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Tony Levin RIP

Sunday, February 06, 2011


The sad news of Tony Levin’s passing came via Allan Dickie of the Shropshire Jazz Network. Born in Shropshire Levin continued to reside in the county and was a great supporter of SJN and their gigs at The Hive and he played there as recently as January 15th as a member of the Peter King Quartet. Tony also continued to teach at Birmingham Conservatoire and his loss will also be keenly felt by our friends at Birmingham Jazz.

Tony Levin was a seminal figure in British jazz and appeared on many pivotal recordings. I’ll leave the full career overview to the official obituaries but I’d like to relay a couple of personal memories. Only last summer I witnessed the seventy year old Levin in fine form at the inaugural Titley Jazz Festival in my native Herefordshire. Ironically he was depping in the groups of Peter King and Art Themen, a late replacement for the then recently departed Martin Drew.

Even more memorable was the time (it was 1998 if memory serves) that Keith Tippett’s Tapestry Orchestra rolled into the tiny Shropshire town of Bishop’s Castle and played a gig in the backroom of the Three Tuns pub. It was a Friday night, Keith and the band had played in Manchester the night before and were en route to a prestigious appearance at Bath Festival. They all stayed at Tony’s Shropshire abode and Tony, who was the band’s drummer, suggested a gig at his local pub. Twenty odd musicians and sixty lucky fans squeezed into the Tuns function room for an evening of unforgettably brilliant music. It was a great privilege to see some of the legends of British jazz, among them the late Elton Dean, at such close quarters.

So thanks Tony for the music and the memories.
All at the Jazzmann send their condolences to your family and friends.
 


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