Time Machine - T Lavitz of the Dixie Dregs

The blazing keysmanship of T. Lavitz, who passed away on October 7 of this year, never failed to blow our minds.
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T. in our Nov. ’92 story on the Dregs reunion. Atop his Hammond is a Korg SG-1 stage piano; in the background is an Ensoniq VFX-SD.

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The blazing keysmanship of T. Lavitz, who passed away on October 7 of this year, never failed to blow our minds. Nor yours—in our readers’ poll, you voted him “Best New Talent” of 1981 and “Jazz Keyboardist of the Year” in 1994. Though he’ll always be best known by the high-powered rock/country/funk fusion of the Dixie Dregs, he also played with Jefferson Starship and Widespread Panic, and released several solo albums. In recent years, his passion for education found a home at Berklee College of Music, where he did a recurring summer residency as Artistic Director of the Rock Workshop.

Of his 1980 setup he said, “I think [the Prophet-5] is great for solo lines. . . . I use the OB-1 for solos when I want to face the violin player, Allen Sloan, so we can play melodies together or trade licks. The organ I use right now is a Crumar T1B. . . . I’d feel guilty coming in every day to a Hammond and a grand, knowing [the crew] would be there holding their aching backs.”

CLICK HERE for a tribute to T. Lavitz by members of the Dregs and his other musical peers through the years.

T.’s Dixie Dregs rig in 1980, clockwise from left: Conn StroboTuner and Oberheim OB-X atop Rhodes Suitcase with Dyno-My-Piano EQ, Echoplex tape delay and Sequential Prophet-5 atop Yamaha CP70 electric grand, Biamp mixer, Oberheim OB-1 atop Crumar T1B organ.

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The 1992 Dregs reunion, which sought to rescue real fusion from its descent into smooth jazz, saw the return of the Hammond B-3, which T. called “irreplaceable.” So is his playing—check out classic Dregs albums like Dregs of the Earth and Industry Standard, as well as T.’s just-released instructional DVD The Key. We’d say “rest in peace,” but in T.’s case, the more fitting farewell is, “Rock on!”