As our 10th Anniversary April Offer is ‘All about the Bass’ and April is Jazz Appreciation Month we thought we’d make today’s birthday tribute all about jazz bassist John Levy.
Levy was born on this day in 1912 in New Orleans. There is little documented about his life before he left his family in 1944 and moved to New York, where he played bass for a number of renowned Jazz musicians such as Ben Webster, Erroll Garner Jazz Project, Milt Jackson, and legendary Billie Holiday. In 1949, he became the bassist in the original George Shearing Quintet, where he also acted as Shearing’s road manager.
In 1951, Levy opened John Levy Enterprises, Inc., becoming the first African-American personal manager in the pop or jazz music field. By the 1960s, Levy’s client roster included Shearing, Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley, Joe Williams, Shirley Horn, Jimmie Raye (soul singer), and Ramsey Lewis, to name but a few.
In 1997, Levy was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. He died, aged 99, in Altadena, California.