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Lushlife

The virtual home of John Levy

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Dan Oullette

One of the good guys in jazz who sincerely cared for the artists he worked with. A great loss.

Dan Forte

…as the Blue Note Jazz Club’s PR director and got to know John quite well when we booked Nancy at the club twice/year. A kind, gentle man with a penchant for his stylish footwear, we always looked forward to his rare, east coast visits.

John will never be forgotten. He nurtured so many of the greatest jazz musicians; three happen to be my all-time favorites: Joe Williams, Cannon and my idol, Wes Montgomery.

Knowing how much I adored Wes, John even gave me an exceedingly-rare autograph of him he found on an old contract from his personal files that Wes had forgotten to take with him, many years ago. It now is framed with an original image of Wes taken by my favorite photographer, Chuck Stewart along with Wes’s very first Riverside
album cover and is one of my most cherished possessions.

John happened to pass on my father’s birthday so it’s one more reason why I’ll never forget him.

Again, Dev, my deepest condolences to you and family. Please take comfort in knowing he lived a very long and fulfilling life and leaves behind an incredible woman as his loving wife as well as his keeper of his amazing legacy.

Dan Forte

Larry Mantle, host of Airtalk on So Cal Public Radio

I’ve been thinking about you since reading of John’s passing, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

Here’s the link to the online interview with John in 2003.
Unfortunately, the segment isn’t broken out separately, so you have to
scroll along the player to find the interview.

Best,
Larry

AirTalk with Larry Mantle
89.3 KPCC — 89.1 KUOR — 90.3 KVLA

Wallace Roney

“GOD Bless you for taking care of Mr. John Levy and blessed your union together. He is a great man, and I know his spirit is being blessed. May GOD console you and continue your blessing.”

Bill Withers


John Levy carried himself with too much class and dignity to be called by a nickname so I will only offer a respectful description of him as I always saw him. “Gentleman John,” we owe you for being all you were in life and will continue to be in our memories. How generous of The Good Lord to let us have you to shepherd so many of us for so long. R.I.P. Proud to have known you.

unsigned

It’s been years since a couple of lovely evenings with Devra and John in Silverlake, but I well remember the warmth and the wonderful music.

My maiden name is Levy. I remember John’s extremely gentle explanation of how he came to have that name, as I stood horrified and appalled. I’m grateful to have been relieved of my ignorance by such an exceptional man.

I send Devra and all John’s family my deepest condolences.

Monk Rowe, Hamilton College

I think every musician in need of a manager would like to find one that was a musician first. In my interview with John for the Hamilton College Jazz Archive in May of 1995 he spoke about negotiating with Columbia Artists for an upcoming major tour with Joe Williams and Nancy Wilson. The subject was what the sidemen would get. John replied to Columbia’s offer with, “oh,na, na, na…they have to get more than that. And they have to get certain conditions and certain things for them. So it’s always been like that-because I still feel like a musician.”

Monk Rowe
The Joe Williams Director of the Hamilton College Jazz Archive

Celebration Index

Messages are posted in reverse chronological order of date received, but here at the top is an alphabetical list with direct links:

John Altman
Dennis Armstead
George Avakian
H.B. Barnum
Valerie Bishop
Carmen Bradford
Wayne S. Brown, NEA
Kenny Burrell
Artie Butler
Felix Contreras
Bill Crow
JaRon Eames
Dan Forte
Cecilia Ann Foster (and Frank in spirit)
Ed Foster
A Scott Galloway
Benny Golson
Herbie Hancock
John Hasse
Bobby Jackson
Willard Jackson
Ahmad Jamal
Willard Jenkins
Bob Jones
Marty Klein (William Morris Agency)
Felicia Knight
Howard Mandel
Larry Mantle
Harvey Mason
Bennie Maupin
Carolyn McClair
Dan Morgenstern
Marc Myers
Lewis Nash
Dan Oullette
Ken Peplowski
Ruth Price
Doug Ramsey
Phil Ranelin
Eric Reed
Emil Richards
Larry Ridley
Wallace Roney
Monk Rowe
Phil Schaap
La Quetta M. Shamblee
Norman Simmons
Aki Tanaka
Neil Tesser
Mary Ann Topper
Ryan Truesdell
unsigned
David T. Walker
Peter Washington
Scott Whitfield
Buster Williams
Faunee Williams
Mrs. Joe Williams
Bill Withers
Mike Wolff
Nicole Yarling

Ken Peplowski

Devra, My deepest condolences go out to you and yours

John was a beautiful guy, and I feel honored to have known him.

Ken Peplowski

Aki Tanaka

Words cannot express enough how sad and shocked I was to hear John had
passed away. Please accept my sincere condolence.

I truly regret that we could not cerebrate our birthday together on April 11th.

From a friend in Japan

Aki Tanaka

George Avakian

Another true friend lost, after a long illness – John Levy, who was a superb bass player, a fine artist manager, and all-around good guy.

Amen.

Mike Wolff

I’m so sorry to hear about John’s passing. He was such a great guy, and so important to me in my life and career. From my first big gig with Cal Tjader, through Cannon, and Nancy Wilson, and Arsenio.
He was really the best manager in the jazz world, and a seriously classy guy. I was thrilled to be mentioned in his book.

Bobby Jackson

Devra, I am deeply saddened by the loss of your fabulous husband.
May he rest in peace and may you find solace in the memories and comfort in the prayers and thoughts of all the people who love you including me…….

Scott Whitfield

Devra, please accept our deepest condolences. What an amazing legacy
and what a great man. Love, Ginger & Scott

Kenny Burrell

Kenny and I are deeply saddened to learn of John Levy’s passing.
Our condolences, as well as our thoughts and prayers, to Devra Hall Levy, John’s family, friends, and colleagues. He will be greatly missed.

Katherine & Kenny

Carmen Bradford

Another great one gone. Rest in Peace John Levy.
What a “Star Maker” he was!
Love you Devra Hall Levy.

Dan Morgenstern

Dear Devra,

My heartfelt condolences. It was a privilege to have known John. He was a great musician, a genius manager, a master storyteller,and above all, a wonderful man.

Thanks to you for making his golden years truly that.

Love,
Dan

Neil Tesser

I’m so very sorry to hear the news. Please know that you have the
profound sympathy and condolence of myself and, I imagine, everyone else who ever had the great fortune to know John.

Sincerely,

NEIL TESSER
Chicago Jazz Music Examiner

John Altman

I was delighted and honoured to spend some time with John on several Jazz Cruises – sadly, in my book, not long enough, but ample time to realize what a treasure he was, a fact borne out by his wonderful autobiography which Quincy Jones ‘hipped’ me to. I wish Devra all the best and his family ‘a long life’, and my sincerest condolences – what a wonderful man and what a wonderful life well lived.

John Altman

Faunee Williams

Devra – Thank you for sharing John with us and for encouraging him to
record his life and experiences in Men Women and Girl Singers. He remains present in our hearts…and so do you.

Eric Reed

No words other than,
“Thank you, Mr. Levy!”
—————————-
Nov. 7, 2011
Mr. & Mrs. Levy:
Even in one as long as Mr. John Levy’s, life does move quickly, does it not? Continuously, I remind myself, “Don’t put off for tomorrow…” 
Well, I’m expressing now the honor and privilege it is for me to be able to interact a bit with an individual so dignified, knowledgeable and astute as you, Mr. Levy! Beyond the shadow of a doubt, you have forged a path in the music world that is wide and vast; blessed are we who have been allowed to travel along the way you paved. No you, no me.
With God’s Love,
Eric Reed

Howard Mandel, Pres. Jazz Journalists Assn.

I’m sorry to hear about John’s death. He had such a wonderfully long and productive life — I am sure the Celebration section of the site is brimming over with good thoughts of John. Please accept the condolences of the entire JJA. Our organization and circles have held him in high esteem.

Ed Foster & Mrs. Joe Williams

I am so sorry to hear about John’s passing. He was a very talented, warm, considerate and wonderful man. My several meetings with him were always delightful. He was a great friend to all of his clients and always served their best interests, He will be missed by all that new him. Both Jillian Williams and I send you our deep felt condolences.

Best Love,
Ed Foster and Jillian Williams

A Scott Galloway

Devra, The Man was a Prince. SO honored to have met and
interviewed him. He will always be remembered with the highest respect. My deepest condolences to you.

Felicia Knight

Dear Devra,

Wayne Brown just sent me the news of John’s death. I’m so sorry to hear it. I feel so lucky to have met him. And I have to believe he felt so lucky to have had you in his life for so long as such a solid force of love and support.

I’m very sorry for your loss, for the loss to the jazz community, and to the world.

Lushlife is an appropriate descriptor for his life.

All the best,
Felicia Knight (former Director of Communications at the National Endowment for the Arts.)

Larry Ridley

John was indeed a dear friend,mentor, brother,and fellow bassist. For many, many years going back to the early 1960’s, John was a guru and source of inspiration to me. I thank God for enabling me to have John as a major force in my Life!!! My fond regards to his wife Devra who I have known for many years. We both are blessed to have John in our lives!

Mary Ann Topper

My sincere condolences to you, Devra. John was truly the “Dean” of
personal managers, and an inspiration to me for all the years I was fortunate enough to have known him. He represented the Best…and he was the Best! I will miss him.

Mary Ann Topper, The Jazz Tree

Nicole Yarling


I’m so glad that you were together and that from what I read he went in peace and in your arms. You were good for each other. Although we haven’t been in touch you guys were never far from my heart. I love you both and I truly am grateful for all that you’ve done.

Nicky

John Hasse, Smithsonian Institute

Dear Devra,

I am so sorry to learn of John’s passing. It has got to be a terrible, terrible loss.

Every time I saw John–whether at IAJE, the NEA Jazz Masters ceremony, or at your house–it became a sparkling moment in my memory. What a life! What a man! I feel privileged to have known him.

My heart goes out to you, Devra. Please accept a big hug across the miles. And please take good care of you.

John

Lewis Nash

Dearest Devra – PLEASE accept my most sincere condolences on the passing of a great musician, man, advocate and friend of many, Mr. John Levy. I’m so happy to have had the privilege of knowing him.
Peace and blessings to you always.
Lewis

Carolyn McClair

Oh Devra, I am so sorry to hear this. What a beautiful man … a
true gentleman with the warmest heart … a gentle giant who touched the music world with grace, class and wisdom. I am proud and pleased to have known him. God bless you and all who knew and loved him!”

Dennis Armstead

John Levy has always been in my life for the long time that I have been in the music business. We never really worked together but we had similar interests and sometimes bumped heads, which is normal in this industry. But love and friendship always prevailed, which I had for this man and believe was mutual. On the musical trail at conventions, live performances and just the odd passing on the road, I will always remember his smile and his wisdom. Some people that he managed and guided became personal friends – Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley and many others. Even though some of these luminaries have disappeared, their music and their hearts linger. I’m sure that when I put on one of their recordings I will smile to know that John Levy touched that music.

Dennis & Ingrid

Valerie Bishop

I have an abundance of gratitude to have known this extraordinary man for over 40 years, as well as to have shared the most amazing, totally memorable musical experiences with him.

Valerie and John, pool-side circa 1973

JaRon Eames

I first met Mr.levy in the early 1970’s when I moved to New York from Louisiana. It was at a Nancy Wilson concert. He became one of my Hero’s. I’m so grateful I spent what ever little time I did with him while he was here. When he sat for an interview with me (The JaRon Eames Show) after receiving the NEA award , it was and will always be one of the best moments in my career. I deeply respected Mr Levy, and he will be missed. My sympathy goes out to Mrs. Levy and family.

Ryan Truesdell

I just heard about John. I’m so very sorry to hear about his passing. I hope you are finding comfort in all the great things he’s done throughout his nearly 100 years, and the incredible impact he’s made to music history.
It truly is amazing. Though I didn’t know John personally (I believe we only met once), my life has been forever changed by all the amazing talent that he has cultivated thought his life. It’s hard to think of all the musicians that John had under his wing, and I know that without his guidance they would not have become the musicians they are today, ultimately influencing the younger generation like myself. Thank you, John!!

Felix Contreras, NPR

The world has lost a true giant. Not just in jazz but in civil rights and American music in general.

Willard Jackson

Dear John,

As we approach the centennial anniversary of your birth, In addition to wishing you a Happy 100th Birthday, I want also to say Thanks. For more than half of your life, I have been a devoted fan who has assiduously followed your career from the first time I heard you inspire the George Shearing Quintet with your astounding virtuosity. I have followed your career from the founding of Levy Enterprises which catapulted you to the apex of ALL Personal Managers…why? Because you had intestinal fortitude to defy the odds and vault over the numberless obstacles thrown in your path and become the FIRST African American to achieve such a lofty perch in the Music enterprises. Few Blacks know of your legendary career made even more illustrious by the number of prominent Black Artists whose careers are the direct product of your extensive expertise, innate intuition and dynamic drive. Your numerous Awards, Honors and Professional Recognition have found dormancy in the passage of time and the recesses of your stoic Modesty. I have not forgotten your contributions to America’s contribution to the World’s cultural and artistic anthropology. In addition to the many 78 RPMs of “September in the Rain”, I have been fortunate to be able follow your many of accomplishments through a mutual friend of ours who is just as enthralled by your continuing legacy as I, but who also enjoys a personal love and relationship with you. His name is: Washington Rucker. Our friendship extends back to just after the “George Shearing Quintet” era. So I thank you and him for all of the joy that has fallen on my life through the music that I love. I thank you for those who might not know how deserving you are of the iconic position you hold in our collective lives.

May God Bless you and assure us that you will enjoy this Birthday in a manner befitting the reality of your Royalty.

Willard Jackson

Benny Golson

John Levy, My Dear Friend,

Your iconicity has long since been established in the lives and deepest grotto of hearts of those having come to know the length and breadth of your wondrous, talented and honest personality. You have been ineluctably panegyrized as one who would lovingly and willingly inspire myriads to lay their very lives at your feet. The knowledge of who and what you’ve been during your productive lifetime will not only live past your time, but into endless tomorrows. Would that our world had been filled with an abundance of  JOHN LEVYS. In retrospect, the chronology and recollection of ONE HUNDRED YEARS is not nearly enough.  

One of the distinct privileges and delightful pleasures in my lifetime has been having you enter my life as a dear, eternal friend. Thankfully, the exquisite ‘taste’ of this will last forever. The bright light of your presence has lit up the entire expanse of my ongoing life con brio.

Benny Golson

Herbie Hancock

Hi John,

You’re still the youngest man on the scene. How wonderful to be staring a full century in the face. By the way, your birthday is the day before mine, April 12th. I’ll be 72 on my next one.

I want to thank you for your lifelong support and appreciation of culture, especially jazz. Yes, I also know you as a bass player on several landmark recordings before you got a desk job. I’ve been a constant admirer of your elegance and style. Your behavior as a compassionate human being is a model for us all. You’re also continually a man of action and justice. Your recent email supporting Pres. Obama’s achievements and castigating Cornell West and others who are very short sighted in their arrogant, monolithic, judgmental attacks on the President. I agree with you totally and appreciate your candor in pointing out their erred viewpoint.

You have accomplished so much over the years and in such a quiet way. Your artists have maintain their integrity and gone on to make some of the finest music in the world. Nancy Wilson is everybody’s favorite and, of course, mine as well. Ramsey Lewis, Ahmad Jamal, Dakota Staton, George Shearing, to name a few, prove your greatness through their considerable achievements in music. They are all cornerstones in the development of great artistry and owe much to your managerial talent and love for the music. George Shearing was my very first influence. It was his music, which often included you, that first attracted my attention in jazz. My first pieces that i tried to copy were from his recordings of I’ll Remember April, Lullaby Of Birdland, East Of The Sun, and many others. that was my starting point at the age of 14 in 1954 in Chicago while at Hyde Park High School. I was able to tell this story to George many years ago and he was pleasantly surprised, I’m happy to say. John, you and I are connected in many ways. Hope to see you soon.

John, you’re my hero and will be forever.

Take care,
Herbie

Marc Myers

There is nothing warmer and more endearing than John’s laugh. He’s one of the few legends I’ve interviewed who actually can’t wait to laugh—provided there’s a reason to do so. He seems to love laughing the way a foodie loves a roadside sandwich or a car person loves a vintage engine. There’s gusto, passion and intelligence behind John’s laugh, like someone who intimately understands how humor and funny bones work. When you’ve successfully said something witty, there’s always this pause on John’s end as he absorbs it, rolls it around in his mind and thinks about it from every angle—as though inspecting its merit and value. This period of judgment lasts just a few seconds, but it always seems much longer. Then, if you’ve been successful, there’s a light laugh from John, as though a special part of his personality has awakened and begun to taken notice—a part that knows a thing or two about people and enjoys life. Then as you start to laugh with him, John’s whole being gives way and joins in as his soul and spirit become engaged. When he laughs fully with you, it sounds like a audience is laughing. It’s a rolling laugh, with highs, lows and middles. In your mind, it’s the way a spring willow shimmers in a May breeze. And as his laugh winds down, you notice there are little extra laugh surges as John appears to appreciate other aspects of what you’ve just said. Of course, a laugh like that encourages you to find other funny things to say, just to hear it all again. And that’s when you realize that in addition to being a great bassist, a great manager and a great husband, John also is exceptionally human, which is what I suspect what everyone has loved about John for decades. I once asked John what the secret of longevity was. On reflection, I now think I have my answer. Here’s to that great big laugh—and how it makes others feel. I love you John.

Marc Myers
Jazzwax

La Quetta M. Shamblee

Greetings Devra,
Please express my deepest gratitude to John (and to you) for being SO supportive and encouraging when we first met about six years ago.  It was an honor to meet someone with such incredible history and after I purchased his book and read it, I was even more inspired to continue with my productions.
Please tell him HAPPY BIRTHDAY! from me.
La Quetta M. Shamblee

Phil Schaap

ALL HAIL JOHN LEVY

The business success and great musicianship of John Levy has been impressing me since Papa Jo Jones started telling me about him over a half-century ago. John Levy was Jo’s idea of total success. I don’t have too much more to impart as others can do better.

I will add that I had John’s grand-daughter in my Jazz course and I was impressed by her and her husband and they were impressed that the teacher knew all about John Levy.

I’m also honored that John Levy has told me about his early days. Do people know that he was at Charlie Parker’s 1st record date (11/26/1945)?

Now that I’m over 60, this may seem silly to state but as John Levy will soon turn 100, I guess it’s OK:
John Levy is so gracious and reasonable in hearing young people have their say. He has great warmth and patience.

Finally: I used to work for Eubie Blake. After he died – and knowing that Eubie reached 100 – I used to say “Who’s Going To be The Next Eubie Blake?” I’m so glad it turned out to be John Levy.

Happy Birthday from Phil Schaap

Norman Simmons

SARNEY NORMAN SIMMONS – MY HISTORY WITH JOHN LEVY

Most of us are not consciously aware of our mission in life. To me there is only one overall plan that has an unlimited number of options and in the end all comes together in the one.

What’s in a name and how do they all connect? John Levy? George Shearing, Norman Simmons. How did an African descendant get a name like Levy or Simmons? Simmons is an English name and Levy is a Jewish name.

God chose to deliver his special message of salvation to the world, by way of the Jews, who were then at the lowest level of humanity.

I see John levy’s mission to elevate the value of ‘Black Artists’ who had set the parameters of Jazz Performance but existed and functioned at the bottom level of artistic and financial respect and  recognition. John Levy in-turn has made the effort to accomplish the due recognition for almost everyone of his current talented individual Black Artists.

There were many doors and various levels depending on Artistic ability and the vision and cooperative willingness of the artists who John offered to represent. They have all managed to arrive on a plateau higher than where he started with them.

John Levy’s mission was not per se, about ‘Money’… Money was variable based on the value of the artists, who he represented. He represented Black Artists whose talents deserved a higher level of respect and remuneration was the recognition of that respect. Therefore; his business negotiations were successful because they were deserveably fair for all parties.

John Levy was probably the first of all established Personal Managers in the category of jazz Performance. There were Booking Agents who sat behind their desks and managed, by telephone, the artist attached to their agencies. I feel sure that the name Levy intrigued the contacts that John negotiated with; however, John Levy introduced himself personally to his clients, leaving no doubts of who he was and at the same time acquiring their respect and trust.

So, why does an Englishman become the pivotal point of establishing the John Levy Enterprises? Why does Saul, who became Paul, become the disciple separate from the 12 to forward the message of Christ to the Gentiles?
Coming from England, Pianist, George Shearing wanted a certain feel of rhythm and John Levy was his choice on the Bass. He discovered that he had more than just an ordinary bass player. John managed the George Shearing Quintet and George Shearing in turn broke the color barrier to help establish the John Levy Management Offices in New York City. That is a history not to ignored or minimized.

John Levy’s Chicago roots were attached to all the Chicago’s Black Entrepreneurs; particularly DJ Daddy-O Daily and of course singer Joe Williams. John, Joe and Daddy-O were among the Chicago Elegant Alumni. 
Daddy-O Daily communed with, promoted and energized many of the talents in Chicago. He offered my Trio of, Victor Sproles and Vernel Founier, then anchored at The Bee Hive Jazz Club the ‘Gentlemen Of Jazz’ corporate format that eventually became the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

Victor, Vernel and myself, we felt that our careers were individual and did not value being incorporated.  Daddy-O Dailey groomed The Ramsey Lewis Trio locally and then presented them to his friend John Levy for wider recognition. From there a magnificent history was inaugurated; particularly when the group was established under one name; ‘The Ramsey Lewis Trio’.

Ahmad Jamal, as Fritz Jones, had migrated from Pittsburgh to become a sensation locally in Chicago with his trio ‘The 3 Sounds’. John Levy managed them into national fame, again under one name…The Ahmed Jamal Trio.
I have no idea how John Levy became aware of the Norman Simmons Trio? Daddy-O Daily, maybe? Daddy-O Daily was always one of my main promoters. However, when Dakota Staton (Aliah Rabiah Dawud), who was signed to the John Levy Artist stable came to Chicago with the intention of hiring a Chicago pianist; Norman Simmons was recommended to her via her Muslim brother Ahmed Jamal. I was flattered to know that Ahmed Jamal knew who I was, because, at that time, I didn’t know who I was.

John Levy saw a potential in promoting The Norman Simmons Trio to a higher plateau via the coattail of Dakota Staton’s fame. But Dakota Staton’s husband had other ideas more related to his own personal ambitions that were linked to Dakota’s fame.

Dakota Staton’s husband, also a converted Muslim had ambitions that made it necessary for John Levy to personally protect me, I was only a piano player in her group and why did he John Levy take such a selected personal interest in me? John saw the aggressive ambitions of Dakota’s husband and made the determination that I particularly would not be victimized.

It was John Levy who hired me (Twice) to play for Joe Williams. I failed the first test. On the second trial…..Joe looked at me on stage and said “You’ve improved”. Paul West was the musical director at that engagement. Ellis Larkins and taken a steady job in NYC. Joe had a variable stable of accompanists all over the country and John convinced him to get a regular accompanist who would travel with him. Joe still could not actually bring himself to directly hire me, as recommended. He told me that John Levy would send me his itinerary and That I should choose what I wanted to do.

Joe never claimed his band on stage; he always identified us as individual instrumental celebrities  who visited with him in their spare times. Joe did not want to assume the full responsibility of anyone’s livelihood.

Norman Simmons was not destined for the fame of Ramsey Lewis, Ahmed Jamal or Dakota Staton. Nevertheless, the same connection with John Levy to Norman Simmons sustains and remains strong unto this day when we are both looking at the sunset. I cannot or find no need to explain it; but, knowing John Levy has been an inspiration that can no way be calculated. It is still very encouraging for me to look in the mirror and try to imagine myself as John Levy sees me. I am still, now just a well seasoned piano accompanist, but, always in the eyes of others, Wow! Certainly a level of success attached to Mr. John Levy.

Ahmad Jamal

Dear John and Devra:

Talk and think about you often with memories of your great career as one of the foremost “supportive bassists” which is hard to come by these days.You and Stuff Smith were truly inspiring and the entire camaraderie that graced 52nd., Street. Those were history making days that we cannot forget!!!

Additionally, we made a lot of history together after George persuaded you to manage him, and following that the great diva, Dakota and I joined the office.

Memories of Ray Bryant sitting in the office at the piano with George, learning Ray’s Cubano Chant etc.
The last time we met, that I can recall, was at Catalina’s and I took you back and introduced you to Idris Muhammad and told him your age at that time and he was so amazed at your straight as a stick appearance!!
Then I proceeded to ask you what you had for dinner!! Your answer was “prime rib”, which left both Idris and I smiling!!!

WE Love You!!!!!!!
Ahmad Jamal@ 81 +

H.B. Barnum

November 9, 2011

Hello Mr. Levy,

I just got a reminder that you will be reaching that big century number in a few months.  So I want too be one of the first to wish you Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday at the same time. Sort of like a greeting medley.
Not many have played the song of life as well as you.  So I’m writing this arrangement where the changes are easy to read, and the melody is always on top. That way when you hear it you will recognize the love and respect that myself and so many others have for you.  

You’ll never realize how much influence you’ve had in my life. You showed me how to be cool and still be real. You carry yourself with such dignity and class, but never to high to touch people at all levels. We’ve only had brief conversations over the years, but I always took away something that has helped me throughout my career.  

I know that a lot of people will be around to celebrate with you in April.  Maybe we can share a cup of love between now and then.  I will check with the Mrs. and see if we can arrange something.
And one more thing.  I know you respect your elders.  I’ve got two people in my choir that you’ll have to look up to.  Sadie Nettlesbey 102 sings soprano, and My Auntie Ann White 101 alto, and still goes to Bingo twice a week.  

Lots of love and I’ll be looking forward to seeing you soon.
H.B.

Peter Washington


Devra and John-

Best wishes to you both!

John, you are a hero of mine and it is ever a pleasure to be in your company.

Your grace and dignity inspire me.

Kind Regards,
Peter Washington

Harvey Mason


Dear Devra,

Please tell John I reached out to him. I’m presently in Budapest, will call when I’m stateside.

I’m pulling for him to reach 100, what a milestone..

Sincerely all my best,
Harvey Mason

Marty Klein (William Morris Agency)

John Levy:

What a great treasure. We were both really good friends as well as business associates.  Our industry is missing big time people like John Levy. I worked closely with him for many years during his management of Nancy Wilson and Roberta Flack. I think he could have lived without the latter client. She was very difficult on John as he was accustomed to making management decisions and she would usually second guess him and torment him regarding his judgement. She was very needy, cried a lot and demanded so much more than than John could reasonably provide.

Whenever John came to NY we always had lunch at the Warwick Hotel where he always ate liver. He and I were forever fighting the cigarette battle. John loved his Pall Malls. During our luncheons he told many stories but had so much difficulty remembering the names of the people he talked about. I helped out many times but not always. I was not to great in this area either. If a third party ever witnessed our lunches and over heard our stories that were constantly interrupted by “what was his/her name”, they might think that we were both ready for the old age home. Much too old and over the hill for this business. They would have been shocked at all that John and I accomplished and all the trends that we set. Most are still in practice today. He respected my judgement and wasn’t embarrassed to admit it.

There is no way to properly summarize the great John Levy but he is the best manager (who can’t remember names) that I ever worked with in my nearly 50 years in this business. It is my honor and privilege to be a part of his professional life.

Marty Klein

Bob Jones

To John and Devra !
A little story for you

Many years ago while working for George Wein, I was chosen to lead the Adderleys around Europe when they were enjoying a great deal of success with a couple of hit tunes on the Billboard Charts. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” along with I think one called “Sticks” had taken them to almost every Jazz Festival the previous summer and we were having great crowds as we pushed our way through Western Europe.

The band of course had Cannon, Nat along with Roy McCurdy on drums, Victor Gaskin,bass and Joe Zawinul on keyboards. It was a great band and we very well received at every place we played. The day before we were to play Paris – not sure of the place – I was notified by the hotel that I had a “telex” from John. Upon reading the message I was informed that joining us in Paris would be the wives of Nat and Cannon and as they would arrive earlier then we were scheduled would I arrange to have them met at Orly. Not a problem I answered …. So they arrived, the band arrived, and I was asked to meet them ASAP – rushing to the hotel I was then asked to take all the tickets as quickly as possible and change all our lovely mid day departures to flights that would get the wives to the cities early enough to get some serious shopping done – and were headed to Geneva the next day! They already had their hearts set on this grand shopping adventure.

A quick taxi took me to the Air India office on Rue Auber — just across from American Express – a bit exhausted from the hectic schedule I sat down in front of one of the agents explained my problem and told her that I needed these tickets by 5 pm . It was then about 1:30 – she mentioned that my coat was torn –(what else Zawinul’s piano of course) and suggested a place to get a new one – sounded like a good idea –finished doing that , came back and promptly fell asleep on the counter— The agent woke me up to tell me my tickets were finished and now she and her friends had figured out that I might be able to get them in the theatre ( it was SRO)–I was happy to take care of them – after all they not only were beautiful but got the tickets done , we all had a great night – So the wives were happy, the band a little grumpy having to get up early — and 14 months later I married the most beautiful agent from Air India !

Thanks ladies, thank you John, that telex was best one I ever got !

Robert Jones and Marguerite – former agent at Air India, Paris
Oh yes she was a Cannonball fan !

Willard Jenkins

My heartiest greetings to John in honor of his achieving this milestone of a century on this planet!  John, you’ve been a constant source of inspiration to those of us who work with and on behalf of jazz musicians.  Your example of a lifetime of excellence serves as a beacon for so many of us.    You’ve consistently displayed a true generosity of spirit that is both peerless and timeless and this jazz life is a much better place for your having been a part of it throughout such a rich life.  It has been my pleasure to be in your presence on a few occasions and I’ve always come away feeling that I was in the presence of a real mentor in this business.  I’ll never forget witnessing the sincere love and adoration Nancy Wilson radiated for you from the stage at the Monterey Jazz Festival as part of a session a few years ago that you were unable to participate in.  GIven Nancy’s abundant love you were certainly “in the house” nonetheless. 

Many thanks to you John and all you’ve meant to those of us who have come along in your wake.  Here’s wishing you a splendid 100th and as many more into the future as the Creator will allow.

Peace,
wvj

Ruth Price

Bennie Maupin

Dear John and Devra,
My friendship with the both of you is one that I absolutely hold dear. A special thanks to you John for being a man of great courage and the highest integrity. You’re heartfelt influence here in Altadena and the music world continues to make a positive statement. Through the years we’ve met and celebrated birthdays, holidays and enjoyed nameless musical events that you’ve had a hand in creating. Hang in there and see you soon.
Many thanks for all that you’ve done, are doing and will do in the future.
With respect and appreciation,
Bennie Maupin

Cecilia Ann Foster (and Frank in spirit)


John, what a warrior you continue to be on so many fronts … husband, musician, manager, and overall beautiful person.  I, too, have stopped traveling so our paths probably won’t cross again on this plane, but tho’ briefly and on really special occasions, I enjoyed your company and am so glad to have known you.  I think you’ll make it to 100…and beyond.  God has kept people like you and Clark Terry around as an inspiration to the rest of us and also to just brag to the world about His wondrous creations.  Wish I had the opportunity to hear some of your stories…I can only imagine that there were some loo-loos (smile)

Continue to be gentle, John, and know how much you are loved by many.

Doug Ramsey

Dear John and Devra, 

When I was researching the Paul Desmond biography and invaded your house for a long evening, I met John for the first time. After we had talked at length, you two took me to an elegant restaurant. I remember a long, leisurely meal that was accompanied by stories, laughter and comfortable, amused, silences. John, the warmth of that occasion, the time at Monterey when all of us and Gerald Wilson sat together in the Hunt Club, hanging out together at the NEA Jazz Masters awards in New York in 2006, you made me feel that we had been friends forever. That’s how I feel about you to this day. I always will. What a pleasure and a privilege it is to know you. 

All the best, 
Doug Ramsey

Wayne S. Brown, National Endowment for the Arts

November 6, 2011

Dear John and Devra,

A short note to say hello and offer my good wishes.  Here in Washington, the political climate continues to evolve, yet there are those of us who remain optimistic that there will again be good days ahead.

Since my visit with the two of you a year ago, conversations about the future of the NEA Jazz Masters have given many of us a reason to pause. Well, I wish to inform you that just this week I received the green light to proceed with plans to identify the 2013 class of NEA Jazz Masters.  Accordingly, a panel will be assembled in order for the Arts Endowment to continue with
America’s celebration of its unique musical message – jazz!
John, would you like to help select the next group?

As we look toward the 30th Anniversary of the NEA Jazz Masters and the celebration of John’s 100th, it is my hope that we can soon connect in person.  I recall our visit last year when I asked that you seriously consider coming to New York so that many of your friends could offer a personal salute to John.  Alas, should that not be feasible, I hope to make a visit shortly after the Awards Ceremony.

Warm regards to you both,
Wayne
Wayne S. Brown
Director of Music and Opera
National Endowment for the Arts

Phil Ranelin

Thanks John for being such a huge inspiration to so many of us and sharing your knowledge with those who are willing to listen. All of us in the music world are pulling for you to open up that congratulation letter from the President!
Sincerely,
Phil Ranelin

David T. Walker

Hello Devra & John Levy,
John I have always appreciated and enjoyed Your Generosity Of Spirit!
We met many years ago because of Cannonball Adderly, Nancy Wilson, Sisters Love, Lou Rawls and others, I am Grateful for Your Presence on this Planet!
There has been an abundance of Love directed at You that includes me of course. I always wished and wanted to be one of Your Artists!
You were always very, very Kind to me and perhaps you don`t know how uplifting and inspiring that has been for me since our first meeting and working with you, being around the Artists You Represented so Elegantly since the mid 1960`s 🙂 Is and will continue to Be a Blessing in my humble life …. Thank You Sincerely!
Happy 100th Birthday, 
David T. Walker

Emil Richards

Dear Devra,
I met John when I played Vibes with George Shearing in the 50’s. I loved his Bass playing on all those early Shearing records. Please give him my warm regards. He was always kind to me, and an inspiration as a musician and as a person.
I got his book some years back when it first came out, and we met after a long time. I asked him to manage my quartet and Big band but he was only working with Nancy Wilson at the time.
Please let him know he is in my thoughts and prayers often.
John, I am sending you Good Vibes.
Always,
Emil Richards

Bass Players


Hi, Devra and John,

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to celebrate with you.
John, I’ve admired your work for many years, and am delighted to hear that you are still hanging in there.  I send you my compliments and best wishes.

Bill Crow


Dear John:

I can’t think of anyone who is a greater example than you on how to live a life of value creation; integrity; trustworthiness; honesty; compassion; love, and truth.

You’ve stood as a constant reminder to me of these great human attributes as I’ve strived to navigate through the vicissitudes of my own life.

You remain a true giant in my eyes.

May you live as long as you want to live as I am inspired by every moment of your being. Thank you, John, for everything you give us.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my fellow Aries.

Love,
Buster Williams


Hi John,
 
Just a few words to let you know how much I appreciate our acquaintance and respect for each other through the years.
 
You have been a great role model to me and have opened doors for many of my friends who also have held you in high esteem like Joe Williams, Cannonball Adderley and Wes Montgomery.
 
Sincerely,
Larry Ridley

Artie Butler

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