heavyweight embraces the life and times of a renaissance man in a topsy turvy world, rich with personalities and celebrities. Having lived through some of this crazy world with Stan and my Dad, this biography really hit home. A must read.”
Frank Marshall, motion picture director and producer
It has been my privilege to have known and worked with Stan Levey. Stan was one of the greatest drummers of our time. While reading this book I was reminded of the many facets of Stan and it invoked several memories of our years working together in the early 1960s with Dizzy Gillespie. He truly had a strong sense of musicality and most importantly soul, which was evident in each and every performance.”
Lalo Schifrin, Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer
Stan Levey was a superb, yet underrated drummer on both the New York bebop scene and the West Coast milieu. Frank Hayde’s engaging biography shines a welcome light on this remarkable percussionist and delivers choice stories, a great many in Levey’s own voice, lending a deep credibility to this book.”
Zan Stewart, ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award recipient
"In a straightforward style, Hayde tells the story of Stan Levey, a self-taught bebop drummer whose life is truly the stuff of legend. The tale, which opens a striking foreword by Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, concerns a scrappy Jewish kid of North Philadelphia, the child a mobbed-up boxing-manager father and a musically inclined mother who encouraged her son in his interests. His early years seem propelled by a desire to play the drums like nobody ever had, and his driving style provided a rhythmic backdrop for stars such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. Levey boxed professionally for a time before Parker introduced him to drugs; the latter eventually led to a two-year stint in prison, which Hayde handles without sensationalism. Levey was a fixture among the Big Apple beboppers and a prime mover on the West Coast scene and Hollywood sessions, and Hayde’s account of his exploits takes readers beyond jazz icons and celebrities into fascinating anecdotes, personal struggles, and a truly charmed life.
"[A] fast-paced biography of the late great jazz drummer Stan Levey . . . This book takes the reader bouncing through Levey's life and times with a lively narrative by author Frank Hayde interspersed with quotes by Levey, his wife Angela, his family, and many luminaries of jazz such as Goodman, Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin, Jay McShann and many others. Levy's recollections, taken from various tapes, notes, and letters, push the book forward with their percussive style . . . Levey roomed with Bird for a while and takes verbal snapshots that are among the most vivid descriptions in print or film of the tragedy that was Bird. . . . This is a book about one of the most exciting times in the history of jazz when everyone in the country was trying to find his or her own way. A time of guts, glory, and turmoil of which Stan Levey was a prime representative. Hayde is a good writer and weaves all the stories into an exciting single narrative."
All About Jazz
"a colorful and meticulously researched work . . . a welcome addition to jazz literature and scholarship”
Broad Street Review
"one of the finest jazz biographies in recent years”
All About Jazz
From the Inside Flap
Stan Levey is one of the most influential drummers in the history of modern jazz. During his extraordinary career, the self-taught Levey played alongside a who’s who of twentieth century jazz artists: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Lester Young, Thelonius Monk, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald . . . the remarkable list goes on and on, and includes dozens of the most distinguished names in the annals of jazz and popular music.
Jazz Heavyweight follows Levey's prolific and colorful life, from his childhood days in rough-and-tumble North Philadelphia as the son of a boxing promoter and manager with ties to the mob, to his stint as a professional heavyweight boxer, to his first gig as a drummer for Dizzy Gillespie at the tender age of sixteen and his meteoric rise as one of the most sought after sidemen in the world of bebop, to his membership in the Lighthouse All-Stars and his prominent role in the creation of West Coast Jazz.
Coinciding with his years anchoring the Lighthouse All-Stars, Levey recorded over two thousand tracks while doing session work with such vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Barbra Streisand. Levey ended his music career as a prolific player on literally thousands of motion picture and television show soundtracks under the direction of such legendary composers as Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, and Andre Previn, among many others.
Jazz aficionados will relish Jazz Heavyweight for its new, never-before-published information about such hugely influential musicians as Parker, Gillespie, and Davis, while jazz neophytes will find a fast-paced, colorful encapsulation of the entire history of modern jazz. This book is essential reading for anyone seeking an up-close-and-personal look at jazz in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Jazz Heavyweight follows Levey's prolific and colorful life, from his childhood days in rough-and-tumble North Philadelphia, to his first gig as a drummer for Dizzy Gillespie at the tender age of sixteen, to his meteoric rise as one of the most sought after sidemen in the world of bebop, to his membership in the Lighthouse All-Stars.