John Levy, Bassist and Talent Manager, Dies at 99

Source: New York Times
John Levy, a bassist and pioneering talent manager whose roster included some of the biggest names in jazz, notably Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Cannonball Adderley and Wes Montgomery, died on Friday at his home in Altadena, Calif. He was 99.

His death was confirmed by his wife and business partner, Devra Hall Levy.

Widely credited as the first African-American personal manager in jazz, Mr. Levy entered that profession by happenstance: he was a member of the original George Shearing Quintet in the late 1940s, and by virtue of his diligent practicality, he gradually found himself entrusted with most of the group’s business decisions. He established his management company, John Levy Enterprises, in 1951; Shearing, the British pianist then still riding the momentum of an international hit, “September in the Rain,” became his first client.

He would go on to represent singers like Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln and Shirley Horn; pace-setting bandleaders like Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock; and crossover stars like Roberta Flack and Les McCann.

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