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William Levine

English professor who has written intermittently about jazz, mostly for urban arts weeklies, since 1992.

About Me

Currently writing a history of "jazz," taking the term in its broadest possible sense, in Nashville music from the 1920's to the present. After absorbing everything Steely Dan recorded in the 70's, my listening interests had to expand into jazz, starting with the guest soloists on their LPs like Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Steve Khan, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, et al. But even as a kid I probably picked up a little about jazz when Ramsey Lewis, Al Hirt, or even the Village Stompers had hits on AM radio when I was a kid. At some point in grad school, had to move on from the GRP roster and into everything I could find from Weather Report, Miles, Coltrane, classic Blue Note, Metheny, OJC, Atlantic, etc., and then onto writing about my enthusiasms for the Houston Press when I was between jobs early in my career. Though it was fun to run across town and cover acts like the Flecktones when they were down to a trio format, my best assignment then was to review Ornette's Shape of Jazz to Come in what I think was an 8-cassette format. Took up writing about jazz again about 10 years later when I was settled in the Nashville area, where I can still find people who know something about playing jazz on the chromatic harp (which I occasionally fool with). Always appreciated the strength of the locally based scenes, and though I've broadened my tastes from avant-garde/left-of-center, I still want to hear the players make it new.

My Jazz Story

I love jazz because it pushes the boundaries, challenges listeners to listen and think, can allow instrumentalists and composers to take on new territory that, at least since Ornette, isn't predefined even by the existing conventions of a "mainstream" tradition. The best show I ever attended was Pat Metheny w/o Lyle Mays but with Gil Goldstein and Jim Beard stepping into his shoes at Trinity U, San Antonio, about 1993.