Hank Levy leads Towson Jazz Ensemble in opener

October 30, 1990|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

HANK LEVY, Towson State University's veteran jazz man, leads his all-student Jazz Ensemble I in its first concert of the year at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the university's Fine Arts Concert Hall, at the corner of Osler and Cross Campus drives.

"I feel terrific but maybe I'm cooling down some," he reports after bypass operations in 1980 and 1989. It's hard to tell. The 63-year-old musician has hardly paused in a career that began in a big way in the 1950s with a six-month stint as baritone saxophone player with Stan Kenton.

A jazz teacher for 21 years at Towson, Levy has written, composed, arranged, conducted and recorded his students (his jazz group's first CD is planned for next year).

"I'm still excited about conducting, teaching and playing," Levy admitted. Tonight his 20 or so student musicians will sometimes play his own tunes such as "Time for a Change." Or they'll do his arrangements of standards such as "The Way You Look Tonight," "There'll Never be Another You" and "It's You or No One."

Dr. Joe Briscuso, a faculty member, will be a featured guest sax player. The ensemble is made up of five saxes, five trumpets, five trombones, drums, piano, bass, guitar and two auxiliaries. Levy promises to "wave my arms" energetically for the eight numbers in the first half and six in the second. Concert duration is about 90 minutes.

Levy actually leads two student groups, Jazz Ensemble I and II (making its debut Dec. 11 at the Concert Hall), groups having somewhat interchangeable players. One reason he has two is the wealth of talent at Towson. Levy figures the university has 60 or 70 jazz majors in its unusual program. He appreciates the support at the top. His musicians will play in January at the annual Washington meeting of the International Association of Jazz Educators.

The native Baltimorean has worked with Don Ellis, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Watrous and Andre Kostelanetz and Kenton among others. He began his musical life in five decades as a tap dancer, moved to the accordion and then took up the baritone sax. He has led the TSU jazz group to victories in most major collegiate jazz competitions but lately feels it's more productive to make ensemble recordings than to spend the money on trips.

Tickets for tonight's concert are $3, $2 for students and seniors and $1 for TSU music students. For tickets and information on all fine arts events, call 830-ARTS.

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In another TSU event in the Concert Hall, the Towson Chamber Players presents a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4. The program includes the following:

Telemann's "Sonata in A Minor," with Sara Landgren on baroque flute; H. Gene Griswold on recorder and Richard Schroeder, harpsichord; Two Rhapsodies by Charles Loeffler, performed by Ann Bilezikian, oboe; Sherrie Norwitz, viola, and Reynaldo Reyes, piano; "Sechs Bagatellen" by Gyorgy Ligeti and "Quintet II" by Alvin Etler, performed by Langren, flute; Bilezikian, oboe; Edward Palanker, clarinet; Griswold, bassoon, and Karen Thornton, horn.

The rest of the free Chamber Players 7:30 p.m. Sunday schedule is as follows: Feb. 17, Baltimore Trio, with Cecylia Barczyk, cello; Reynaldo Reyes, piano, and Zoltan Szabo, violin; March 10, Towson Brass Quintet; and April 7, Towson Fine Arts Wind Quartet.

TSU music shows up in two other Concert Hall events soon. The opera workshop presents a free evening of scenes from seven operas at 8:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10. Directing the scenes are two faculty members, Phyllis Frankel, former New York City opera soprano, and Shirley Thompson, veteran mezzo-soprano in European opera houses.

Then, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, Edward Palanker, clarinet player with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and TSU faculty member, directs the Clarinet Choir and Woodwind Ensemble in a free recital.

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