John Levy Feature Story Page 2
In 1949, John met George Shearing, a meeting that would change his life in many ways. In addition to playing bass for the popular George Shearing Quintet, Levy acted as manager. In 1951, he opened John Levy Enterprises, Inc, and became the first black personal manager in the pop or jazz music field.
John Levy was known as a bass player who knew how to accompany the soloist, or the other members of the band. He transferred this talent to the way he viewed his work as a manager…someone who was always thinking of how he could “best accompany the soloist…what is the best way to support what they are expressing musically”. John certainly exceeded his expectations as his unparalleled career took off managing a “Who’s Who” of jazz superstars including Cannonball Adderley, Brook Benton, Betty Carter, Randy Crawford, Roberta Flack, Arsenio Hall, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Harris, Johnny Hartman, Shirley Horn, Freddie Hubbard, Ahmad Jamal, Henry Johnson, Etta Jones, Yusef Lateef, Ramsey Lewis, Abby Lincoln, Herbie Mann, Letta Mbulu, Les McCann, Wes Montgomery, Billy Paul, Dianne Reeves, Marlena Shaw, George Shearing, Dakota Staton, Dr. Billy Taylor, Stanley Turrentine, Sarah Vaughan, Maxine Weldon,
Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson to name just a few.
In “Strollin”, readers go “back stage” with Levy as he toured Japan with Cannonball Adderley in 1963, and to Ghana in 1971 with Ike and Tina Turner and Roberta Flack. Historic photographs with the Jackson 5 and the Temptations in 1972, numerous years at the Playboy and Monterey Festivals, and a special feature of Leroy Hamilton’s photographs from the 2006 NEA Jazz Master events are some of the highlights of this visual journal. With over 400 personal and professional photographs, “Strollin” provides a never-before-seen glimpse into the life of a man who has significantly changed the way we view Jazz.
John Levy feels that he “was put on earth to try to help people reach their full potential. For each person that I’ve managed, I’ve looked at their career in a different way and tried
to find out what their aims were and where they were trying to go. Then I did my very best to put people around them and to work with people to help them reach their potential”.
A collective THANK YOU goes out to John Levy from any and all who love JAZZ, for his many years of sharing his exceptional gifts that helped to shape the talents of so many over the decades, and thus shape the world of Jazz as we know it.
For more information on “Strollin’: A Jazz Life Through John Levy’s Personal Lens” visit: www.snapsizzlebop.com.