T Lavitz, age 54, originally of Lakewood, NJ passed away in his sleep on October 8, 2010. He was the loving husband of Cheryl Milonopoulos of Woburn, and the beloved father of Dylan Gray Lavitz of Tacoma, WA. T was the son of Renee Lavitz (Kurman) of Winchester, VA and of the late Irving B. Lavitz . T was the brother of Kenny Lavitz of West Linn, OR and of Robin Van Horne of Atlanta, GA.
Memorial Services will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (Exit 34 off Rt. 128, Woburn side) on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 2 – 4 p.m. Relatives and friends respectfully invited to attend.
You may choose to donate (in lieu of flowers) to the most wonderful Musicians Assistance Program (used by many musicians from time-to-time) if you prefer. Please click on the link below if you choose. When clicking on donation type, please click on Tribute, to make your donations in T's name. Thank you.
A Quick Musical Biography of T Lavitz
T Lavitz began his intensive study of classical and jazz piano at age seven. At the same time, the Beatles invaded America, igniting in T a lifelong love of rock music.
By twenty-two, he was asked to join the rock, jazz, and everything else instrumental band, the Dixie Dregs. It was a dream come true, because they were one of his favorite bands, even at that relatively early stage in their career.
This first taste of fame happened during the last few days of 1978, lasting until the band split in 1983, by which time T had been voted Best New Talent in Keyboard Magazine's readers poll and the band had garnered four Grammy nominations.
Since then, T has released eight albums as a leader, consisting mostly of his own compositions. Additionally, T produced the cult favorite, Players, which features stellar performances by Jeff Berlin, Steve Smith, and Scott Henderson. Some of the artists featured on T's other albums include fellow Dregs, Steve Morse, Jerry Goodman, Rod Morgenstein, Dave LaRue and Mark O'Connor, as well as college alumni Danny Gottlieb and Bruce Hornsby. Other contributions have also been made by Alex Ligertwood, Maria Muldaur, Jeff Richman, Michael McDonald, Paul Barrere, Catfish Hodge, Oteil Burbidge, Dennis Chambers and many more.
In addition to the Dixie Dregs, T has performed around the world with Widespread Panic, Mothers Finest, Jefferson Starship, Billy Cobham, and Bill Bruford. As the list of critically acclaimed recordings grows, T says some of his favorite sessions were done with Nils Lofgren, Pat Benatar, The Bluesbusters, Peter Himmelman and perhaps most fondly...I'll always be a Dreg.
On Valentine's weekend 1992, the Dixie Dregs did a live reunion album for the newly reformed Capricorn Records in Atlanta, Georgia. Bring 'em Back Alive and the subsequent Full Circle studio disc each garnered Grammy nominations (bringing the total to six), and earning T the coveted Jazz Keyboardist of the Year award in Keyboard Magazine's readers poll.
T was also a founding member of Jazz is Dead, an instrumental exploration into the music of the Grateful Dead. T has been joined in this project by Rod Morgenstein, Billy Cobham, Jeff Sipe, Alphonso Johnson, guitarists Jimmy Herring and Jeff Pevar and most recently, bassist Dave Livolsi. The band now boasts three CD's, Blue Light Rain, Laughing Water, and Great Sky River, all of which are available on Zebra/Warner Bros., and a new as yet untitled studio album.
The last week of August 1999, the Dixie Dregs were reunited again for six shows, at which time a new album, California Screamin was recorded at the Roxy in Hollywood, California. The guys had such a good time together that a commitment was made to hit the road for a new tour early in 2000, and each subsequent year as well. The latest "e;run"e; of Dregs dates took place in California, during the first week of Jaunary 2007.
Along with his various other projects and live dates, T is also a part time faculty member at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and has an instructional book/CD (2007) published by the industry leading Hal Leonard Publishing company.
Back in the studio at the start of 2007, the music for School of the Arts was composed. This is some of my best stuff in a looong time Lavitz says. Released in October of 2007, this is his first for Magnatude (Magna Carta) Records, and boasts an allstar cast which consists of Dave Weckl, John Patitucci, Frank Gambale, Steve Morse and Jerry Goodman. Regarding this lineup, the response from Lavitz is ...honored to have my music played by guys like this!
A visitation will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (Exit 34 off Rt. 128, Woburn side) on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 2 - 4 p.m. with a Memorial Service at 3 p.m.. Relatives and friends respectfully invited to attend.
Berklee College of Music Obituary: T Lavitz
When working with young musicians, T Lavitz had only one fault: He made a lousy judge. Participating in Daddy's Junky Music Battle for Berklee competitions, He found it difficult to rate any musician over another, said Dana Acker, Berklee director of special programs. He only saw good in every single young musician he heard.
Lavitz, a keyboard player who directed Berklee's Summer Rock Workshop, passed away in his sleep the night of October 7. He was 54 years old. .
Born in New Jersey, Lavitz got his big break at the age of 22 when he joined the Dixie Dregs, an instrumental progressive fusion band. The band racked up four consecutive Grammy nominations in five years, and Keyboard magazine's readers voted Lavitz Best New Talent. .
Berklee faculty guitarist Julien Kasper first saw Lavitz perform at this time.Seeing them in person completely altered my perspective on the possibilities afforded a rock band with such an incredible level of collective virtuosity, he said. The experience changed my musical direction He even went on to attend the same college as Lavitz—the University of Miami. .
After the Dregs broke up in 1983, Lavitz recorded and performed with acts including Widespread Panic, Jefferson Starship, Billy Cobham, Nils Lofgren, and Pat Benatar, as well as releasing his own albums with associates such as bassist Jeff Berlin and former Dregs Steve Morse and Mark O'Connor. He cofounded the band Jazz Is Dead to explore and reinvent songs by the Grateful Dead; a reviewer for JamBase praised Lavitz's ability to combine an absolutely infectious groove with a "e;simple, straightforward, yet extremely complex understanding of 'less is more.'"e;.
The Dregs's reunion albums in the '90s brought Lavitz recognition from Keyboard once again, and two more Grammy nominations. The Dregs toured annually throughout the '00s. In 2008, he published the Hal Leonard instructional book Jazz-Rock Keyboard. .
Even as Lavitz continued to pound the pavement/ivories, he was making a place for himself at Berklee. In 2006, he began teaching in the college's Five-Week Summer Performance Program. He was hired because of his strong interest in teaching young musicians, his brilliant career as a performer, and the many supportive recommendations from Berklee faculty and president Roger Brown, said Bob Doezema, associate director of the program. The following year, the college brought him back as artistic director of the new Summer Rock Workshop, a five-week experience for top aspiring rock musicians. .
T shined in this role, said ensemble professor John Pierce. He had an extraordinary rapport with young students, bringing together diverse groups of talented young people and helping them to work together to make great music in a remarkably short time."e; .
Andrew Riezebeek was one of those students. Participating in the Rock Workshop resulted in me becoming close friends with T. Lavitz, he wrote in a Berklee blog entry. The intensity of the workshop helped us create a great social bond. I would have never dreamt to connect with such a successful musician."e; .
But Lavitz loved the college all year round. He was involved in various outreach activities for the summer program, including the Center for Arts in Natick's Rock Off Main Street series and the Daddy's battles. .
Berklee is great, not only because of the kids and the program, but because they really embrace their faculty going on tour, he told Keyboard in 2008. Can you imagine that? A job that lets you go on the road? It's a great place. There's an amazing amount of young talent there . . . the atmosphere is electric."e; Appropriately enough, he titled his 2008 album School of the Arts. .
His energy, enthusiasm, and love of music and teaching were inspiring to all who came in contact with him. He will be sorely missed, said Pierce.