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Alonzo Levister

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A while ago I bought the RVG of John Coltrane "Traneing In," and the track that struck me most was a song called slow dance by Alonzo Levister. I had never heard of him before, but I was fairly obsessed with the song and so I tried to find out what I could on-line. However, there doesn't seem to be much information (he appears to have a myspace page, but all I can gather from there is that he's still alive and writes jazz-opera).

As far as I can tell, he only released one album, "Manhattan Monodrama" released by Debut in 1956, with the following band: Louis Mucci (tp) John LaPorta (as, cl) Lorin Bernsohn (vlc) Arne Gold (xyl, per) Teddy Charles (vib, per) Alonzo Levister (p, arr) Morris Lang (timp) Jackson Wiley (cond). The album features a version of Slow Dance (and this version, and the Coltrane version seem to be the only recorded versions, as far as I can tell; which I find pretty surprising).

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or information about Alonzo Levister. Is there anyone who could tell me what Manhattan Monodrama is like? (not that I'd be able to get my hands on it; I can't imagine it will be released on cd any time soon).

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one track (black swan) was released on the debut records story 4CD set by fantasy

http://www.amazon.com/Debut-Records-Story-...2647&sr=8-3

i like the (short) track quite a bit, it somehow is third stream but it doesn't come across very technical or classical, it's a bit like a march (haven't heard it in a while)

a pretty interesting cd set (maybe i wouldn't get it just for one track - but then there are various interesting things on it... (john dennis, for instance is another artist worth checking out...))

i would buy manhattan monodrama!

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There's a bit of info on Lonnie Levister in the 10CD Mingus Debut set booklet. Don't have the booklet in front of me but recall that he was dating Max Roach's ex-girlfriend (or something like that) and she got him the recording date with Debut (her money I believe). One or two tracks (with vocals) in the big Debut box arranged by Levister and with Thad Jones prominent on trumpet . They sound pretty dated now but are most definitely interesting to hear.

Edited by sidewinder

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i would buy manhattan monodrama!

Same here ! I wonder if it's ever been reissued in full in any form? (suspect not)

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Didn't he do the arrangements for some girl singer on a Debut LP? Ada Moore perhaps?

Edited by mikeweil

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Levister also arranged this Prestige All Stars date:

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His own Debut LP is one of the few items OJC never reissued .....

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I'd love to find a copy of that Levister Debut LP but I've never, ever seen one. I have the OJC of the Ada Moore - will check it out again.

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His own LP is on German Ebay as a Buy-It-Now item:

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Ebay link

The seller asks for € 99,99 .....

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If I had a record player and a lot of money I would certainly try to get my hands on a copy of that album.

There seem to be a handful of Debut albums that have never been issued on cd, and Manhattan Monodrama is one of them. As best I can tell, these are the only Debut albums that were never issued on cd (correct me if I'm wrong):

Sam Most "Sam Most Sextet" (December 29, 1953)

Doug Mettome (tp, arr -1,3,5,6) Urbie Green (tb -1,3,5,6) Sam Most (fl, cl) Bob Dorough (p, arr) Percy Heath (b) Louie Bellson (d)

John LaPorta "The John LaPorta Quintet" (March 9, 1954)

Louis Mucci (tp) John LaPorta (as, cl) Wally Cirillo (p) Richard Carter (b) Ed Shaughnessy (d)

John LaPorta "Three Moods" (1954)

Louis Mucci (tp) John LaPorta (as, cl) Barry Galbraith (g) Richard Carter (b) Charlie Perry (d)

Alonzo Levister "Manhattan Monodrama" (August, 1956)

Louis Mucci (tp) John LaPorta (as, cl) Lorin Bernsohn (vlc) Arne Gold (xyl, per) Teddy Charles (vib, per) Alonzo Levister (p, arr) Morris Lang (timp) Jackson Wiley (cond)

Oscar Pettiford Sextet (Copenhagen, July 5 & 6, 1960)

Allan Botchinsky (tp) Erik Nordstrom (ts) Louis Hjulmand (vib) Jan Johansson (p) Oscar Pettiford (b, cello) Jorn Elniff (d)

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One or two tracks (with vocals) in the big Debut box arranged by Levister and with Thad Jones prominent on trumpet . They sound pretty dated now but are most definitely interesting to hear.

that version of portrait with thad jones as the soloist is my favorite piece in the small debut box, maybe very much of its time, but so colorful (complicated) and atmospheric

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Here's details on the session from Noal Cohen's Teddy Charles Discography:

Date: ca. 1956

Location: Audiosonic Studio, NY

Label: Debut

Alonzo Levister (ldr), Louis Mucci (t), John LaPorta (as, cl), Lorin Bernsohn (vc), Teddy Charles (vib, per), Arne Gold (x, per), Alonzo Levister (p), Morris Lang (tmp), Jackson Wiley (con)

a. Conclave - 2:35 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

b. Leap Frog - 2:52 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

c. Black Swan - 3:24 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

Debut CD: 4DCD-4420-2 — The Debut Records Story (1997)

d. Sugar Hill Strut - 1:53 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

e. Slow Dance - 4:29 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

f. Manhattan Monodrama (Ballet Suite) - First Movement - 6:08 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

g. Manhattan Monodrama (Ballet Suite) - Second Movement - 5:46 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

h. Manhattan Monodrama (Ballet Suite) - Final Movement - 4:02 (Alonzo Levister) / arr: Alonzo Levister

All titles on: Debut LP 12": DEB 125 — Manhattan Monodrama (1956)

Edited by mikeweil

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There seem to be a handful of Debut albums that have never been issued on cd, and Manhattan Monodrama is one of them. As best I can tell, these are the only Debut albums that were never issued on cd (correct me if I'm wrong)

The Pettifords were on a Danish Debut LP and reissued on CD by Black Lion.

The Sam Most (a 10") was on a Xanadu LP - a nice session. But it never was on CD, you're right. The others you mention never saw any kind of reissue, AFAIK.

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John LaPorta "The John LaPorta Quintet" (March 9, 1954)

Louis Mucci (tp) John LaPorta (as, cl) Wally Cirillo (p) Richard Carter (b) Ed Shaughnessy (d)

John LaPorta "Three Moods" (1954)

Louis Mucci (tp) John LaPorta (as, cl) Barry Galbraith (g) Richard Carter (b) Charlie Perry (d)

I have both of these on LP. The 'Three Moods' is a Debut original. The 'Quintet' is a limited Japanese pressing.

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The Sam Most (a 10") was on a Xanadu LP - a nice session. But it never was on CD, you're right.

Actually it is on CD . Lonehill has put it out combined with one of Most's Bethlehem sides . See here .

Not surprisingly it's a needle-drop , but 'vinyl-artifacts' are only really apparent on one track . Good sound otherwise , considering the vintage . Any flute or clarinet fan would enjoy this I think . A rare chance to hear Bob Dorough the instrumentalist as opposed to vocalist , as well .

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The Sam Most (a 10") was on a Xanadu LP - a nice session. But it never was on CD, you're right.

Actually it is on CD . Lonehill has put it out combined with one of Most's Bethlehem sides . See here .

Not surprisingly it's a needle-drop , but 'vinyl-artifacts' are only really apparent on one track . Good sound otherwise , considering the vintage . Any flute or clarinet fan would enjoy this I think . A rare chance to hear Bob Dorough the instrumentalist as opposed to vocalist , as well .

My initial thought was, check the Andorrans first - you always can rely on them for much of these rare items.

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just a heads up, that there's finally a new Alonzo Levister Album out on CDbaby

more info

sample Track

more Levister

"After years of hustling to get funding for his theater projects, he’d decided the time was nigh to put together a CD with an eye towards accessibility. He wanted to make a record that would reach people, ála Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On," ... from what i've heard so far it's better than this description implies but i'm still unsure - actually i'd be very interested in comments...

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The good folks at Fresh Sound really missed an opportunity with their Complete Debut Recordings of John LaPorta reissue. Instead of giving us a 2-CD set padded with alternate takes and already-available Fantasy material, they could have issued a single CD (~ 79 mins.) featuring the two LaPorta-led Debut dates, plus Levister's Manhattan Monodrama Debut session on which he appears as a sideman.

Levister's latest, Jazzanova, is so utterly inconsequential compared to the brilliance and originality of Manhattan Monodrama, that it scarely seems possible that they are products of the same musical mind, even allowing for the half-century between them.

My copy of Manhattan Monodrama isn't for sale at any price, but the most recent copy to appear on Ebay was bid up to $500 without meeting the reserve !

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I agree.

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