Since his VizzTone debut a few years ago, the multi-talented piano player Ben Levin has been making the rounds, playing in all sorts of configurations from making a record with Jimmy Reed Jr to touring with the Nick Moss Band. He’s most recently united with singing sensation Stella Heath for a cool jazz-blues session, and today VizzTone Label Group releases a four-song digital EP called Waiting Just For You to celebrate.
Ben and Stella met in March 2020, and while both artists were stuck at home during the early stages of the pandemic, they were inspired to collaborate and work on classic R&B duets from the 1950s. They recorded four duets virtually and the last one, “I’m Waiting Just For You” (a cover from a Lucky Millinder big band recording on the Cincinnati-based label King Records), was such a hit with Ben and Stella’s fans online that they decided to plan a show and a recording session. In April 2023, Ben and Stella finally had the opportunity to work together in person and played one sold out show in Cincinnati and spent one day in the studio.
They hired legendary Cincinnati jazz musicians Art Gore on drums (who has worked with artists such as George Benson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Lonnie Liston Smith) and Jim Anderson on bass (who has worked with artists such as Art Blakey, Ernestine Anderson, Hank Crawford). They also recorded a swinging Joe Liggins/Candy Rivers duet “One Sweet Letter” and two originals. “Too Good For Me” was originally written and recorded by Ben for his 2020 album Carryout Or Delivery which he re-arranged into a duet to sing with Stella. “To Know What Love Feels Like Again” is the last original which Ben co-wrote with a friend, based in the classic tradition of torch songs.
With Stella’s background in jazz and a love for blues, and Ben’s background in blues with a love for jazz, the two met musically in the middle. “Waiting Just For You” showcases four duets in a style where blues and jazz intersect to create a beautiful, classic sound.