Alan "Al" Levitt (November 11, 1932, New York City - November 28, 1994, Paris) was an American jazz drummer. Early in life Al showed an interest in music.In high school he used to play hooky with friends and visit Thelonius Monk's apt around the corner where they would beg him to play.Monk never did play for them and would only play for them his favorite jazz albums in exchange for pot or change! Al studied with Lennie Tristano for many years along with Lee Konitz. Al also studied occasionally with Max Roach.
In the early NY jazz scene, Al frequented all the popular jazz clubs and sat in with many of the greats including Charlie Parker and many others. One of his favorite stories was running into Charlie Parker on a frigid winter morning with Parker wearing nothing more than a Superman T-shirt and a blazer.Parker bummed $5 bucks off Al & that was the last time Al ever saw him.Parker died in 1955.
After moving to the Canary Islands,Spain, in 73 with Stella his common law wife and her 5 children,Robby,Billy,Teresa,Sean & Minou,Al played there with Canadian saxophonist,Loyd Thompson,Dutch pianist,Nikko Bunik & American trumpeter and jazz club owner,Don Jeter. Moving then to Madrid he played with many jazz artists like notable Spanish pianist Pedro Itturalde.
Moving to France in 75,Al once again touched base and set up shop to play with all his old pals from the U.S.In Paris he found his own group with many, famous today, talented jazz musicians like Alain Jean Marie who would go on to become one of the great jazz pianists in Europe. His group consisted of,Stella on vocals,Sean on guitar,Alain jean Marie on piano and Gus Nemeth on Bass among others.During this time he toured and played with Paul Bley.Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh.Jimmie Raney.Dexter Gordon.Harry "Sweets" Edison & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.JJ Johnson.Stan Getz.Chet Baker.Jimmy Gourley.Peter Ind.Martial Solal.Renne Urtreger.Pierre Michelot.Michelle Petrucciani.Clark Terry.Dorothy Donegan.Barney Willen & most anybody who's anybody during the 70s and 80s & 90s jazz scene.
Al was a contributing writer for Jazz Hot magazine in France & wrote many articles for them.
In the early 1950s Levitt played with
- Barbara Carroll (1950),
- Chuck Wayne (1950–51),
- Charles Mingus (1951),
- Lennie Tristano (1952),
- Stan Getz (1953),
- Paul Bley (1954–55),
- Lee Konitz (1954–56).
He moved to The Netherlands in 1956, playing there with Pia Beck. Thereafter he played in Paris with
- Sidney Bechet,
- Rene Urtreger,
- Allen Eager,
- Martial Solal,
- Guy Lafitte,
- Stephane Grappelli,
- Barney Wilen.
After returning to the United States in 1958, he played with
- Toshiko Akiyoshi (1958),
- Shirley Horn (1959),
- Scott LaFaro/Dick Haymes (1959–60),
- Ronnie Ball/Chris Connor (1960–61),
- Candido Camero (1962–63),
- Teddy Edwards (1964),
- Donna Lee (Levitt) (1959, 1960 and they were married, birthed Jolie Levitt),
- Stella Levitt (1964,
- Georgie Auld (1965–66), Jackie Paris/Ann Marie Moss (1967),
- Lionel Hampton 1967-68),
- Chris Connor and David Allyn (1970),
- Mingus again in 1972.
In 1968 he recorded for ESP-Disk along with his wife Stella, a great jazz vocalist in her own right, and his stepson Sean,one of the greatest jazz guitarists of his era.
In 1973 Levitt moved to the Canary Islands. He played with Pedro Itturalde in Spain and led his own group. Moving to Paris again in 1975, he played in Europe with
- Peter Ind,
- Martial Solal,
- Guy Lafitte,
- René Urtreger,
- Slide Hampton,
- Warne Marsh,
- Lee Konitz,
- Jimmy Raney,
- Chet Baker,
- Alain Jean-Marie (many times from 1978),
- Kai Winding and Kenny Drew (1979),
- Sonny Stitt (1981),
- James Moody (1981),
- Horace Parlan (1984, 1986–87),
- Steve Grossman (1985),
- Benny Carter (1985),
- Kenny Drew and Teddy Edwards (1986–87),
- Duke Jordan (early 1990s).
- Babs Gonzales
- Dorothy Donegan
- Zoot Sims
- Harry "Sweets" Edison
- Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
Levitts - We Are The Levitts - ESP-Disk 1095 (1969)
He also co-led a group with Nathalie Loriers.