Born in Philadelphia, Levey is considered one of the earliest bebop drummers, 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. Soon after he went to New York City, where he and Dizzy worked on 52nd Street with Charlie Parker and Oscar Pettiford.
After his tenure with the Stan Kenton Orchestra he moved to the West Coast in 1954, joining Howard Rumsey and the Lighthouse All-Stars, and was a major influence in West Coast jazz. 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 left-handed drummer, Levey has played on over thousands of recordings, including those with musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and with bands such as that of Quincy Jones, and Skitch Henderson and The Tonight Show Band.
|This section requires expansion. (December 2012)|
With Dizzy Gillespie
- For Musicians Only (Verve, 1956)
With Jimmy Giuffre
- The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet (Atlantic, 1956)
- Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre (Verve, 1959) with Herb Ellis
With Sonny Stitt
- Previously Unreleased Recordings (Verve, 1960 )
- McLellan, Dennis (22 April 2005). "Stan Levey, 79; Drummer Influenced 'Cool School' of Modern Jazz". Los Angeles Times.
- Keepnews, Peter (15 May 2005). "Stan Levey, Bebop Drummer, Dies at 79". The New York Times.