[members-announce] One of 7 New NEA Jazz Masters

Devra Hall devra at devrahall.com
Tue Sep 13 08:24:33 EDT 2005



/(//September 13, 2005// - Los //Angeles//, //CA//)/   National 
Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia announced today that John 
Levy is one of the seven living legends of American music who will join 
the ranks of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters in 
January. Levy will receive the /A.B. Spellman //NEA Jazz Masters Award 
for Jazz Advocacy/, for his career as a manager.

When notified, Levy said, "I have been in attendance at the last three 
NEA Jazz Masters ceremonies and not in my wildest imagination did I 
expect to ever receive this most prestigious award.  To be so honored 
for helping talented artists bring jazz and joy into the lives of 
audiences is the thrill of a lifetime."

Levy, the great-grandson of Louisiana slaves, was born in New Orleans in 
1912 and is considered to be the first black talent manager in jazz and 
popular music. He has made millions of dollars for his clients bringing 
them from sometimes-total anonymity to the rarefied atmosphere of success.

The vast and impressive roster of notables handled by John Levy over the 
past 50 years includes more than 85 artists, eight of whom are already 
NEA Jazz Masters: Betty Carter, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Ahmad 
Jamal, Abby Lincoln, Billy Taylor, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson; and 
one more, Freddie Hubbard, who will join the ranks with him in 2006. 
Other notable clients on the Levy roster through the years include 
Cannonball Adderley, Ernie Andrews, Brook Benton, Randy Crawford, 
Roberta Flack, Arsenio Hall, Eddie Harris, Johnny Hartman, Henry 
Johnson, Etta Jones, Yusef Lateef, Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Mann, Letta 
Mbulu, Les McCann, Wes Montgomery, Billy Paul, Dianne Reeves, Marlena 
Shaw, George Shearing, Dakota Staton, Stanley Turrentine, Sarah Vaughan, 
and Maxine Weldon.

Levy began his jazz career as a bassist. In 1944, he left Chicago with 
the Stuff Smith Trio to play an extended engagement at the Onyx club on 
New York City's 52^nd Street.  Over the next years, he was to play with 
many jazz notables, including Ben Webster, Buddy Rich, Errol Garner, and 
Milt Jackson (also a Jazz Master), as well as with Billie Holiday at her 
comeback performance at Carnegie Hall in 1948.

In 1949, George Shearing heard Levy play at Birdland with Buddy Rich's 
big band and hired him for his own group, which featured Buddy DeFranco 
(yet another 2006 Jazz Master Fellow).  As Levy toured the country 
playing with the original George Shearing Quintet, he gradually took on 
the role of road manager. Levy put aside performing in 1951 to become 
the group's full-time manager, making music-industry history and 
establishing the career he would follow for the rest of his life. Levy 
is still active today as manager of the legendary song stylist Nancy 
Wilson and jazz vocalist Clairdee.

When "Men, Women, and Girl Singers" (Levy's autobiography written by his 
wife, Devra Hall Levy) was published in 2001, Levy said, "I'd like to be 
remembered as someone who helped musicians and singers spread the love 
of jazz around the world." It seems only fitting that the NEA honor him 
for that.

 Initiated in 1982, the NEA Jazz Master title is the nation's highest 
honor in this distinctively American art form.  Levy is looking forward 
to joining his 2006 Fellows - Ray Barretto (percussionist), Tony Bennett 
(vocalist), Bob Brookmeyer (arranger-composer), Chick Corea 
(keyboardist), Buddy DeFranco (solo instrumentalist, clarinet), and 
Freddy Hubbard (solo instrumentalist, trumpet) - at the January 2006 
awards ceremony in New York City.

# # #

*_Editor's Note:_*   

            For more information about John Levy, visit www.lushlife.com 
            For more information on NEA Jazz Masters, visit 
www.neajazzmasters.org <http://www.neajazzmasters.org/>

*_Press Information:_*

About John Levy - Regina Davis, Davis & Associates Public Relations.
Telephone:  626.356.1300 . Email: Rdavisprpr at aol.com 
<mailto:Rdavisprpr at aol.com>

About NEA Jazz Masters - Victoria Hutter, National Endowment for the Arts
Telephone: 202.682.5692 . Email: hutterv at arts.endow.gov 
<mailto:hutterv at arts.endow.gov>


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