T Lavitz 1956-2010
Endangered Species promo photo with Kenny Gradney, Richie Hayward, Jimmy Herring and T Lavitz
As announced on his website influential keyboard player T Lavitz passed away last Thursday. In late 1978, Lavitz was just 22 years old and a senior at the University of Miami’s School of Music when was invited to join the Dixie Dregs. He soon gained renown with the group and in 1981 was selected as Best New Talent by the readers of Keyboard magazine. Lavitz remained with that group through its break up in 1983 and then during its occasional reunions over the years. During the 1990s he also recorded and performed with Little Feat’s Paul Barrere, Catfish Hodge, Steve Smith and many others. In 1991 Lavitz appeared on Widespread Panic’s Capricorn Records debut and toured with that group throughout the year before rejoining the reformed Dregs. After a brief stint in Jefferson Starship during 1996, Lavitz founded Jazz Is Dead to interpret the music of the Grateful Dead in a jazz-flavored instrumental fashion, along with Jimmy Herring, Alphonso Johnson and Billy Cobham. Lavitz continued to work with Herring in a number of settings, including the Justice League and later Endangered Species with Richie Hayward and Kenny Gradney. As of late Lavitz had been teaching at the Berklee College of Music, while continuing to write and record. Electric was his most recent release.
For a bit more on Lavitz, take a look at his January 2000 interview with site editor Dean Budnick.