Stan Levey

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Stan Levey
Birth nameAdolph Stanley Levey
Born(1926-04-05)April 5, 1926
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States
DiedApril 19, 2005(2005-04-19) (aged 79)
Van Nuys, California
United States
GenresJazz, bebop
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1942–1973
LabelsBethlehem, Mode, Liberty Records

Adolph Stanley Levey known professionally as Stan Levey (April 5, 1926 – April 19, 2005) was an American jazz drummer.[1] He was known for working with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the early development of bebop during the 1940s, and in the next decade had stint with bandleader Stan Kenton. Levey retired from music in the 1970s to work as a photographer.


He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States,[1] Levey is considered one of the earliest bebop drummers, and one of the very few white drummers involved in the formative years of bebop. He played in Philadelphia with Dizzy Gillespie's group in 1942, at the age of 16.[2] Soon after, he went to New York City, where he and Gillespie worked on 52nd Street with Charlie Parker and Oscar Pettiford.[1]

After his tenure with the Stan Kenton Orchestra he moved to the West Coast in 1954, joining Howard Rumsey, Don Joham and the Lighthouse All-Stars, and was a major influence in West Coast jazz.[2] Though "cool" jazz was common on the West Coast, Levey's crisp, melodic style continued to have more in common with bop than cool, and he inspired every group he ever played in. A right-handed person, Levey played the drums, as if left-handed. Levey has played on thousands of recordings, including those with musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole,[2] and with bands such as that of Quincy Jones, and Skitch Henderson and The Tonight Show Band.

Levey retired from the music business in 1973 to become a professional photographer.[1] He died at age 79, two months after surgery for cancer of the jaw, in Van Nuys, California.[3] He was buried at the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.


With Chet Baker and Art Pepper

  • The Route (Pacific Jazz, 1956)

With Buddy Bregman

With Conte Candoli

With Victor Feldman

With Stan Getz

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Jimmy Giuffre

With Stan Kenton

With Lee Konitz

With Oscar Peterson

With Warne Marsh

With Red Mitchell

  • West Coast Rhythm (Affinity, recorded 1954–1955, released 1982)

With Shorty Rogers

With Sonny Stitt


  1. ^ a b c d McLellan, Dennis (22 April 2005). "Stan Levey, 79; Drummer Influenced 'Cool School' of Modern Jazz". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 256. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  3. ^ Keepnews, Peter (15 May 2005). "Stan Levey, Bebop Drummer, Dies at 79". The New York Times.

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