An American jazz drummer. 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 and accepted as one of bop's most important drummers, along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach.
He played in Philadelphia with Dizzy Gillespie's group in 1942, at the age of 16. Soon after he went to New York, 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.
Levey retired from the music business in 1973 to become a professional photographer. He died in Van Nuys, California, in 2005, at age 79.
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