January 22, 2017

Pete Levesque on living the dream and a musician’s harsh reality

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Courtesy Pete Levesque

Making music for a living can be a fine thing — except for the part about making a living.

So why do so many people choose it as a career?

For Pete Levesque, it is a lifelong commitment to constantly tune a noble craft … of practicing, learning, and sticking with it … of showing your skills to the world on large and small stages. But it requires facing truths about yourself and doing what needs to be done for your family.

His career choice started on the infamous “Choose Your Instrument Day” when he was in fourth grade in Pennsylvania.

“I chose the saxophone because it was nice and shiny and it looked good. I wasn’t interested in the trumpet. That looked like it was going to be too hard to learn, and the sax was definitely cooler-looking than a clarinet.”

His father’s Smithsonian Jazz Record Collection was his first inspiration. But it was the innovative sounds and playing speed of Ornette Coleman, the father of the free jazz movement of the 1960s, that converted him to an apostle of the instrument.

“I’d listen to him play tunes that had some really fast rhythm changes to it … I remember just laughing at the thought that someone could play that fast. That’s when I decided what I was going to do with my life. I was going to try to play like that,” Levesque said.


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