DORI LEVINE - VOCALIST & TEACHER
"If sultriness were patentable, Levine would hold the patent. She vocalizes in a down-to-earth style that projects her voice as an improvising instrument. Yet she can also ooze out emotion as a torch singer, placing her in a dual attack role as a Jazz vocalist.
"Dori Levine gives life to the text with her voice so profound to attract the attention on every syllable pronounced, exploring the deep meaning of the words to give them a new dimension. (about her CD Koo-Koo with pianist Michael Levy)...they breathe jazz, it's voices, it's notes, it's diction, it's smoky nights."
Dori Levine is a singer who is going to shock some people. She has incredible power and a very personal sound, and a conception that is just audacious. When Dori sings a song, it's like she's telling you a story from her life, and you feel what she feels about it. She holds nothing back....her humor, her capacity to hear everything in the music and respond to it, and the agility of her musical mind gassed everybody in the house. "
Andy Fite, Jazz Life
"Dori Levine's remarkable wordless vocalizing on "Koo-Koo" is quite memorable and otherworldly. Her confidence in this unusual musical landscape will stick in one's mind long afterward."
"Dori's voice flowing along like an instrument ...clearly NOT afraid to improvise... Dori draws on a wide variety of scat and vocal sounds to express what she has to say."
DORI LEVINE has been performing in clubs and concert settings in and around New York City and abroad for a couple of decades. Her unique improvisational style lends itself to an astonishing range of material. Dori is equally at home interpreting standards and as she is singing the blues, swingin' like crazy and spontaneously creating her own "other worldly" free improvisations. She has achieved recognition for her high level of proficiency in the art of scat singing and has developed her own distinctive voice and language in this fascinating arena. She demonstrates impressive ease and freedom as an interpreter of Jazz Standards and American Popular Song by composers like Cole Porter, Gershwin, and Rodgers and Hart just to name a few.
Here's the whole story...
Dori was born in Newark, New Jersey. Her first performance was at age six in the Memorial High School auditorium in Cedar Grove, N.J.(her home town),singing "The Eensy, Weensy Spider". After her stunning vocal debut she began showing talent as a visual artist. That talent was nurtured, and Dori was given art lessons as a child and attended the School of Visual Arts, where she earned her B.F.A. In the meantime, something was a-brewin'. Somewhere in her teenage years, along with her ravenous appetite for the girl groups and motown, she discovered "the blues". She learned to play guitar and sing some. She was particularily taken with Mississippi Delta blues and the music of Bessie Smith. Blues found it's way into her soul. When she turned eighteen someone gave her her first Billie Holiday album, and Dori's life was changed. She had never heard a voice like Holiday's.There was something about this singer who sang from the depths of her soul that drew Dori in. She proceeded to memorize all the tracks and wear out the record.
She moved into an apartment on 114th street and Broadway in Manhattan, around the corner from the West End Bar. At the West End was a young Phil Schapp (of WKCR radio) booking ex-Ellington and Basieites like Russell Procope, Jo Jones, and Paul Quinichette. Dori had found herself a home. On her meager art students budget she went in every night, ordered a cup of tea and sat for hours, enthralled by the music. She had always known that there was this music that she loved, she just didn't know what it was until she found jazz at the West End. Around this same time she also had the excitment of discovering Ella Fitzgerald Sarah Vaughn, and Carmen McRae. She was inspired to start making her transition from the blues into jazz. She started learning standards, playing some jazz on the guitar and singing in some showcases around N.Y.C. Then, one day she heard Betty Carter. She thought Betty was the hippest singer she had ever heard. She was intrigued not only by Betty's uniquely personal vibratoless sound but by the way Betty functioned as a band member, like another instrument. She had never heard another singer engage in interplay with the instrumentalists to the extent that Betty did. Betty's arrangements, stage presence and confidence as a performer were also inspiring to Dori as a young singer.
It seemed like time to get serious with her new-found passion. Having reached a crossroads in her artistic life between art and music, she decided that she wanted to be involved in a more sociable art form that involved spontaneity and performing. She sought out her first teachers, among whom were Anne Marie Moss (who taught her to breathe and started the process of opening up her voice). She put together her first band and got a steady gig at a place in Tribeca that was called "Prescott's" (now Yaffa's).This band included Bob Peck on guitar, Paul Colin on tenor sax, and Dave Hofstra on bass. The next life-changing experience for her was when a friend played her a recording of Liz Gorrill playing piano and singing. It was a jaw dropper. She was astounded and amazed, not only that Liz was playing two instruments at once and incredibly well, but she had never heard that extent of freedom, startling musicianship, and originality in a pianist/vocalist before. She was told that Liz studied with the great pianist and master teacher, Lennie Tristano. Dori knew then, that she wanted to study with Lennie. She sought Lennie out and embarked upon one of her most focused periods as a vocal student. Under Lennie's tutelage, she began an intense study of Billie Holiday's work and started learning solos by such artists as Lester Young and Charlie Parker. Lennie had his students sing along, note for note, inflection for inflection with recordings. Now she was starting to get it.