born on 11/11/1932 in New York City, NY, United States
died on 28/11/1994 in Paris, Île-de-France, France
Alan Levitt (November 11, 1932 – November 28, 1994) was an American jazz drummer.
Levitt was born in New York City to Ben Levitt (1908-1941) and Florence Cohen Levitt (1912-1950). Early in life he showed an interest in music. In the early 1940s he went to an inter-racial summer camp, Camp Wo-Ch-Ca, where he met Mike Stoller. they became close friends and both became interested in boogie-woogie and jazz. In 1947 (when they were 14 years old) they frequented a social club at 124 W.124th Street in Harlem. For the next 2 years they would spend week-end evenings together on Manhattan's 52nd Street listening to Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Oscar Pettiford, Erroll Garner, etc. In 1949, at age 16, Mike Stoller moved to Los Angeles. Al went on to be a jazz drummer. Mike met another young man in Los Angeles and they wrote songs together. They were known as Leiber & Stoller In high school Al used to play hooky with friends and visit Thelonious Monk's apartment around the corner, where they would beg him to play. Monk never did play for them and would play for them only his favorite jazz albums in exchange for pot or change. Levitt studied with Lennie Tristano for many years, along with Lee Konitz. Levitt also studied occasionally with Max Roach. (I met Al when we were both 7 years old -Mike Stoller)
Later life and career
In the New York jazz scene, Levitt frequented all the popular jazz clubs and sat in with many of the greats, including Charlie Parker. One of his favorite stories was running into Parker on a frigid winter morning with Parker wearing nothing more than a Superman T-shirt and a blazer. Parker borrowed $5 from him and that was the last time Levitt ever saw him. Parker died in 1955.
After moving to the Canary Islands, Spain, in 1973 with Stella his common law wife and her five children, Robby, Billy, Teresa, Sean and Minou, Levitt played there with Canadian bass player Lloyd Thompson, Dutch pianist Nico Bunink, and American trumpeter and jazz club owner Don Jeter. Moving then to Madrid, Levitt played with many jazz artists, such as Spanish pianist Pedro Itturalde.
Moving to France in 1975, Levitt again met and played with his friends from the U.S. In Paris he founded his own group with jazz musicians such as Alain Jean Marie. His group consisted of Stella on vocals, Sean on guitar, Alain Jean Marie on piano and Gus Nemeth on bass, among others. During this time Levitt toured and played with Paul Bley, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, Jimmy Raney, Dexter Gordon, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, J.J. Johnson, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Jimmy Gourley, Peter Ind, Martial Solal, René Urtreger, Pierre Michelot, Michel Petrucciani, Clark Terry, Dorothy Donegan, Barney Wilen, and others.
Levitt's children with his wife Stella were Michelle, George, Minou, Sean, Theresa, Billy, Robin.
Levitt was a contributing writer for Jazz Hot magazine in France. He died in Paris.
Levitt studied piano with Moses Chusids in high school. Later, he studied under Lennie Tristano along with Lee Konitz, and studied drums under Irv Kluger in 1949-50. In the early 70s he picked up studies again with Max Roach.
In the early 1950s Levitt played with
- Barbara Carroll (1950),
- Chuck Wayne (1950–51),
- Charles Mingus (1951),
- Lennie Tristano (1952),
- Stan Getz (1953), on Stan Getz and the Cool Sounds (Verve, 1953–55, )
- Paul Bley (1954–55),
- Lee Konitz (1954–56).
- Hazel Scott ( dates unknown)
He moved to The Netherlands in 1956, playing there with Pia Beck. Thereafter he played in Paris with
- Sidney Bechet,
- Rene Urtreger,
- Allen Eager,
- Martial Solal,
- Guy Lafitte,
- Stephane Grappelli,
- Barney Wilen.
After returning to the United States in 1958, he played with
- Toshiko Akiyoshi (1958),
- Shirley Horn (1959),
- Scott LaFaro/Dick Haymes (1959–60),
- Ronnie Ball/Chris Connor (1960–61),
- Candido Camero (1962–63),
- Teddy Edwards: Sunset Eyes (Pacific Jazz, 1960)
- Donna Lee (Levitt) (1959, 1960 and they were married, birthed Jolie Levitt),
- Stella Levitt (1964,
- Georgie Auld (1965–66), Jackie Paris/Ann Marie Moss (1967),
- Lionel Hampton 1967-68),
- Chris Connor and David Allyn (1970),
- Mingus again in 1972.
In 1968 he recorded for ESP-Disk along with his wife Stella, and his stepson Sean
In 1973 Levitt moved to the Canary Islands. He played with Pedro Itturalde in Spain and led his own group. Moving to Paris again in 1975, he played in Europe with
- Peter Ind,
- Martial Solal,
- Guy Lafitte,
- René Urtreger,
- Slide Hampton,
- Warne Marsh,
- Lee Konitz,
- Jimmy Raney,
- Chet Baker,
- Alain Jean-Marie (many times from 1978),
- Kai Winding and Kenny Drew (1979),
- Sonny Stitt (1981),
- James Moody (1981),
- Horace Parlan (1984, 1986–87),
- Steve Grossman (1985),
- Benny Carter (1985),
- Kenny Drew and Teddy Edwards (1986–87),
- Duke Jordan (early 1990s).
- Babs Gonzales
- Dorothy Donegan
- Zoot Sims
- Harry "Sweets" Edison
- Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
Levitts - We Are The Levitts - ESP-Disk 1095 (1969)
He also co-led a group with Nathalie Loriers.
With Lee Konitz
- Lee Konitz at Storyville (Storyville, 1954)
- Live at the Montmartre Club: Jazz Exchange Vol. 2 (Storyville, 1975 ) with Warne Marsh
- Lee Konitz Meets Warne Marsh Again (Pausa, 1976) with Warne Marsh
With Warne Marsh
- The Unissued 1975 Copenhagen Studio Recordings (Storyville, 1975 )
- The Unissued Copenhagen Studio Recordings (Storyville, 1975 )