The great drummer Tony Levin died yesterday (February 3rd).
My impression was that Tony was one of the first drummers in the UK to have understood and developed Elvin’s thing if not the first). While these days we can access transcriptions and videos effortlessly, it is easy to ignore the pioneering work of the British jazz musicians in the 1960s and 70s, who internalised the very complex music from the USA at the time. It was certainly harder then. But Tony was also an incredible improvisor and creative musician. Typically of the British scene, I can recall some folk saying that he was too loud, but it is the usual issue of some British horn players not “getting the drum thing”. The truth of the matter is that he was active and dynamic, making things happen. Click here…
Tony was generous, kind and I wish that I could have played with him when I was considerably more experienced. In my formative years, he provided me with the opportunity to play with a host of great British jazz musicians (Ronnie Ross, Art Themen, Pete King etc) at his gig at the Barton Arms in Birmingham (in 1985 I think). There was also a thrilling night with Red Rodney.
Tony Levin was musician to whom I owe much.