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Fwd: Marty Levitt 1931-2008, z"l

Dan Peck wrote to the Jewish-Music list for Henry Sapoznik:

Marty Levitt LP coverKlezmer Friends,

Marty Levitt, klezmer clarinetist and a one time popular Jewish band leader in New York in the 1960s died today. He was 77 and lived in Brooklyn, New York.The cause of death was lung cancer and lymphoma. Levitt came from a long line of professional Jewish musicians; he was the son on of famed klezmer trombonist Yankl "Jack" Levitt a noted Yiddish theater musician and member of the famed Boibriker Kapelle. During the 1950s and 1960s Marty Levitt together with his wife, vocalist Harriet Kane, had one of New York's most popular Jewish wedding orchestras regularly featuring an eight musician bandstand. The several LPs he recorded at this time for Tikva, Fiesta and other indie labels, picture a tuxedoed Levitt all pencil thin mustachios and horn rimmed glasses holding his clarinet at a rakish angle. Though not one of the best of the old line klezmer clarinetists, Marty Levitt commanded a unique and atypical repertoire and had a surprisingly literate knowledge of the history of klezmer music and its folklore. It was only his continual resistance to becoming part of the klezmer revival which kept him from being celebrated by a new generation of klezmer afficianados.

He is survived by a son, David, himself an outstanding jazz and klezmer trombonist.

From Hankus Netsky:

So sorry to hear about Marty—he was truly one-of-a-kind. When the "Klezmer Revival" started, he was one of the last guys on the New York scene actively playing the old repertoire—mostly because of his extensive contacts in the survivor community. His recording, "Wedding Dances," is a true standout among klezmer LPs, and he continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s, until a calcium deposit in his fourth and fifth finger on his left hand made it impossible for him to play the clarinet. As he used to say to me, "For most musicians, their dream was to play on Broadway or at Carnegie Hall. For me, my dream was to play on Pitkin Avenue." That was a dream he more than realized—no one knew as much about the Brooklyn Jewish music scene as Marty. He will truly be missed.

Paula Teitelbaum adds the last note:

He played at our wedding in November 1985.

According to the Discographie of the German book/cd on the Klezmer Revival, von der Khupe zum KlezKamp at least a couple of his LPs, including "Bar Mitzvah Favorites" have been on CD at least at one point.