The Beginnings Of Bebop

Stan Levey

An informative documentary about the early bop drummer

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Stan Levey (1926-2005) is sometimes overlooked in the jazz history books but the drummer was one of the pioneers of bebop, playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and the other founders of the music.

His very first job was with Gillespie in 1942 when he was just 16 and, until he retired from music in the 1970s to become a full-time photographer, Levey appeared worked with the bop greats, was a member of Stan Kenton’s strongest orchestra (1952-53), and appeared on thousands of recordings as a studio musician (including with Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole).

In this definitive documentary directed and co-produced by Arthur Shelby Pritz, Stan Levey is the main person interviewed, talking at length about working with Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Barney Bigard, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, and Charlie Parker; in fact, Parker is himself heard in interviews talking about Levey.

Others who are interviewed and tell interesting stories about the beginnings of bop include Charlie Watts, journalist Don Heckman, Hank Jones, Terry Gibbs, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Quincy Jones.

This is an informative film that is well worth seeing.

-Scott Yanow


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