Louis A. Levy, generally known as Lou Levy, was born on March 5, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois and started playing piano when he was twelve. His chief influences were Art Tatum and Bud Powell. A professional at age nineteen, he played with George Auld, Sarah Vaughan, Chubby Jackson, Boyd Raeburn and Woody Herman’s Second Herd during the late Forties. Still with Woody Herman by 1950, he moved on to play with Tommy Dorsey, Flip Phillips before leaving music for a few years.
Lou returned to music and gained a strong reputation as an accompanist to singers, working with Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, June Christy, tony Bennett, Anita O’Day and Pinky Winters. He would also go on to play with Shorty Rogers, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Coleman Hawkins, Bob Cooper, Bennie Wallace, Terry Gibbs, Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, Supersax, and most of the major West Coast players.
Over the course of his career he recorded as a leader for Nocturne, RCA, Jubilee, Philips, Interplay and Verve leaving behind a catalogue of fourteen albums as a leader and another eighty-one as a sideman.
Bebop and cool jazz pianist Lou Levy died of a heart attack in Dana Point, California at the age of 72 on January 23, 2001.
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Nina Moffitt was born on March 3, 1987 in Brooklyn, New York and began piano lessons at the age of five. She took up percussion in her father’s church ensemble and finally became a vocalist by leading the church congregation throughout her formative years. Attending the LaGuardia Arts High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, she studied classical music, gospel, jazz, and new music composition. Simultaneously she studied jazz voice privately at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
By 2005 Moffitt was singing with the All City Jazz Band at Lincoln Center, was granted an Honorary Mention from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in the category of jazz voice, and performed as a backup singer with pop star Josh Groban.
Graduating from Oberlin College with honors for her work in cultural and linguistic anthropology, not only did Nina study with world renowned Oberlin Conservancy professors like Lorraine Manz and Marcus Belgrave, she performed with the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble for four years, led jazz worship services at First Church of Oberlin and Trinity Church in Cleveland.
She cites Joni Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, and Nina Simone as her influences and has added bossa nova phrasing to her arsenal having studied Portuguese in Brazil. Vocalist Nina Moffitt has recorded her debut album Where I Have Been with her quintet and continues to perform with her band in the New York area.
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I Fall In Love Too Easily is a 1944 song composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. Frank Sinatra introduced the song in the 1945 film Anchors Aweigh. The film won an Academy Award for its music; the song was nominated for Best Original Song but lost. The other stars of the film were Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly.
The Story: Two Navy sailors, Joe Brady and Clarence Doolittle on a four-day leave in Hollywood. Joe has his heart set on spending time with his girl, the unseen Lola. Clarence, the shy choirboy turned sailor, asks Joe to teach him how to get girls. Enter Susan, aunt to a small boy who wants to join the Navy and Clarence is smitten with her at first sight. Susan goes on to tell them that she has been trying to find work in music, and longs to perform with José Iturbi. Trying to impress her with Clarence, Joe tells her that he has arranged an audition. That night, they go out to a cafe, where Clarence meets a girl from Brooklyn, and they hit it off.
With no audition in sight they decide to come clean. Susan gets her screen test on her own, it’s successful and in they end all is forgiven and the lovers kiss as a choir sings the theme song.
Maggie Nicols or Nichols, as she originally spelt her name as a performer, was born Margaret Nicholson on February 24, 1948 in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the age of fifteen she left school and started to work as a dancer at the Windmill Theatre. Her first singing engagement was in a strip club in Manchester a year later. At about that time she became obsessed with jazz, and sang with bebop pianist Dennis Rose. From then on she sang in pubs, clubs, hotels, and in dance bands with some of the finest jazz musicians around.
In 1968, Maggie went to London and joined an early improvisational group, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and performed at Berlin’s new avant-garde festival. In the early 1970s she began running voice workshops at the Oval House Theatre, acted in some of the productions and rehearsed regularly with a local rock band. Shortly afterwards she became part of Keith Tippett’s fifty-piece British jazz/progressive rock big band Centipede. She joined Brian Eley and formed the vocal group Voice, and around the same time began collaborating with the Scottish percussionist Ken Hyder and his band Talisker.
By the late 1970s, Nicols had become an active feminist, co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group, organized Contradictions, a women’s workshop performance group in 1980 and dealt with improvisation. Over the years, Nicols has collaborated with other women’s groups, such as the Changing Women Theatre Group, and even wrote music for a prime-time television series, Women in Sport.
Nicols has also collaborated regularly over the years with Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer and French bassist Joelle Leandre, touring and recording. She continues her duo collaboration with Ken Hyder, pianists Pete Nu and Steve Lodder, with her own daughter, Aura Marina, with avant-gardists Caroline Kraabe, Charlotte Hug and lighting designer Sue Neal. She performs throughout Europe and internationally at a variety of creative and improvised music festivals.
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Kellye Gray was born in Dallas, Texas on February 22, 1954. Beginning her career on Austin’s Sixth Street, she provided a rare jazz experience that attracted the college crowd as well as the more sophisticated up-and-coming baby boomers.
In 1990 her first album, Standards In Gray soared to #12 on the Gavin Report. Three years later, another chart-topper, Tomato Kiss helped her move into the national spotlight. An induction into the Texas Jazz Heritage Society along with moving to San Francisco continued to raise the bar and legitimized her as a career jazz vocalist
Her career stalled in 2000 after bereavement and divorce. Not one to be driven too far off-track, in 2002–03 Kellye produced the double live album Blue and Pink. By early 2007 she had put a new team together and released the concert recording, Live at the Jazzschool recorded in Berkeley.
2008 opened with another live recording, KG3 Live! at the Bugle Boy an acoustic trio project featuring classical guitar, acoustic bass and jazz voice. In the summer of 2010 she was the Vocal Intensive instructor at Jazz Camp West in California.
Kellye Gray has performed for dignitaries and heads-of-state throughout the U.S. and Europe performing with a wide variety of jazz, blues and R&B stars. She continues to sing at festivals, concerts and nightclubs.
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