Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    By serendipity I just came upon this documentary on Sean Levitt. If you don't know of Sean, he was one of the great players of my generation. He died in 2005 at only 52. He also was my friend until he left for Europe (Spain) in '82. Sean, Eddie Diehl and I were good buddies and I know Eddie loved Sean's playing. I did too---he was masterful. Enjoy:



  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    truly excellent player, I've known a few like him, though not necessarily guitar players.
    there was an old thread here
    [ignore some of the jackass comments]

    Sean Levitt

  4. #3
    Sean stayed w/me and my parents in Canarsie. He was, well, funky. Drunk on the L train and zeroing in on a couple. 'Are you treating that woman right? Are you lovin' her?'---like that the whole ride, despite me telling him to dig himself and shut the f up. He had a shower, thankfully, I made him some grub, I remember we played some some, sitting on my bed, then he crashed on the carpet. After he left the next day my mother said 'Don't bring me home any more stray cats!'. Ah, but this was a special cat.


    He had a wicked sense of humor---he called Tom Harrell Mot Llerrah and said he always looked like the world vanished and left him sitting on a rock. Though I adored Harrell and still do I did crack up---it was all irreverent fun. (This had to be like '78----before Eddie and I started hangin' heavy in '80). I was bugging Bob Mover to show me stuff---that's when I 1st heard and was blown away by Harrell. He was in Bob's group at Sweet Basil, and whoa, was he playing! I remember Sean sitting in with Ronnie Cuber and Tom I guess Jorge Dalto was in that band, but I only heard about that from Sean.

    When I hooked up w/Diehl he and Sean were already very tight. I'm sure Sean stayed for a while in 'Eddie's cave'----don't ask! So we hung out at Eddie's job---the repair concession at the Folklore Center. I don't remember if the three of us played, just jamming---probably not. But Eddie, Jared Bernstein (then a bassist, now a well-know economist) and I had a group: Unity. We had a few gigs and made a demo that Sean said he loved. That made me feel proud, b/c I never knew what he really thought of my playing. He wasn't mouthy and demonstrative like Eddie. I knew what Eddie thought, good bad or indifferent, b/c he would tell me. 'There's the chipmonk at work', hearing a tape I did. He called me 'Sprank' b/c when I missed a note I'd sort of sprank it. I have a feeling Sean was hurt that he wasn't in some other group w/Eddie b/c he loved him as much as I did.

    I last saw Sean in '82, clean and happy, right before he split for the Continent. He had a gig as dishwasher and I remember him in his whites outside the restaurant, proudly peeling off some small sum I had forgotten he owed me. I would ask people either from or who'd passed through Spain about my friend. Heard he was doing OK, gigging in this or that joint or on a train---but I knew he wasn't.

    Whatever his self-destructive habits may have been, like the talking head in the film said he had a 'very clean soul'. And it came out when he played---pure beauty, no licks, no filler or bullshit. That was Sean Levitt.

    RIP, my gypsy friend---you were one of a kind...
    Last edited by joelf; 11-19-2019 at 10:37 AM.

  5. #4
    HELLO!!

    Am I talking to myself?

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by joelf View Post
    HELLO!!

    Am I talking to myself?
    Thanks for posting the link to the doc, but you have posted your experience w/him and Eddie here and on other forums before, thanks for those. Maybe someone will tune in that doesn't know of him.
    I really dug Eddie as well but hadn't seen him perform since well before he passed and didn't really know him well anyway.
    The doc gives recognition to an excellent guitar player which is a good thing, but honestly I didn't get too much out of it and kinda found myself fast forwarding through much of the spaces between the dialogue.
    His story, sad it is, doesn't sound much different than a lot of other cats that lived similar lives, getting hooked on junk and ripping off their friends and families out of desperation.
    But maybe it'll keep his legacy alive to an extent because there's no denying that talent, and I get plenty out of his playing, so....
    thanks, peace

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by joelf View Post
    HELLO!!

    Am I talking to myself?
    He was a great player, it's hard to get over what a tragic story it was.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    Thanks for posting the link to the doc, but you have posted your experience w/him and Eddie here and on other forums before, thanks for those. Maybe someone will tune in that doesn't know of him.
    I really dug Eddie as well but hadn't seen him perform since well before he passed and didn't really know him well anyway.
    The doc gives recognition to an excellent guitar player which is a good thing, but honestly I didn't get too much out of it and kinda found myself fast forwarding through much of the spaces between the dialogue.
    His story, sad it is, doesn't sound much different than a lot of other cats that lived similar lives, getting hooked on junk and ripping off their friends and families out of desperation.
    But maybe it'll keep his legacy alive to an extent because there's no denying that talent, and I get plenty out of his playing, so....
    thanks, peace
    I think he was better than 'excellent'. I think he was a rara avis..I played with many great guitarists back then---that's mostly what we did. No one had gigs except for when (the great) Tim Breen left town with Frankie Valli---we mostly jammed duos and trios in guys' apartments. Jim Silberstein, Sam Brown, Breen (who scared EVERYBODY), Al Jaffee, Eddie, and Sean and myself. So I got a good feel for who could do what and Sean was at the very top.

    So I got pissed when no one responded but again put up the 45,000th thread about the nicotine stains in Metheny's underwear. He's already rich and successful. Sean was a real artist (not saying Pat isn't) and died a pauper. I think it's beautiful that these people made the doc. Sorry it didn't appeal to you. If you just want to hear Sean play there's plenty on youtube and FB. Peace, as well...

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    truly excellent player, I've known a few like him, though not necessarily guitar players.
    there was an old thread here [ignore some of the jackass comments] Sean Levitt
    Yeah, I posted that one years ago. And a pity about the jackass comments made in the thread... They could only come from one person. I see he is banned now.

    DB

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by joelf View Post
    I think he was better than 'excellent'. I think he was a rara avis..I played with many great guitarists back then---that's mostly what we did. No one had gigs except for when (the great) Tim Breen left town with Frankie Valli---we mostly jammed duos and trios in guys' apartments. Jim Silberstein, Sam Brown, Breen (who scared EVERYBODY), Al Jaffee, Eddie, and Sean and myself. So I got a good feel for who could do what and Sean was at the very top.

    So I got pissed when no one responded but again put up the 45,000th thread about the nicotine stains in Metheny's underwear. He's already rich and successful. Sean was a real artist (not saying Pat isn't) and died a pauper. I think it's beautiful that these people made the doc. Sorry it didn't appeal to you. If you just want to hear Sean play there's plenty on youtube and FB. Peace, as well...
    Agree completely he was an outstanding player, thought I made it clear I dig him, sorry if "truly excellent" wasn't strong enough.
    No need to get pissed if people don't respond, doesn't mean they don't like his playing, I suspect many here do and some might have watched the doc, but not everyone takes the time to type about it.
    I wasn't looking to be impressed w the doc but one almost didn't need to watch it after the first few minutes. Just that same sad self destructive story ala Billy Bean, Doug Raney, just to cite a couple his playing reminds me of, much more so Bean, one of my absolute favorites, though I dont know if they screwed their friends over too. I'd rather remember him for his playing than being a great playing junkie, so maybe I will just listen instead.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    I'm still trying to carve out some time to watch...seeing that it's subtitled, it'll be an "all in" activity.

    You turned me on to Sean's playing here a few years ago. Dude was great.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    .
    No need to get pissed if people don't respond, doesn't mean they don't like his playing, I suspect many here do and some might have watched the doc, but not everyone takes the time to type about it.
    Don't mind me, I'm just a nervous Jew...

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post

    I wasn't looking to be impressed w the doc but one almost didn't need to watch it after the first few minutes. Just that same sad self destructive story ala Billy Bean, Doug Raney, just to cite a couple his playing reminds me of, much more so Bean, one of my absolute favorites, though I dont know if they screwed their friends over too. I'd rather remember him for his playing than being a great playing junkie, so maybe I will just listen instead.
    Pretty judgmental there, pal. I made it clear that I KNEW Sean, and I'M telling you he was a beautiful person. I know how he treated me---and I'm not giving him or anyone else a pass for bad behavior.

    Respectfully, if you would've paid more attention to the doc you'd have seen that Sean was treated lousy by his biological father---the reason he took Al Levitt's name. Music in his family saved him, his GIFT saved him.

    I guess you could say Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Bird, Miles were manipulative pricks also who were lucky to be so gifted. But we didn't KNOW these people, are judging by 2nd and 3rd hand 'information'.

    I've been around junkies my whole career. I'm no softie but I can see beneath the habit to what the person was really about. You could too, if you dropped the fast judging. See, now I'M judging YOU---also not so easy a habit to drop...

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    born in brooklyn...latch key kid @ 6...saw plenty...stayed big city guy my whole life..trouble with your hypothesis is that serious substance abuse changes your inner self...that nice harmless soulful guy is now beating his mother for $$$...runnin allsorts of scams...and worse

    and it always ends badly...great musician or not

    nobody sayin he wasnt a fine musician, but its too ugly a story for some...and i can't blame 'em..as you recently told someone else here...it tells more about yourself... that you can see through it

    and this is not malicious, so don't come at me...(i like, respect & sympathize with your efforts)...it just is what it is


    cheers

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    born in brooklyn...latch key kid @ 6...saw plenty...stayed big city guy my whole life..trouble with your hypothesis is that serious substance abuse changes your inner self...that nice harmless soulful guy is now beating his mother for $$$...runnin allsorts of scams...and worse

    and it always ends badly...great musician or not

    nobody sayin he wasnt a fine musician, but its too ugly a story for some...and i can't blame 'em..as you recently told someone else here...it tells more about yourself... that you can see through it

    and this is not malicious, so don't come at me...(i like, respect & sympathize with your efforts)...it just is what it is


    cheers
    Would never come at you. I'm just sticking up for a friend being maligned by people who didn't know him well at all (read: in the film). If we were friends and someone said untrue or unkind things you'd be drug if I didn't stick up for you, right?

    I don't know what happened in Spain. I said I last saw Sean in '82 before he split, and back then he was really trying to straighten up. I never saw him beat anyone. He 'borrowed' things. That story about taking amps and returning dollies doesn't sound at all like the Sean Levitt I knew---but people change, especially when they have addictions.

    I feel bad now about telling our personal history b/c this thread is getting off-topic. I do want to commend you cats at least for civility here. Appreciated. Now can we get back to the music---the reason I STARTED the thread?

    Sean's playing was comprehensive AND soulful. That's relatively rare: usually it's one or the other. He could get around all the tempos and stay in the pocket. Beautiful ideas and spacing. I think he got a lot from Eddie, who taught us all to swing more (I mean by 'us all' the young players he influenced, and there were lots of us). He was sitting in in '78 with Ronnie Cuber (who suffered no fools or musical BSers) with Tom Harrell in the group---and he could HANG. He was one of the best then and, I repeat, a beautiful cat despite the other stuff...

  16. #15





  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by joelf View Post
    Pretty judgmental there, pal. I made it clear that I KNEW Sean, and I'M telling you he was a beautiful person. I know how he treated me---and I'm not giving him or anyone else a pass for bad behavior.

    Respectfully, if you would've paid more attention to the doc you'd have seen that Sean was treated lousy by his biological father---the reason he took Al Levitt's name. Music in his family saved him, his GIFT saved him.

    I guess you could say Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Bird, Miles were manipulative pricks also who were lucky to be so gifted. But we didn't KNOW these people, are judging by 2nd and 3rd hand 'information'.

    I've been around junkies my whole career. I'm no softie but I can see beneath the habit to what the person was really about. You could too, if you dropped the fast judging. See, now I'M judging YOU---also not so easy a habit to drop...
    My friend, you knew him, I get it.
    He might very well have been a beautiful person and junk aside, it's entirely possible, that shit'll make you do stupid and desperate things. w all due respect you're not the only one that's known and played w great musicians that happened to be addicted and or f'ups. It can be a sad narrative.
    I DID watch the whole doc, thank you, I only blew past the empty spaces. I had heard stories yrs ago from friends that knew him personally, ripping off his friends before even seeing the doc, and and lo and behold there's a guy in it saying he borrowed a friend's amp and sold it to someone else right in front of him. Did that fellow make that story up?
    Bottom line he was a great guitar player that had some substance issues. Doesn't diminish my opinion one iota of him as a player like the previously mentioned Baker, Pepper, Bird , Miles, Getz, Dex et al, love all those guys' contributions to the music, they're my musical heroes. Hell, if one were to judge these cats solely on being clean/good people, the list of greats would be considerably shorter.
    I'm not judging Sean any differently, just saying I've seen his story and too often it mirrors many that came before him. the doc just didn't shed any new light on him for me, but is good in that it at least keeps his musical legacy alive to a degree, which is the most important thing!
    But in the end you're right, all the b.s. and sad circumstances aside, the man was an exceptional talent.
    peace...

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    My friend, you knew him, I get it.
    He might very well have been a beautiful person and junk aside, it's entirely possible, that shit'll make you do stupid and desperate things. w all due respect you're not the only one that's known and played w great musicians that happened to be addicted and or f'ups. It can be a sad narrative.
    I DID watch the whole doc, thank you, I only blew past the empty spaces. I had heard stories yrs ago from friends that knew him personally, ripping off his friends before even seeing the doc, and and lo and behold there's a guy in it saying he borrowed a friend's amp and sold it to someone else right in front of him. Did that fellow make that story up?
    Bottom line he was a great guitar player that had some substance issues. Doesn't diminish my opinion one iota of him as a player like the previously mentioned Baker, Pepper, Bird , Miles, Getz, Dex et al, love all those guys' contributions to the music, they're my musical heroes. Hell, if one were to judge these cats solely on being clean/good people, the list of greats would be considerably shorter.
    I'm not judging Sean any differently, just saying I've seen his story and too often it mirrors many that came before him. the doc just didn't shed any new light on him for me, but is good in that it at least keeps his musical legacy alive to a degree, which is the most important thing!
    But in the end you're right, all the b.s. and sad circumstances aside, the man was an exceptional talent.
    peace...
    Dig...

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    outstanding posts Joelf...ty

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by voxsss View Post
    outstanding posts Joelf...ty
    Just speaking my heart.

    What (who) is a 'ty'?

    Your name? Damn, I'm good. LOL...

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Probably "thank you."

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by corpse View Post
    Probably "thank you."
    Duuuuuh----I knew that!

    Yeah, THAT'S the ticket!...