Lou Levy (p), John Heard (b), Shelly Manne (d)
Reference: FSRCD 949
Bar code: 8427328609494
Issued in 1983 as “The Kid’s Got Ears”, this album is one of the best and rarest that legendary Chicago pianist Lou Levy (1928-2001) recorded during his long and successful career. “Guess I’ve been lucky in music,” he smiled. “It seems like I was in the right place at the right time all my life, getting to play with Stan Getz, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey, Terry Gibbs… And then, of course, there were the great vocalists I’ve worked with—Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Frank Sinatra…”
Levy’s attack is rapid-fire and many-noted, while his left rumbles at the chord progressions. His playing was known for its smooth sophistication and subtle swing. “From the way I play, I suppose you could say that Bud Powell has been my biggest influence. Art Tatum’s approach to harmony certainly influenced me too. It was so… so rich. But, of course, there are many other pianists I have great admiration for. Oscar Peterson, for instance. Naturally, other instrumentalists made a great impression. Certainly, Charlie Parker. And Dizzy, Miles, and Al Cohn.”
There’s a reason I’m Old Fashioned gives title to this album. Levy admitted to have a soft spot for this tune. “I did that solo. I figured maybe I could handle that since it’s my favorite tune.” And it is a beautiful effort indeed. Be it solo, in a duet with bassist John Heard, or in a trio with drummer Shelly Manne, Levy shows his remarkable blend of lyricism and swing at each step. A model of taste, where the execution goes hand in hand with the creativity of this vastly underestimated pianist.
01. High On You (Al Cohn) 3:41
02. I Won't Dance (Kern-Hammerstein II-Harbach) 4:24
03. I'm Old Fashioned (Kern-Mercer) 4:33
04. Limehouse Blues (Philip Braham) 5:34
05. Take the ‘A’ Train (Billy Strayhorn) 5:15
06. Estate (Martino-Brighetti) 4:38
07. I'm All Smiles (Mickey Leonard) 5:16
08. You Say You Care (Styne-Robbins) 4:01
09. Wait 'Til You See Her (Rodgers-Hart) 2:45
10. Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead (Arlen-Harburg) 2:43
All tracks previously issued as “The Kid’s Got Ears!” (Jazzizz JIR 4002)
Lou Levy, piano
On #1,4,6,8: John Heard, bass; Shelly Manne, drums
On #2,5,7: John Heard, bass
On #3,9,10: Lou Levy, solo piano
Recorded at Sage & Sound Studios, Hollywood, November 27 & 28, 1982
Recording engineer: Jim Mooney
Original recordings produced by Jim Brown
Liner notes: Jordi Pujol / A. James Liska
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
Stereo · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
"In this present era of atonal naval gazing at the ivories, this reissue by Fresh Sound Records remind us of a time and style when the swing pulse was inherent in every tune, be it upbeat or relaxed and casual.
Lou Levy made his living as a sideman for the likes of Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and the popular Supersax, rarely putting anything out on his own name, making this 1982 Hollywood session a real delight. Mixing and matching between solo performances, duets and trios with John Heard/b and Shelly Manne/dr, Levy shows style, class and bop on a silver platter as he sensuously samba’s on “High On You,” is gracious on “I Won't Dance” and pulls a surprise ballad read of “Take the ‘A’ Train” with Heard’s bass waxing eloquent. His solo tracks are real clever, with a nocturnal “I’m Old Fashioned” and coy “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead.” Textbook on how a piano should bop with brains."
George W. Harris (March 22, 2018)
"The short-lived Jazzizz label (based in Oregon) lasted long enough to come out with a couple of LPs. This set gave the talented veteran Lou Levy (always a superior bop-based pianist) a rare chance to lead his own date. He performs swinging versions of a variety of standards, plus Al Cohn's "High On You" and "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead." The latter is one of three unaccompanied piano solos, and in addition, there are three piano-bass duets with John Heard and four trio numbers that add drummer Shelly Manne. A fine if rather obscure set."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
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