Henry 'Hot Lips' Levine

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b. 26 November 1907, London, England, d. USA. Levine’s family emigrated to the USA early in 1908. In 1917, Levine heard Nick LaRocca playing with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, an event which determined…
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b. 26 November 1907, London, England, d. USA. Levine’s family emigrated to the USA early in 1908. In 1917, Levine heard Nick LaRocca playing with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, an event which determined his future career. He learned to play trumpet and turned professional in 1925; by extraordinary coincidence his first job was with the ODJB, by then much-changed from the line-up Levine had seen as a child. Levine played in several studio bands of the mid-20s, recording with Nat Shilkret, Vincent Lopez and others, but in 1927 was hired by British band leader Bert Ambrose. He opened with Ambrose at the Mayfair Hotel in London in March and in June made records with the band.

The following month he recorded under the leadership of Fred Elizalde. Towards the end of the year, he returned to New York where, for the next few years, he played in bands led by Cass Hagan, Rudy Vallee and other popular entertainers of the period. He then returned to studio work, among other things leading NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street jazz group. After World War II Levine directed radio, television and hotel orchestras in various parts of the USA, settling in Las Vegas in 1961 where he played in numerous hotel and casino bands. He retired in 1982. A fine lead trumpeter and an effective soloist, Levine was little known among jazz fans despite his long and active career.