Walter Levinsky

As He Wanted to Be Remembered

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Unwilling to submit to the rigors of the road, Walt Levinsky never became a well-known jazz name. By the time the clarinetist considered recording an album for Arbors in 1998, he had become too ill to complete the project. Fortunately for his legacy and traditional jazz fans, though, a live tape of a 1996 performance was discovered and issued in 2003. As He Wanted to Be Remembered is an exciting 60-minute set filled with interpretations of classics by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and others. Levinsky is joined by a top-notch group of players including guitarist Howard Alden, pianist Derek Smith, bassist Lynn Seaton, and drummer Joe Cocuzzo. The disc kicks off with a bouncy take on "Limehouse Blues" before flowing into Goodman's "A Smooth One" and an energetic version of "Air Mail Special." Levinsky's tone lovingly captures the classic style here, while Alden's guitar work -- especially on "Airmail Special" -- is blistering. There's a nice mix of upbeat and mellow tunes on As He Wanted to Be Remembered, altering between the quiet melancholy of "Here's That Rainy Day" and the wild ride of "After You've Gone." There are also two medleys, one of Goodman's compositions, the other of Ellington's, along with pleasant guest vocals by Annette Sanders on "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" and "Don't Get Around Much Any More." All around, As He Wanted to Be Remembered is a lovely memorial to a fine clarinetist.

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