MJRC Member Biographies

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Danny Lewitt, July 2009

Guess who?

Member—MJRC, stays out of trouble otherwise.

Occupation—Retired entrepreneur.

What led you to your occupation? Social trends that affect business change, and one must adapt.

What was your first purchased recording? It was “Redskin Rhumba” by Charlie Barnet on Bluebird, and immediately I bought Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

What is the one thing in your eight decades you cannot live without? “Good music, the kind that swings.”

What possessions give you the most pride, the most satisfaction in ownership? “It’s my complete collection of Cal Tjader. I have everything he ever did.” My collection of Stan Kenton is 95%.

Given an opportunity, what would you most like to acquire? The other 5% of Stan Kenton’s output.

HAVE YOU DECIDED? This former vice-president of MJRC is Dan Lewitt. I tend to view him as our music historian. He can always identify who is the soloist is on the recording being played.

A brief sketch follows: Dan joined the MJRC in 1990; this was after many years of involvement with music. He had the advantage of being born into a musical family; his mother sang, his father played banjo and harmonica. His brother Jack was known for his trombone work. His daughters have inherited musical interests. Dan speaks of his love of drumming existing almost from birth. In the early years it was forming beats with any available stick or chair spindle. This remained a constant. He explored many interests in his earlier years—fishing, bowling, photography, collection of stamps and coins—but the interest in expression through making beats remained. He played drums in his high school band, and in the Drum & Bugle Corp while in the navy.

Dan shows his spirit with his claim that he was trained in the skill of drumming by Gene Krupa, The Gene Krupa Drum Method book acquired in 1942 for $1.25. He was able to do what many could not, he became proficient enough to play professionally with the “Sophisticats” band. He played with them from 1959 until 1963. The style of music that could receive bookings changed from Swing to Rock’s Roll. He left with his fellow bandmates; he had a barbershop, a trade, and could elect to not pursue Rock’n Roll.

Dan has seen changes in the fabric of our society that affect the way one makes a living as a businessman. First in his career, it was the fashion of long hair worn by men. Dan read the future and switched to a shop that specialized in stamps and coins. Later that field was no longer supported by the public. He possessed flexibility and started a record shop. Dan named it “Solo Records” because the prices were “So Low.” His daughter runs the shop today; Dan can be seen there occasionally when an employee needs to take time off.

When asked he states that today his favorite music is the same as it was years ago—Swing, Jazz, Dixieland. “I’ve heard nothing better since.” However, that is not quite accurate. He cites the film “Black Orpheus” as a critical point in helping to develop his love of Bossa Nova and Latin-influenced Jazz.

Dan observed that both good music and good movies are more enjoyable shared. Thanks for sharing with us.