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Peter Leitch: Autobiography

Ken Franckling By

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Guitarist Peter Leitch, a fixture on the New York jazz scene since emigrating from his native Canada in 1983, plays with a graceful bop style informed with swing and, at times, fiery passion. He draws like-minded players to his bands and many studio projects, as evidenced on his newest recording on Reservoir Music. Autobiography is a collaboration with tenor sax and flautist Jed Levy, pianist George Cables, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Steve Johns.

"For D.T." gets things off to a strong start. Leitch wrote the tune for late Canadian saxophonist Don Thompson, with whom he worked before his move to the U.S. This version reveals the group's tight empathy. Note in particular Cables' strong comping behind intense soloing by Levy and Leitch, leading into his own rollicking solo. Henry Mancini's "Theme for Mr. Lucky" is familiar but rarely heard in a jazz setting. Its splendid up-tempo groove, showcasing Levy on flute and another intense Leitch solo, makes a fine lead-in to the fun burner "Segment" by Charlie Parker. The quintet handles the latter like a musical hot potato—and never drops it.

Leitch slows things down a tad with a "Little Girl Blue" and "Girl Talk" medley. The guitar does all of the "talking" as he solos on the first part and is joined only by Burno's impeccable bass work and a hint of Johns' brushes on the latter.

Leitch gives Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" a delightful calypso twist that showcases Johns' and Cables' grooving versatility. It's fun from start to finish. "Clifford Jordan" is another up-tempo ensemble piece, dedicated to a musician who Leitch says inspired him by his sound and commitment to the craft. "Femme Fatale" again features Levy on flute, which adds to its noirish mood. "East of the Sun" gives Leitch a chance to put a solo stamp on one of his favorite popular music standards.

The CD concludes with "Allyson," a spirited track reinforcing the one constant thing throughout this session. Even when he plays with fire, Leitch's splendid chord voicings give his playing a cool feel.

Track Listing: 1 For D. T. 8:34
2 Theme From Mr. Lucky 6:04
3 Segment 7:22
4 Medley: Little Girl Blue/Girl Talk 7:00
5 Ghosts 5:00
6 Clifford Jordan 7:09
7 Femme Fatale 7:09
8 East Of The Sun 5:58
9 Allyson 5:58

Personnel: Peter Leitch, guitar
Jed Levy, tenor saxophone, flute (#2, 7)
George Cables, piano
Dwayne Burno, bass
Steve Johns, drums

Title: Autobiography | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Reservoir Music


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