What the critics say
"David Leonhardt, an intense and swinging artist alert to every mood." Los Angeles Times
"The David Leonhardt Trio provided first rate jazz." Village Voice
“Leonhardt’s deft and airy piano touch, always romantic and brightly swinging” Jazz Times
“Leonhardt is an inventive stylist” Jazziz
"The superb David Leonhardt Trio...." New York Post
"Mr. Leonhardt on piano is also musical director. The troupe is fortunate to have him." New York Times
"...David Leonhardt, who played with ease, respect, and good cheer." San Francisco Chronicle
"Leonhardt explored the piece in a solo that showed his understanding of space as well as notes." New York Newsday
“Leonhardt andassociates are serious artists. When they sink into a groove and let the music carry them away, the audience is transported!” Star Ledger
"...a stellar rhythm section , featuring David Leonhardt on piano." Variety
"Backed by the superb David Leonhardt Trio, with expert and sensitive piano work by Leonhardt." Back Stage
Jazz Music Fulfills David Leonhardt
Todd Dawson, The Express Times
"Leonhardt relies on emaculate timing as his hands float over the keyboard like a hushed breeze."
Andrzej Pilarczyk, The Source
"Incredible pianist David Leonhardt galvanized the audience into waves of applause and a standing ovation! "
"This new self-published CD is the best in this genre I’ve heard this season!" John henry, Audiophile Audition
William Livingstone, Texaco.com
"Leonhardt himself enchants me."
The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Gershwin, David Leonhardt, piano.
Portland Jazz Reviews
"Leonhardt is an engaging pianist on his own. "
Jazz For Dancers
William Livingstone, Texaco.com
"The charming, sensuous style of Leonhardt transports me to that place Baudelaire wrote about in his poems."
Lucy Galliher, JazzNow.com
"David shines on the piano, and you've got a great rhythm section that cooks"
Mark Corroto, netjazz.com
"Gershwin when played as lovingly as David Leonhardt surely is welcome."
Plays Cole Porter
Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation
"“this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 out of 5”."
Plays Cole Porter
Susan Frances, Yahoo
"“Oscillating between peaceful and joyful, David Leonhardt shows a visceral understanding of Cole Porter's mindset. Refined and relaxing, Leonhardt's new recording has a loving touch..”"
Plays Cole Porter
Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition
"“Leonhardt’s playing ... is exemplary as he covers the keyboard with devilish fashion and flair.”"
Plays Cole Porter
Geannine Reid, ejazz news.com
"“What Leonhardt brings to the offering is his formidable talents as arranger, improviser, and band leader. Leonhardt truly has given these well traversed tunes a new sound. "
Stephanie Trottier, celebritycafe.com
"“The David Leonhardt Jazz Group has been gaining notoriety in New York for the pianist’s swift hands and the way he draws the music out of the instrument”"
Plays Cole Porter
Martin Z. Kasdan Jr., Louisville Music News
"David Leonhardt is a Louisville native who has made his mark accompanying jazz greats such as Jon Hendricks and David "Fathead" Newman"
Plays Cole Porter
D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Magazine
[Sep 26, 2012]
"His arrangements are juicy "
Wilbert Sostre, jazz Times
"Leonhardt’s well constructed improvisations"
Leonhardt’s piano is everywhere it should be
Bob Gish, Jazz Improv Magazine
" It’s a pleasure to come home to The David Leonhardt Jazz Group’s Santa’s bag full of traditional and familiar musical presents delivered in this far from ordinary CD."
A wonderful array of music for the glorious occasion of Xmas.
Albert Khalis Pride, The Jazz Nation
"I am loving your new CD, "I'll be Home For Christmas""
"They know just how much to twist a tune to brighten it up."
Christmas album with a personal twist!
Richard Bourcie, Jazz Review .com
"In the humble opinion of this reviewer, I'll Be Home For Christmas is the tastiest holiday album in recent years."
I'll Be Home for Christmas is classic in every sense of the word
Carol Swanson, Christmas Reviews .com
"Jazz aficionados will flip! "
I'll Be Home For Christmas
George W. Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman
"If you could rate CD reviews by kisses, I would have my lip marks all over this disc."
Dr. Gerry Grzyb, Christmas show
"WOW it is indeed "a great holiday release"."
David Leonhardt's recommended Christmas album
Jim Santella, All About Jazz
"He fashions each interpretation so that it stands out as an improvised work that the group can explore thoroughly."
In The Moment
Steven Loewy, All Music Guide to Jazz
"David Leonhardt once again shows why he is so well regarded among his peers!"
In The Moment
Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer
"a trio that plays a strong blend of Cadillac swing, full of long lines and swirling licks that give pleasure without pain. "
In The Moment
Herb Young, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors
"He is his own man, not a copist. "
Herb Young, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors
"This compact disc can rank up there with the best of them. "
tight, well-rehearsed trio
Steven Loewy, All Music Guide
"Pianist David Leonhardt once again shows why he is so well regarded among his peers."
Jazz For Kids
Jazz Podium Germany
"Jazz For Kids is well done. Not just for kids!"
Jazz For Kids
Karl Stark, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Many parents would love to find a way to interest their children in jazz."
Jazz For Kids
Frank Rubolino, Cadence
"...upbeat, straight-ahead style!"
Fantastic Jazz Concert
"...a staple of the New York jazz scene."
Daniel Shearer, Time Off
"We got a great response from the album..."
World Class Jazz
Kathleen Daminger, Lancaster New Era
"..this jazz man’s performance is a bit different than most..."
A Grand Night For Jazz
"Leonhardt filled the air with the velvety tones and toe tapping melodies that would have made Gershwin nod with approval."
Deer Head Jazz
Bill Falconer, Jazzreview.com
"David Leonhart is a creative soloist and an intuitive and sympathetic accompanist."
Dave Nathan, All About Jazz
"It is the lyrical pianism of David Leonhardt which lifts this album."
A Time For Love - piano and vocal duets
"How wonderful romantic American standards can sound when lovingly performed."
A Time For Love - piano and vocal duets
Cadence Review of Jazz & Blues
"If I should be so lucky as to stumble into a piano bar with these folks purveying songs, I'd stay till closing"
A Time For Love - piano and vocal duets
Pete Pappalardo, Pocono Record
"A collection of standards with an elegant simplicity and impeccable scoring that gently recommends the songs to the listener's attention."
The Laser Disc Gazette
"Pensive, sultry, mellow jazz, played boldly"
David Zych, Jazz Times
"The result? Total success. It is one of Leonhardt's finest offerings."
Das Musikmagazin, Germany
"Leonhardt play so sensitively that each tone resounds with a fresh coloration."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Reflections has lots of crystalline moments; the trio shoot for beauty and often achieve it."
"What each of these artists have in common is a love melody, precisely what Leonhardt brings to the table on his impressive debut as leader, Departure."
Super Concert lives up to billing at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival
Randal McIlrov, Winnipeg Free Press
"Leonhardt was just astounding on piano."
Leonhardt moves to center stage
Curt Yeske, Trenton Times
"Yet the 37-year-old native of Louisville had an artistic yearning for something more..."
Leonhardt is doing just fine in the jazz world
Gene Williams, Louisville Courier-Journal
"...Leonhardt chuckled as he recalled his audition with Jon Hendricks..."
The Abso!ute Sound
"There's an urgency, an intimacy that both invites and demands that one listen to the rest"
Tim Blangger, Disc Reviews
"In the liner notes, Leonhardt writes that many of these tunes were recorded on the first takes; that freshness comes across."
"A fine debut as a leader by the experienced pianist who's already made a name for himself"
Cadence Review of Jazz & Blues
"He has a sensitivity and ease that puts him in the same category as Kenny Barron and Roland Hanna."
Playing Music Without Limits
The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre
"Influenced by artists such as Miles Davis and intrigued by the idea of musical improvisation, he knew right away he'd found a new love."
Jazz All-Stars Coalesce at Lafayette College
Tim Blangger, The Morning Call, Allentown
"True to his intentions, pianist David Leonhardt gathered together four other all-star jazz players Wednesday night at Lafayette College."
Leonhardt and "Fathead" Newman
George Kanzler, The Star Ledger
"The tunes that Leonhardt's trio played prior to Newman taking the stage got the crowd up and moving."
Critic Reviews Full
David Leonhardt is a Louisville native who has made his mark accompanying jazz greats such as Jon Hendricks and David "Fathead" Newman. In the September 2010 Louisville Jazz Society Newsletter , I reviewed his Bach to the Blues. The new CD's title clearly states its raison d'etre. The music of Cole Porter has, of course, provided grist for the mill of jazz artists for some eight decades now. By choosing to credit "The David Leonhardt Jazz Group," Leonhardt shares credit with his accompanists, as well as varying the sound by sometimes performing in a trio context, while at other times spotlighting the saxophone of Larry McKenna, and at other times adding vocals by Nancy Reed. Matthew Parrish on bass and Paul Wells on drums round out the group.
The disc opens with a "power trio" version of "Love for Sale." They slow the pace with "Every Time We Say Goodbye," with vocal and a warm tenor solo. Among the other selections, Leonhardt's arranging skills are evident, as he gives a bossa nova feel to "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," and imbues the ballad treatment of "I Concentrate on You" with a Latin feel. Conversely, the normally gentle "In the Still of the Night" is taken for a fast ride. In short, as many times as so many of these tunes have been interpreted over the decades, Leonhardt and company still find a way to keep Porter's music fresh. One hopes Leonhardt can find a way to return to his home town to perform again for us. He is always a delight.
Louisville Music News-Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.
Almost every jazz musician has visited the works of Cole Porter and this is pianist David Leonhardt's take. His arrangements are juicy with varied pace and lots of modulation. They open with a racy instrumental version of "Love For Sale"' that sets the stage for a great set! Larry McKenna (sax), Matthew Parrish (b) and Paul Wells (d) round out the quartet that expands to 5 with singer Nancy Reed. Enjoyable and energetic, it works!
O's Place Jazz Magazine D. Oscar Groomes
Time is precious to David Leonhardt. Not only does there seem to little of it for the multi-talented jazz pianist, arranger, and composer, but it's also at the heart of both his playing and his latest recording.
As with the best of jazz musicians, Leonhardt, who's been playing more than a quarter of a century. relies on emaculate timing as his hands float over the keyboard like a hushed breeze. When he plays such gems as "The Very Thought Of You" or the haunting "If You Never Come To Me" his notes linger, the space between them long enough for deep sighs and kisses. It's playing with studied passion and measured grace.
On his latest album "A Time For Love" Leonhardt is paired with jazz stylist Nancy Reed whose vocals have a timeless quality, rich and full like a dark burgundy. Together the two cover classic love tunes with spare arrangements that emphasize Reed's burnished vocals and Leonhardt's lithe and supple playing.
Listening to the 14 cuts of "A Time For Love" as Reed's Voice and Leonhardt's playing seem to fuse together, It is hard not to believe that the time is right for David Leonhardt. Certainly the time is right for jazz fans seeking a musician who loves his craft.
The Express Times Todd Dawson
When incredible pianist David Leonhardt's Trio took part in last year's "Lake George Jazz Weekend," he galvanized the audience into waves of applause and a standing ovation! Departure, on Big Band Records, finds Leonhardt's adventurous spirit launching a musical journey past the stereotypical labels associated with music. The seven originals and three rearranged standards showcase the impressive piano mastery of this musician's musician. Through his many years as both a pianist and an arranger, with jazz vocal legend, Jon Hendricks and saxophonist, David "Fathead" Newman, among other notables, Leonhardt has emerged with a phenomenal recording. Assembling an all-star crew, including trumpeter Eddie Henderson and trombonist Robin Eubanks, David presents a mature and serious outing worth seeking out.
The Source Andrzej Pilarczyk
There’s plenty of jazz Christmas albums out there. But this new self-published CD is the best in this genre I’ve heard this season so far. Leonhardt says in the notes that his band has been together for some years and plays these tunes every holiday season. (I empathize: at this time of year I like to play the only one I do a jazz version of - We Three Kings.) His enjoyment of them comes thru - I don’t get the feeling this disc came about due to pressure from his record company (since there isn’t any, really). McKenna is a fine saxist, and although I tend to prefer all-instrumental Christmas jazz, Nancy Reed’s a good vocalist in these standards. The sound is thoroughly professional.
Audiophile Audition John Henry
My recent survey of jazz is not just a stroll down Memory Lane. Taking a cue from Jazz at Lincoln Center, I want to swing into the twenty-first century, and I’ve discovered a few new jazz musicians whose work I enjoy. The pianist David Leonhardt is one of them.
Liner notes point out that Leonhardt has thirty years of professional experience in recordings, TV, and radio, having played in North and South America, the Near and Middle East, and at fancy venues in France, Italy, Canada, and China. Okay, okay, so he’s been around. He’s still new to me. I find that his new CD The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Gershwin (Big Bang Records 9569) is charming and lighthearted, and it lifts my spirits. He has good sidemen on bass, sax, and drums and a good vocalist in Nancy Reed, but it is the solo work of pianist Leonhardt himself that enchants me. His rendition of Gershwin’s But Not for Me will spur me to find more Leonhardt recordings.
texaco.com William Livingstone
In case you are not familiar with him, David Leonhardt is a very swinging and articulate pianist who honors the Gershwin Song book this time out. If you were to prepare a Gershwin's Greatest Hits list you'd have to include But Not For Me, I've Got A Crush On You, They Can't Take That Away from me, Lady Be good and S'Wonderful. These are the instrumental selections featuring Leonhardt's trio of Paul Rostock on bass and Tom Melito on drums with guest tenorman Ralph Lalama showing why he's so well thought of on a few tunes. Singer Nancy Reed is featured on Summertime, The Man I love How Long Has This Been Going on, A Foggy Day, Embraceable You and Our Love Is Here To Stay. There is no doubt she has a lovely voice and handles this assignment with style and feeling. That said, I must admit I find Leonhardt to be an engaging pianist on his own.
Portland Jazz Reviews Todd Barley
While writing about jazz, I discovered a recording by the pianist, arranger, and conductor David Leonhardt that gave me great pleasure. Called The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Gershwin (Big Bang Records 9569), it appealed to me in a way that few other jazz recordings do. Featuring Nancy Reed on vocals and excellent side men, it is a recital of familiar Gershwin tunes like The Man I Love, How Long Has This Been Going On, I Got Rhythm, and so forth. The track I kept going back to was But Not for Me. I can’t explain why it enchanted me so.
I wrote that I’d like to hear more of Leonhardt’s work, and since then I have acquired three of his other CD’s all from Big Bang Records. A Time for Love is a collection of vocal and piano duets with Nancy Reed and Leonhardt. It’s a well-planned program of familiar tunes (Someone to Watch Over Me, Too Marvelous, The Very Thought of You, etc.) and unfamiliar songs. I like Nancy Reed’s style. She reminds me of a jazz singer I know named Devora.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on jazz, and so I am not sure whether the work of Leonhardt and his colleagues can accurately be called “cool” jazz, but I know that it does not have the loud aggressive tone of hard bop. Jazz for Dancers by the David Leonhardt Trio is a collection of hit standards – Blues in the Night, Over the Rainbow, Strike Up the Band, and so forth – played in a way that emphasizes their rhythmic diversity as well as their melodies.
Reflections by the David Leonhardt Trio is a similar instrumental collection with fewer well-known selections. This recital, however, has the same enchanting quality that made me keep playing But Not for Me on the Gershwin CD. The power of music to transport a listener to another place, time, and emotional state has always intrigued me. The charming, sensuous style of Leonhardt’s Reflections transports me to that place Baudelaire wrote about in his poem L’invitation au voyage, a place where “nothing exists but order and beauty/Luxury, peace, and pleasure.” Do you wonder why I keep playing that disc?
texaco.com William Livingstone
t's nice to have a theme for a CD, in this case, paying homage to one composer. Using musicians Ralph LaLama on sax, Paul Rostock on bass, and Tom Melito on drums, pianist David Leonhardt picked an all-Gershwin program for this project. Nancy Reed was the featured vocalist, with whom he has previously recorded.
One would think a tune like "Summertime" would have been done so many ways that it would be impossible to do anything new with it. Yet this band still manages to come up with something different. Nancy sings smoothly on "Summertime" in a mellow voice, scatting an arranged line during the shout chorus. The band plays a tasteful introduction, and keeps on swinging all the way through this familiar standard. "But Not For Me," an instrumental played with a comfortable bossa-nova tempo, shows Leonhardt's adeptness in a piano trio. Going into a vamp on a tag that gradually fades out is very pleasant.
The third track, "The Man I Love," continues with the talents of Nancy Reed on vocals. One can tell that David has a lot of experience backing up singers; remember, he worked with Jon Hendricks for four years. Other selections include a samba version of "How Long Has This Been Going On?" where Ralph can't wait to take a smokin' tenor solo, a piano feature on `They Can't Take That Away From Me," and great scatting on "Anthropology," the Charlie Parker number which is based on "I Got Rhythm." I like the order of songs on the album: "S'Wonderful" is followed by a relaxed "Our Love is Here to Stay."
David shines on the piano, Ralph soars on the tenor, and you've got a great rhythm section that stays in the background and cooks. By picking a tasteful vocalist such as Nancy Reed, David Leonhardt allows the listener to enjoy some easygoing pleasurable Jazz.
JazzNow.com Lucy Galliher
The release of another all-Gershwin record might not be necessary, but when played as lovingly as David Leonhardt surely is welcome. Leonhardt, a veteran of David ‘Fathead’ Newman’s band, has worked with, among others Jon Hendricks, Herbie Mann and Ron Carter. This release, his fifth as leader, remains close to the Gershwin compositions. And why not? Gershwin’s tunes (popular music of their day) were/are perfectly formed melodies. They conjure memories of Broadway shows and great performances. How can one not think about Gershwin music performed by Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and Gil Evans? I mention those jazz giant just for starters.
Leonhardt’s choice of music opens himself to the obvious comparisons, that, I believe is why he takes on this music in such a straight-forward manner, giving it all the respect it’s due. Leonhardt mixes the music between a trio and quartet, adding vocalist Nancy Reed on half the tracks. Ms. Reed plays it straight too, delivering the familiar with her conversant manner. She scats out the “beat-a-lee bop” to Leonhardt’s dancing piano fingers on “I Got Rhythm,” before tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama takes a solo straight out of the Blue Note catalog. Did I mention Lalama is on this date? He is perhaps the perennial ‘talent deserving wider recognition’ award recipient. His recording Music For Grown-Ups (Criss Cross 1999) is a favorite around these parts. His work with the Village Vanguard Orchestra and as a sideman has earned him the title of a musician’s musician.
Leonhardt utilizes Lalama as a side dish, as he does Reed and his own piano. The main course here is the Gershwin compositions. Whether they take “Our Love Is here To Stay” at a slow pace or uptempo “Summertime,” the band stays true to the compositions.
netjazz.com Mark Corroto
“this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 out of 5”.
Improvijazzation Nation Rotcod Zzaj
Pianist David Leonhardt produces a meaningful tribute to Cole Porter on his latest endeavor The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Cole Porter from Big Bang Records. Though Leonhardt maintains the basic framework of Porter's seminal pieces such as "Night and Day" and "I've Got You Under My Skin", he tweaks them to appeal to an adult contemporary audience.
Tracks that have become American keepsakes since their origin over sixty years ago are not only preserved by Leonhardt's quintet but are also treated as new pieces of music that can be molded and groomed to bring out the warm ethers of Larry McKenna's saxophone and the lithesome rise and falls of Leonhardt's keys. The rhythmic pulsing of bassist Matthew Parish and drummer Paul Wells soften the bouncing notes of Leonhardt's keys while vocalist Nancy Reed injects a sensual stroking along the platitudes of "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and "Night and Day".
The percolating twits of the saxophone dotting "In the Still of the Night" spice up the upbeat tempo and mollifies to a smooth strut across "Every Time We Say Goodbye". The ruffling of the keys crisscrossing through the phrases of "Just One of Those Things" produces a ballroom ambience and the gentle flow of Leonhardt's notes looping through "Love for Sale" induce a deep-seeded longing. The sedate shuffling of the piano keys along "I Love You" switch to a trotting tempo in "It's All Right with Me" while the bluesy atmospheric of "I Concentrate on You" twinkle with a nocturnal glow. The bass pumps of "Get out of Town" climb up and down the coiling keys and cradle the soft silhouettes of the saxophone along "All of You".
Oscillating between peaceful and joyful, David Leonhardt shows a visceral understanding of Cole Porter's mindset. Refined and relaxing, Leonhardt's new recording has a loving touch that Cole Porter has been known for possessing and propels these tracks into modern times.
Yahoo Susan Frances
William McBrien in his biography of Cole Porter quotes Walter Clemons on Cole Porter: ”The complexity of Porter’s best work sets him somewhat apart from the other great songwriters of the first half of the century…a Porter song is a luxury item, expensively made and extravagantly rhymed.” It is not surprising then, that almost every jazz and pop artist has recorded at least one Porter tune and others, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, devoted entire albums to all of Porter’s songs.
The two songs which offer the most interest are those which bracket the song list, namely “Love for Sale” and “Get Out Of Town”, both of which are done by the trio of Leonhardt, Parrish and Wells. In the case of the former, the tune features some interesting time signatures, and then there is the straight-ahead version of the latter song. Leonhardt’s playing in both cases is exemplary as he covers the keyboard with devilish fashion and flair.
Joining the trio for five instrumental selections is saxophonist Larry McKenna who hails from Philadelphia. Although his playing is agreeable, “I Concentrate On You” is nicely delivered. While the arrangements and production values provided by David Leonhardt are first rate.
Audiophile Audition Pierre Giroux
Renditions of Cole Porter’s classics have been explored on many jazz albums throughout the ages. So how does a musician take this concept and make a standout concept. The answer is exhibited in the latest release by veteran pianist David Leonhardt.
Cole Porter’s music is clearly a favorite for many jazz and standards enthusiasts. What Leonhardt brings to the offering is his formidable talents as arranger, improviser, and band leader. The supporting cast of Larry McKenna on saxophone, considered a jazz great who has recorded with such other jazz icons as, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and beyond. Bassist, Matthew Parrish whose resume also includes jazz icons Clark Terry, and Marian McPartland. Drummer Paul Wells brings to the table a modern flavor that melds the tradition of swing and the rhythmic sensibilities of modern jazz. Adding one of the finest interpreters of lyrics Nancy Reed to the mix creates fresh interpretations to these timeless gems.
“Love for Sale” christens the opening with a trio setting featuring Leonhardt, Parish and Wells; the trio gives this classic tune its own time signature in six, lending a frolicking romp rhythmically to the cut.
“Night and Day” is given a bluesy shuffle feel with a 6/8 undercurrent, vocalist Nancy Reed is featured on this cut, and her stylings give it an authentic and soulful reading. McKenna, Leonhardt and Reed share a piano soli, which uplifts the solo section to add interest.
“You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” is conveyed with a bossa nova feel. Nancy Reed uses an inflection of micro-tones to embellish the melody, giving the cut a feeling of tension and release.
“Get Out of Town” ends this satisfying journey. Parrish lends his nimble lines in the intro, while Leonhardt tastefully colors with stabs and Wells keeps the swing well oiled. Leonhardt states the melody with block chords that lend itself to a smooth transition of arpeggios. This cut offers a truly delightful interaction between the musicians.
Leonhardt’s abilities as a player, composer and arranger are up to the task with this wonderful tribute album of Cole Porter tunes. Not just another rehash, Leonhardt truly has given these well traversed tunes a new sound.
ejazz news.com Geannine Reid
“The David Leonhardt Jazz Group has been gaining notoriety in New York for the pianist’s swift hands and the way he draws the music out of the instrument”
celebritycafe.com Stephanie Trottier
On his new album pianist David Leonhardt pays tribute to one of the most prolific American composers, Cole Porter. It is hard to choose among all the Cole Porter wonderful compositions, but Porter fans will be more than satisfied with Leonhardt’s selection and arrangements of these classics.
The release starts in a trio format of piano, bass and drums and constant tempo changes in "Love for Sale". For the second track, "Every Time We Say Goodbye", the trio turns into a quintet with the addition of Larry Mckenna on saxophone and Nancy Reed on vocals. Reed’s tone on vocals has some similarities with other modern jazz singers like Diana Krall. Mckenna adds some good improvisations a la Lester Young on this one, and the next track "Just One of Those Days".
Nancy Reed brings a certain coolness to her phrasing in "Night and Day" and "I've Got You Under My Skin", perfect for these songs most people recognize in the voice of the king of cool, Frank Sinatra.
Leonhardt’s well constructed improvisations may be fully appreciated especially in the instrumental tracks, "In the Still of the Night", "It's All Right With Me" and the bossa "I Concentrate on You”.
jazz Times Wilbert Sostre
In a season of upside-down Christmas trees and a topsy-turvy world, it’s a pleasure to come home to The David Leonhardt Jazz Group’s Santa’s bag full of traditional and familiar musical presents delivered in this far from ordinary CD.
Sure, all the old “chestnuts” are here, including “The Christmas Song” and the title cut, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” along with a baker’s dozen of the other seasonal sound goodies which we invariably come home to this time every year.
Admittedly, such a holiday trip is at times tiring, and just like heading for grandma’s house or the mall, maybe a bit routine; however, Leonhardt, Reed, and company liven up the journey this time around, and, in effect, spike the festivities with some zing to the songs and the singing.
Reed’s vocals are no mere stocking stuffers. This is apparent from the first track where her deep throated resonance takes command, announcing that we’re in for some classy renderings to follow. The snow of “Let it Snow” melts a bit under the Latin warmth of “Winter Wonderland” and the instrumental blending of her background harmonizing in the exotic arrangement of “We Three Kings” and the swinging “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” No one can resist her romantic and convincing salutation in “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” done with such reassurance as to make every Ebenezer out there reciprocate in kind. “Okay,” is all one can say to her jazzy admonitions in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “If you’ll continue to scat along with him.” “Sleigh Ride,” although beginning as something of a “Little Drummer Boy” march soon turns into another showcase for Reed’s voice as smooth-gliding unison instrument. Such mellifluence holds true throughout, including a be-bopy “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
Leonhardt’s piano is everywhere it should be, often times where it’s unexpected, but always with an ear to exquisite ensemble playing. From the lilting renditions of “O, Christmas Tree” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear;” to the surprising cha, cha, chas of “Jingle Bells;” and the shinning textures of “The Christmas Song” and “White Christmas;” and all the obbligatos in between, Leonhardt compactly delivers here on the promises of his celebrated Winter Holiday Jazz Concert program. His share and share alike Christmas spirit is confirmed, too, in his duets with Larry McKenna, featured on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (with sterling interplay between piano and sax), as well as “Frosty the Snowman.” Taro Okamoto’s solo and fours on “White Christmas” especially along with Matthew Parrish’s steady bass lines uniformly enhance the ensemble.
HangI’ll Be Home for Christmason the tree, top or bottom, or just wrap it up. You can forget the bow though; it’s pretty enough by itself.
Jazz Improv Magazine Bob Gish
I am loving
your new CD, "I'll be Home For Christmas"...The
arrangements are brilliant..
Wonderful job from start to finish. Your CD's going to
get the highest rating available in my system, and
when I go back on the air next weekend, this CD's
going to get airtime for the entire month of December,
maybe a good chunk of January and February, as long as
the weather's cold, why not?
The Jazz Nation Albert Khalis Pride
“A pushing the speed limit “Sleigh Ride”. ...The ensemble’s tight, rhythmically vibrant sound.
.....a newfallen snow freshness to “Let It Snow”
They know just how much to twist a tune to brighten it up.
...solos that glide gracefully along...”
Cadence Magazine John Bass
Pennsylvania pianist, David Leonhardt, offers jazz fans a traditional Christmas album with a personal twist. Leonhardt is a highly polished musician with fresh ideas. It's a difficult task to plan an album of holiday favorites without echoing the recorded efforts of others.
The pianist comes from a thirty year career during which he performed with such diverse talents as Buddy DeFranco, Slide Hampton, Dave Leibman, Buddy Tate and Diane Reeves. Stanley Turrentine, Hank Crawford and David "Fathead" Newman are among the people who recorded Leonhardt's compositions.
Saxophonist, Larry McKenna, has been a part of the Philly jazz scene for five decades and his experience is not wasted here. McKenna delivers the prettiest reading I've ever heard of the title tune. His silky smooth tones compel the listener play the track over again.
Vocalist, Nancy Reed, adds some fire to the group's "Sleigh Ride." This rendition will melt the snow! The Brooklyn raised vocalist is the child of a jazz pianist and an opera singer. Reed's vocals are outstanding throughout the CD but "Let It Snow" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" are special. Nancy Reed swings, no matter the tempo.
David Leonhardt is certainly a member of the "cool" school and his arrangements are paramount in making this project "work" as well as it does. The rhythm section includes bassist Matthew Parrish who presently appears with violinist Regina Carter. He has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Marian McPartland and Harry "Sweets" Edison. Drummer, Taro Okamato, a 20-year veteran of the New York scene comes from a background with Hank Jones, Warne Marsh and Duke Jordan. "White Christmas" offers a swinging example of Leonhardt, Parrish and Okamoto on fire.
In the humble opinion of this reviewer, I'll Be Home For Christmas is the tastiest holiday album in recent years.
Jazz Review .com Richard Bourcie
I'll Be Home for Christmas is classic in every sense of the word. First, the David Leonhardt Jazz Group is a classic jazz ensemble of the highest order; everything about it exudes superb musicianship. These five talented artists (David Leonhardt on piano, Nancy Reed providing vocals, Larry McKenna on sax, Matthew Parrish on bass, and Taro Okamoto on drums) are consummate professionals, meshing comfortably like one seamless organism. The music selection is also classic; the 15 pieces on this generous (over an hour of music!) album cover a broad range of largely secular favorites. And the sound is naturally class jazz, through and through!
Five of the 15 cuts have vocals, and Nancy Reed's mellow, soulful stylings add just the right touch. She is especially fine on the richly rewarding "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and on the delightfully rhythmic "Sleigh Ride" (great drumming!). The David Leonhardt Jazz Group does everything extremely well, so designating "Top Hits" is extremely tough. Even so, the most memorable moments for me included the syncopated, samba-soaked "Jingle Bells," the exotic "We Three Kings" with jammin' piano improvisations, and the superb sax melody on the title track "I'll Be Home for Christmas." It's all good.
Jazz aficionados will flip for the David Leonhardt Jazz Group's I'll Be Home for Christmas . It's a classic!
Christmas Reviews .com Carol Swanson
If you could rate CD reviews by kisses, I would have my
lip marks all over this disc. David Leonhardt has created something special for us to be edified by.....And, the frosting is his choice of the fine talents of one Nancy Reed, jazz singer extraordinaire. The CD features some of the more traditional Christmas songs, but delivered very different & tastefully. As a fellow jazz singer, might I compliment Nancy's wonderfully controlled pop-jazz vibrato which she uses with panache, giving the songs her unique interpretation. Overall, the group delivers their music with a relaxed rhythmic feeling, executed with care, discipline, frivolity, dignity & assertiveness........And last, subtle in it's musical power.
The Musicians' Ombudsman George W. Carroll
I had a chance to listen to the David Leonhart - WOW it is indeed "a
great holiday release". I can't think when I've heard a better
Christmas album - really nice!. I do love it and will ultimately
shower it with attention.
Christmas shows Gerry Grzyb
With a casual atmosphere that recalls long winter evenings at your favorite nightclub, David Leonhardt and his musical partners interpret this program of holiday favorites in the jazz tradition. The pianist brings a warm glow to each song. They're exciting, and yet Leonhardt manages to put more into each piece than is usually found this time of the year. He fashions each interpretation so that it stands out as an improvised work that the group can explore thoroughly. Together, they turn over clusters of brightness that come surrounded by a hearty rhythmic foundation.
With “Jingle Bells,” for example, the pianist turns loose a cannonade of keyboard attacks over a natural New Orleans shuffle rhythm. The trio makes this one fit the season with images of holiday cheer and outdoor fun. “I'll Be Home for Christmas” strikes a somber chord as Larry McKenna's tenor delivers the featured melody convincingly.
Nancy Reed is featured on five of the album's fifteen tracks with a proud voice that coats each of these traditional holiday favorites with jazz attire. She interprets lyrics convincingly and scat sings with authority. Not merely a vocal interpreter, Reed serves as a vital member of the group, adding her voice to the mix as a representative instrument from the jazz community.
David Leonhardt's recommended Christmas album provides adventurous interpretations of favorite holiday songs with a welcome jazz spirit that carries through the entire year.
All About Jazz Jim Santella
Leading a tight, well-rehearsed trio through a mix of originals and well-known pieces from the modern Jazz repertoire, pianist David Leonhardt once again shows why he is so well regarded among his peers. Best known for his Jazz for Kids concerts (which he has documented on disk), the pianist quietly pursues his craft with a loving touch, producing some very fine results. Leonhardt is not a showman on this recording, but a thoughtful, gracious soloist, one who exudes good taste with nearly every phrase. He is helped considerably by bassist Tony Marino and drummer Taro Okamoto, each of whom seems to fit perfectly in the pianist’s world. Leonhardt exudes confidence without conceit: He knows where he is going and he plays with a directness that sucks in the listener. If he is not innovative it is because he is not trying to be: his performances are imbued with order, a sort of ontological certitude. The results are enjoyable and swinging music that does not call attention to itself, the sort that can serve as relaxing background fare. Influences such as Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, and Cecil Walton come to mind, as Leonhardt pursues a vision that while not overly ambitious, achieves a level of sophistication and emotion that is not entirely common, the kind that is perfect for late night listening, with the lights turned low.
All Music Guide to Jazz Steven Loewy
He played for six years in saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman's quintet and four years backing singer Jon Hendricks, the master of vocalese, or putting words to jazz solos. He also has introduced thousands of children to jazz, and has recorded specially for tap dancers. And, as he shows here, Easton, Pa., pianist David Leonhardt leads a trio that plays a strong blend of Cadillac swing, full of long lines and swirling licks that give pleasure without pain.
This trio recording is a straight-ahead affair with few surprises except good taste. Leonhardt, who studied with jazz educator Jamey Aebersold and served as musical director for the Manhattan Tap troupe, is an easy guy to dance to. Six of nine tunes are originals, and they are highly approachable, as is Leonhardt's Jazz for Kids disc. Drummer Taro Okamoto and bassist Tony Marino provide the slick locomotion for Leonhardt's amiable style.
Philadelphia Inquirer Karl Stark
"In The Moment" is quite different. The music here is very much in the
Bill Evans vein. Leonhardt is quick to admit that Bill Evans was a big influence on him.
The tunes, for the most part, are originals by the leader. The trio functions much in the
same way as the trios did led by Mr. Evans, that is very much integrated. They compliment
each other beautifully. One would not mistake Mr. Leonhardt's touch with that of Mr. Evans.
If anything, Bill Evans had a softer touch but this is not to take anything away from Dave. He
is his own man, not a copist.
Both of these albums are recommended. . Do yourself a favor and get in touch with this very personable artist
International Association of Jazz Record Collectors Herb Young
3 stars (good)
Leading a tight, well-rehearsed trio through a mix of originals and well-known pieces from the modern Jazz repertoire, pianist David Leonhardt once again shows why he is so well regarded among his peers. Best known for his Jazz for Kids concerts (which he has documented on disk), the pianist quietly pursues his craft with a loving touch, producing some very fine results. Leonhardt is not a showman on this recording, but a thoughtful, gracious soloist, one who exudes good taste with nearly every phrase. He is helped considerably by bassist Tony Marino and drummer Taro Okamoto, each of whom seems to fit perfectly in the pianist’s world. Leonhardt exudes confidence without conceit: He knows where he is going and he plays with a directness that sucks in the listener. If he is not innovative it is because he is not trying to be: his performances are imbued with order, a sort of ontological certitude. The results are enjoyable and swinging music that does not call attention to itself, the sort that can serve as relaxing background fare. Influences such as Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, and Cecil Walton come to mind, as Leonhardt pursues a vision that while not overly ambitious, achieves a level of sophistication and emotion that is not entirely common, the kind that is perfect for late night listening, with the lights turned low. Steven Loewy -All Music Guide
All Music Guide Steven Loewy
David Leonhardt Jazz Group Jazz For Kids is a fantastic CD with world class musicians.
Well Done, Good material,
Not just for kids!
Jazz Podium Germany
Many parents would love to find a way to interest their children in jazz. But strong action could have the opposite effect. Easton, Pa., pianist David Leonhardt solves this dilemma by assembling a set of familiar tunes, such as the traditional “This Old Man” and TV’s Flinstones theme, and putting a jazz kick to them. It helps that Leonhardt picks the services of tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna, whose smooth and dreamy style ranks as one of the region’s cultural assets. Singer Nancy Reed, drummer Tara Okamoto, and bassist Tony Marino help create a set that swings without condescending to its young audience. More overt humor might have helped here. The good thing, though, is that more mature folks may treasure this if the intended audience sniffs at it.
The Philadelphia Inquirer Karl Stark
The Leonhardt Jazz Group features Reed singing songs typically associated with children’s playgrounds, plus some straight instrumental offerings by the quartet. They are all presented in a swinging manner. Leonhardt guides the program from the piano chair, and the band gets into a steady groove with its upbeat, straight-ahead style. Saxophonist McKenna lays down some mellow licks, and the rhythm section sets the lively pace for these delightful excursions that reflect on childhood dreams. Reed follows the melody line with her vocals, but she takes off with frequent rounds of scatting. She uses altered phrasing as well to get into the Jazz mold very convincingly. While the approach is traditional, with Leonhardt or McKenna improvising during the vocal breaks and Okamoto and Marino keeping the standard time, the session has an uplifting quality. Leonhardt is on a mission to attract young people to this music, and he is doing it by offering them songs they recognize. The audience may be youthful, but there is nothing childish about this performance that is suited to adults as well.
Cadence Frank Rubolino
Over the past 25 years, David Leonhardt has become one of the most respected composers in jazz, but he’ll be playing nothing but covers Thursday at the University of Scranton’s Eagen Auditorium. The seasoned, versatile pianist and his group will perform “An Evening of Gershwin” in two shows presented by Scranton Community Concerts. Shows are at 6 and 8:30pm in the auditorium, which will be transformed into a candlelit cabaret. Catered dinners will also be offered at 6:30 and 8:30pm at the Scranton Estate on campus. A long-time veteran of television and radio, concerts and festivals, night clubs and stage shows, Mr. Leonhardt has appeared internationally throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle and Far East. He recently arranged and recorded the No. 1 jazz CD, “Under a Woodstock Moon” with saxophonist David Newman and appeared with flautist Herbie Mann and bassist Ron Carter on the CD, “Celebration.” Mr. Leonhardt got his start as a teenager in Louisville, Kentucky, playing and studying with noted educator Jamey Aebersold and backing such diverse jazz talents as Buddy Defranco, Dave Liebman and Buddy Tate. He moved to New York in his 20s and quickly established himself as an international performing artist, touring for four years as pianist for jazz legend Jon Hendricks. He spent six years as a member of the “Fathead” Newman Quintet, which made him a staple of the New York jazz scene. He went on to co-lead a band, recording three CDs for the Muse label and performing in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. In 1993, he founded Big Bang Records and released his first CD, “Departure” to critical acclaim. He was musical director for the dance group Manhattan Tap for three years and is now the musical director and arranger for The Muhlenberg Jazz Tap Ensemble. A respected educator, Mr. Leonhardt gives clinics worldwide and writes for the magazine, “Piano Today”. He has twice been the Artist in Residence at Lafayette College and is on the roster of The Pennsylvania Arts On Tour. Area students ages 8-12 will have an opportunity to meet Mr. Leonhardt and his band at a “Jazz For Kids Seminar,” Thursday at 4 pm at the Eagen Auditorium. The seminar is free, but reservations are required.
Mr. Leonhardt formed his current band in 1993, the same year he established his record label, Big Bang Records. The group has performed stateside at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, the Blue Note and Birdland in Manhattan, as well as international appearances at the International Arts Festival of Shenzen, China, the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, and Maison de Dance in Lyon, France. Matthew Parrish, a Yardley resident, has played bass with many musicians, notably the late trombonist Al Grey and violinist Regina Carter. Larry McKenna, a longtime Philadelphia resident, got his start performing with Woody Herman’s big band and over the next four decades established himself as a skilled saxophonist, arranger and educator. Drummer Taro Okamoto, a native of Osaka, Japan, met Mr. Leonhardt in New York in the early ‘80s and has regularly performed there for the last 20 years. Vocalist Nancy Reed hails from Brooklyn, NY, and lives in the Poconos. To date, Mr. Leonhardt has released 11 albums on Big Bang Records, including The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Gershwin, with solid recordings of “A Foggy Day,” “S’ Wonderful” and “But Not for Me,” among others. “To me, doing obscure Gershwin almost misses the point of it,” Mr. Leonhardt says. “We got a great response from the album, and that’s why we do these Gershwin concerts. It’s recognizable material. People like it when they can relate to it, and it’s beautiful stuff. “ “The hardest thing is to do something that people will find fresh and musical, as opposed to just playing in a cabaret kind of cocktail way. That’s the danger when you go into a really overdone songbook like Gershwin, but I think we’ve succeeded, at least, that’s what the reviewers say.”
Time Off Daniel Shearer
Writing the program for Friday night's Twilight concert at the Pa Acacemy of Music becomes a bit of a challenge when the performance is jazz pianist David Leonhardt. How do you pin down a guy who thrives on spontaneity and musical improvisation? Well, you don’t. Kristin Young, associate dean at the academy came up with a working solution. “We’ll just put “Selections may include...’,” she explains. Because basically, what Leonhardt plays all depends on how Leonhardt feels at the time. There’s never any knowing where he and his musical maverick side-kicks will go. “I think that will be interesting for the audience. It leaves you in suspense,” she adds. The David Leonhardt Jazz Trio performance is the second of eight Twilight Series concerts scheduled at the academy through May, 2003. Leonhardt was in town most recently in June to perform at Long’s Park’s Jazz Sunday. But his improvisational tendencies make the jazz man’s performance a bit different than most at PAM. “Dave Leonhardt is an extremely versatile musician,” says Young. “Having him here offers a different musical experience.” Still, she says, there’s not that big a leap from classical to jazz. “Many jazz musicians are trained both classically and in jazz. It’s interesting to see how the two genres overlap and how you can really learn from both.” Plus, the interplay so evident between jazz musicians is common between chamber musicians, as well, says Young.
Lancaster New Era Kathleen Daminger
It was a grand night for Gershwin as the David Leonhardt Jazz Group took the stage at the Longs Park Amphitheater Sunday. A large crowd listened , enraptured by Leonhardt’s band as they paid tribute to the sweet sounds of George Gershwin. Together with his talented quintet he filled the air with the velvety tones and toe tapping melodies that would have made Gershwin nod with approval. Adding to the evening was Nancy Reed a talented singer whose voice and style are reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald.
Prior to the concert the group presented an introductory course for younger members of the audience who were just discovering the bluesy sound of jazz. They loved and so did we all.
Delaware Water Gap in the Poconos has been the home of a small gem of a neighborhood jazz festival since 1978. It helps that the area is a magnet for musicians and the neighbors include Phil Woods, Urbie Green and Bob Dorough! When I found out that David Leonhardt was from just downstream in Easton (and that the group had appeared at the festival last year) I knew we would be in for a treat. And we are. In addition to his technical mastery of the instrument, jazz pianist and arranger David Leonhart is a creative soloist and an intuitive and sympathetic accompanist. This was well demonstrated, not only with his own groups, but during his ten years with David "Fathead" Newman, and his four as Jon Hendrick's musical director. His recent series of Gershwin tribute concerts led to the production of this studio CD. I can't say enough about vocalist Nancy Reed's contribution to this album. Reed is a musician (plays bass in a vocal / instrumental duo with her guitarist husband, Spencer) and a singer. That is a lot different from being a musician who sings. She combines her instrumentalist's phrasing with a warm and supple voice and it's refreshing to hear scatting that is relaxed and not frantic. She and the group approach "Summertime" with a "livin' is easy" feeling and with beautiful backing by Lalama on tenor, just caresses "Embraceable You" and "The Man I Love." Among the many instrumental highlights are a bluesy "Crush on You", an impressionistic yet rhythmic "But Not For Me", Leonhardt's swinging and lmaginative treatment of "S'Wonderful" and an "I Got Rhythm" that keeps shifting between Gershwin and Bird. The jazz world owes Gershwin a lot, not just for those ubiquitous "I Got Rhythm" changes but for the unique harmonic structure of all his songs-a springboard to improvisation. This intimate tribute by the Leonhardt group represents a considerable down payment.
jazzreview.com Bill Falconer
Pennsylvania-based David Leonhardt Jazz Group, noted for its presentation of both straight and modern jazz, eschews the latter on this CD turning its considerable talents and energy to the music of the Gershwin Brothers. One of the Group's stalwarts, Village Vanguard Orch. veteran Ralph Lalama, sets aside his hard bop sax as he revels in the tenderer arrangements of these classic entries from the Great American Songbook. The rhythm section of bass player Paul Rostock and drummer Tom Melito go beyond the usual role of keeping the beat, especially Melito. He is an active participant with solos, contributing punctuating rim shots and cymbal play on almost every cut, going far beyond routine time keeping as on "S'Wonderful". In doing so, he adds a level of excitement that otherwise would be missing. Rostock burns brightly on "A Foggy Day" where he is the principal backing for singer Nancy Reed.
It is the lyrical pianism of David Leonhardt and the articulate vocalizing of long time collaborator Reed which lifts this album out of the drudgery of the ordinary. Leonhardt has been on the scene for more than 25 years, having played with many a stellar jazz performer. Reed excels here not only as a soloist, but as a background singer where she her voice assumes the role as an instrument. The Leonhardt/Reed offering of "Embraceable You" is as sincere a rendering as one will find of this Gershwin classic. The years these two have worked together is evident in the intimacy embedded in their approach to this song in particular and throughout the session generally. Lalama's sax comes in on the last chorus with his tenor noodling soulfully behind Reed accenting the mood created by Leonhardt's piano. A similar situation is found with "The Man I Love", this time with Lalama's sax being a bit more assertive without becoming overly demanding. This is outstanding work.
Plays Gershwin is Leonhardt's 5th album for his Big Bang label. Dilettantes and other assorted naysayers will moan that the last thing we need is another "plays Gershwin" album. But as this fine effort reveals, that position as always is shortsighted as Mr. Leonhardt's group gives refreshing insight to the music of George and Ira Gershwin. Happily recommended.
All About Jazz Dave Nathan
If you were fortunate to be among one of those in the packed house at the Deer Head Inn in April for the CD celebration for "A Time For Love", you experienced how wonderful romantic American standards can sound when lovingly performed by musicians who respect the legacy of this beautiful form of jazz art.
This recording is the first-ever collaboration between Pocono-area favorites singer Nancy Reed and pianist David Leonhardt. The sets were a perfect showcase for Reed's lyrical and expressive vocal stylings and the rich, sensitive accompaniment of Leonhardt's keyboards. Included in the playlist were such gems as "Someone To Watch Over Me", "Waltz for Debbie", "If I Had You", "The Very Thought Of You" and "It's Only a Paper Moon.”
Nancy Reeds reminds me of Jeri Southern. She sings with the same sort of sweetness and deceptively obsessive reticence. David Leonhardt's alternatively rhapsodic, rococo, and/or yielding accompaniment proves to be a perfect setting for her clear, cool vocals. The lady's pitch and enunciation are clear and true. Her phrasing may lack a certain daring, but since she's staked her claim on the cabaret side of the cabaret/jazz divide, it's a more than adequate modus for the earnest conveyance of the stories she spins. If I should be so lucky as to stumble into a piano bar with these folks purveying songs, I'd stay till closing, then hide in the john until they reappeared the next night.
Cadence Review of Jazz & Blues
Jazz enthusiasts in the Poconos know vocalist Nancy Reed of Bushkill from her work at the annual Celebration of the Arts and her appearances at the Deerhead Inn.
Now Reed and pianist David Leonhardt have teamed up to record a CD entitle, "A Time for Love," a delightful effort that contains 14 cuts arranged for voice and piano.
"We've been working together on and off for several years. He approached me; he just wanted to do something quiet and simple. That was about a year go," Reed said. The result is a collection of standards with an elegant simplicity and impeccable scoring that gently recommends the songs to the listener's attention.
Songs like Gerswin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" typify Reed's soft and melodic styling and Leonhardt's delicate scoring on this record. Reed, adept and perhaps better known for her work in scat and the newer variants of hazz, effortlessly evokes the smoky clubs of another era, smoothly blending her vocals with Leonhardt's understated piano.
"Little Boat" is a lively rendition of the tune offered with Latin beats, and contrasts nicely with the blues feel of the opening cut. "Since I Fell for You" typifies the appeal of this disc. That arrangement of the popular song shows the strong connection between jazz, often maligned as an inaccessible music form, and the huge body of work whichs owes its existence to that seminal genre.
On cuts like "Waltz For Debbie" and "Teach Me Tonight," the pair explore the playful and exuberant side of the music, while selections like "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "If I had You" reprise the torchy touch of jazz.
Altogether the song selection and arrangements make for an excellent effort, well balanced and with good production values, which is no surprise considering the vitae of the artists. Reed, the daughter of a jazz pianist and an opera singer, has played and sung locally and internationally with the likes of Delaware Water Gap's Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Fathead Newman and Mount Bethel's Bob Dorough, and has done extensive work on other CDs and movie soundtracks. Leonhardt has done work with Stan Getz and has had composititions covered by Newman, Stanley Turentine and Michele Hendricks.
Pocono Record Pete Pappalardo
Reflections by The David Leonhardt Trio is a pensive, sultry, mellow jazz CD played boldly, recorded impeccably by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder. Don't miss this one for sound and feeling!
The Laser Disc Gazette
This outing by the David Leonhardt Trio was completed in one four-hour session. The group wanted to attain the spirit of a live performance, with plenty of single takes and lots of spontaneous creativity.
The result? Total success. It is one of Leonhardt's finest offerings and his trio mates of Lewis Nash on drums and Peter Washington on bass present a package of tasty music that's flawless in execution and perfectly paced.
Leonhardt's light and airy touch is evident from the start on "Day in the Life of a Fool," which moves beautifully into his original "Another Kentucky Sunset," that centers on a sensitive piano reading with tour de force work by Nash.
Jazz Times David Zych
David Leonhardt bites hard into the piano keys and his instrument responds with striking melodies. Nevertheless, Leonhardt play so sensitively that each tone resounds with a fresh coloration. Peter Washington and Lewis Nash on bass and drums follow all gestures of the pianist with tactfulness and reinforce the already present musical energy in the ballads and the up-tempo numbers. The four standards and seven original compositions of Leonhardt's Trio appeal equally to the mind and the soul." Music: 4 ears, Sound: ears.
Das Musikmagazin, Germany
Some of the best recordings come from small labels far from big-time pressures. The Easton, Pa-based pianist Dave Leonhardt plays with passion, as do his collaborators, drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Peter Washington. Reflections has lots of crystalline moments; the trio shoot for beauty and often achieve it. The CD courses with swinging times too, often with a Latin and Brazilian tinge.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
David Leonhardt isn't a household name, but chances are good that you've heard this pianist's music over the years. Besides stints with vocalist Jon Hendricks and saxman David "Fathead" Newman, and as co-leader with singer Michele Hendricks, Leonhardt has arranged for Art Blakey's and Benny Carter's big bands and has seen his compositions recorded by the likes of Hank Crawford and Stanley Turrentine. What each of these artists have in common is a love melody, precisely what Leonhardt brings to the table on his impressive debut as leader, Departure. Swinging and enterprising support from trumpeter Eddie Henderson, saxophonist Rich Perry, trombonist Robin Eubanks, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and bassists Lonnie Plaxico and Ray Drummond add plenty of meat to the three standards and seven solid originals here. Leonhardt, an inventive stylist with a nice compositional imagination (check out "Funny Walk") has put together a disc that should establish him as far more than just another sideman.
Singer Jon Hendrick's closing third of the evening was a variety show unto itself. It began with the New York Allstars (pianist/leader David Leonhardt, bassist Eric Lemon and drummer Winard Harper, plus Jon Faddis and reedman David "Fathead" Newman), then moved into Hendrick's set, with brief guest appearances by Yolande Bavan (who replaced Annie Ross in that crucial trio with Dave Lambert).
The band on its own sounded great, with Newman's strong bop tenor and pretty, Dolphy-ish flute to the fore. Leonhardt was just astounding on piano.
Winnipeg Free Press Randal McIlrov
Playing piano for vocalese giant Jon Hendricks and handling the keyboard chores for David "Fathead" Newman are no little accomplishments. Neither are writing arrangements for the Benny Carter Orchestra or for Art Blakey's Big Band.
Pianist David Leonhardt accomplished these things in seven years. Yet the 37-year-old native of Louisville had an artistic yearning for something more. It explains why he departed from the comfortable role of sideman and accompanist to the sometimes lonely and often perilous world of the solo artist.
That yearning is amply illustrated on Leonhardt's first solo CD, "Departure" (Big Band) and in his live shows, which audiences can catch on Thursdays during September at the Raritan River Club in New Brunswick.
"After four years with Jon and three more with 'Fathead,' you realize it is good experience, but you want to do something more," said Leonhardt.
Trenton Times Curt Yeske
Once upon a time there was a young jazz musician playing some of the night spots around Louisville, most notably - at that time - The Fig Tree.
He was a graduate of Seneca High School, often wore a dashiki and had a long ponytail. Then he went off to New York to seek the proverbial fame and fortune. That was about eight years ago.
Last month that same musician came back to Louisville sporting closely cropped hair, a business suit and superior skills as a jazz pianist, songwriter and arranger. We don't know about fame or fortune, but it was obvious the young man had matured into a fine performer.
David Leonhardt - and his singing associate, Michelle Hendricks - played to standing-room-only crowds at Hugs and Just Jazz during a three-night stand in the old hometown. Most everybody who heard them agreed it was quite a time for jazz in Louisville.
At the time, Leonhardt and Hendricks were eagerly awaiting the release of the first of three records they're under contract for with Muse Records, an independent label catering to jazz. The record, entitled "Carryin' On," was written, arranged and produced by Leonhardt and is due out this month, beginning a summer filled with promise and exciting events for the pair.
In July, they start a six-week tour of Europe at a festival in Umbria, Italy. Then they tour Japan for six weeks before returning to America.
Although this will be Leonhardt's first visit to Japan, traveling overseas is not new to the 30 year-old son of L.E. and Martha Leonhardt of Louisville. For four years he was music director for Jon Hendricks, a renowned vocal jazz innovator and father of Michelle, and they traveled extensively.
In a brief interview between sets at Just Jazz, Leonhardt chuckled as he recalled his audition with Jon Hendricks:
"He liked the way I played," he said, pausing, and then continued, "And he liked the way I dressed." He wore a three-piece suit, in contrast to most of the others who came in jeans and other casual attire. "Jon's from the old school," Leonhardt said. "He thinks you ought to look nice."
Leonhardt, who had been in Louisville in April, to back up Lew Tabackin in a Louisville Jazz Society performance, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and said he sees other Louisville jazz musicians, including bassist John Goldsby and drummers John Clay and Mark Plank.
Leonhardt attended Bellarmine College but said frankly, "I went to school in bars," referring to his constant playing in Louisville night spots.
Leonhardt has been working fairly steadily with Michelle Hendricks for about three years, five years overall. Her silken voice, sometimes resembling that of a young Sarah Vaughan, goes well with Leonhardt's arranging and playing talents.
Louisville Courier-Journal Gene Williams
Pianist David Leonhardt has just been appointed Artist in Residence at Lafayette College and, based on what can be heard on his new CD, Lafayette is lucky to have him. From the opening "A Day in the Life of a Fool," it becomes evident that this is no ordinary trio album. There's an urgency, an intimacy that both invites and demands that one listen to the rest, which is two-thirds Leonhardt's own compositions. These, by turn, are breezy, jubilant, smoky, and sultry, a search for upbeat superlative descriptions being very much in order, "vital" being the clincher. As a performer, he belongs in the conversation when talking about Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, and Monty Alexander. As a leader, he's made inspired choices in selecting the other members of his trio; they often play as one ultra-talented, three-souled entity. Rudy Van Gelder's recording is of the "you are there" variety that, unlike some of his other work, contains no digital betrayals, helped by Leonhardt's decision to record in single takes for an undeniable urgency and spontaneity that cannot be praised too highly. It's an extraordinary effort that I urge you to experience post haste.
The Abso!ute Sound
With his 1993 recording, "Departure," Easton-area pianist Leonhardt helped establish his credentials with the public, cluing people into what musicians - especially the ones working in New York City clubs- already knew. "Reflections" should further that educational process, and, best of all, it is a trio recording, a format most pianists, Leonhardt included, prefer. "Sao Paulo Samba" and "Winnipeg Blues" were both highlights of Leonhardt's recent Lafayette College performance with Gary Bartz, Tom Harrell, Ray Drummond and Lewis Nash and make the transition to tri and the recorded medium as well. In the liner notes, Leonhardt writes that many of these tunes were recorded on the first takes; that freshness comes across. Peter Washington is the bassist here and Nash does the drumming. Leonhardt did all 11 arrangements and wrote most of the tunes, except three standards and Miles Davis' “Solar."
Disc Reviews Tim Blangger
A fine debut as a leader by the experienced pianist who's already made a name for himself as a sideman with Jon Hendricks and Fathead Newman. This album of mostly originals showcases his lyrical composing skills and spotlights Leonhardt's deft and airy piano touch, always romantic and brightly swinging. Robin Eubanks, Eddie Henderson and Rich perry augment some sides with their horns, while the trio tracks are enchanting on their own merit.
Jazz Times Sid Gribetz
David Leonhardt's energy and elegance quickly mark him as a New Yorker. Over the years he has played behind Jon Hendricks and David "Fathead" Newman and written for the likes of Benny Carter, Stanely Turrentine and Michelle Hendricks. On his first recording as a leader he proves a fine composer capable of swinging waltzes and sambas as well as sturdy dramatic ballads like "Off Nite in Brooklyn" and shimering hard bop lines like "Do It!". He's got solid company in Eddie Henderson, Robin Eubanks, and Smitty Smith to bring body to his work, but Leonhardt also holds his own as a musician. He has a sensitivity and ease with both rich balladry and spry uptempo playing that puts him in the same country as masters such as Kenny Barron and Roland Hanna. His lustrous drifiting through "Out of Nowhere" and dreamy moods on "How Insensitive" are signs of a major player. He even plays cute games with "Me and My Shadow" with Brubeck-style block chording.
Cadence Review of Jazz & Blues
David Leonhardt took up piano at 8 and was playing professionally by 14. Like many teens, the young musician first gravitated to the sounds of rock 'n' roll. But by 17 - unlike most others - he was looking for something new.
"The music was very limiting," says Leonhardt, 42, recalling his early musical experiences. "You could be a real good rock musician after only a few short years. Naturally, if you want to be excellent, you've got to look for bigger challenges."
That, says Leonhardt, is when he discovered jazz. Influenced by artists such as Miles Davis and intrigued by the idea of musical improvisation, he knew right away he'd found a new love.
"The difference between jazz and a pop or classical group is that they work everything out," says Leonhardt. "It's like giving a speech...or something in a play where everybody says the same thing...A jazz performance is more like a conversation of dialogue where you might touch on certain subjects, but - depending on what the other person says - it's going to change. It's more like a conversation of musicians."
Leonhardt's musical conversations have been widespread, including recordings with Stan Getz, Slide Hampton and David "Fathead" Newman. His compositions have been recorded by acts such as the Art Blakey Big Band and the Benny Carter Orchestra.
The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre
True to his intentions, pianist David Leonhardt gathered together four other all-star jazz players Wednesday night at Lafayette College and before an audience of about 200, deftly avoiding the pitfalls of all-star jazz conglomerations.
With the exception of Leonhardt himself, all the other musicians on stage were established "name" jazz players: altoist Gary Bartz, fluegelhornist Tom Harrel, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Lewis Nash.
But the gig, organized by Leonhardt several months ago as part of his artist in residence at Lafayette, showed that the pianist, who now makes his home in the Easton area, deserves big-time respect, even if he lacks, for the moment, the name recognition of the other players.
The group played standards, as well as several tunes written by Leonhardt, some of those from his newly released compact disc, "Departure" (Big Band Records). Leonhardt's tunes were some of the most varied, and most compelling compositions of the night. "Winnipeg Blues," the second number, and Sao Paulo Samba," which closed the first set were filled with blues and Latin references, respectively, and showcased Leonhardt's talents as both a soloist and an accompanist.
Leonhardt also made definite connections with the skillful drumming work of Nash. Both seemed to be communicating rhythms and accents in a way that could best be described as telepathic.
Each horn player also selected a standard as a showcase piece. Bartz picked "I Want To Talk About You," a song Bartz said was famous by the late Billy Eckstine. Harrell selected "Darn That Dream," a tune he has recorded.
With his understated, somewhat dreamy sound, Bartz seemed in better form on this particular evening than Harrell, whose tone and execution failed him at times. Still, Harrell's playing on both fluegelhorn and trumpet, his second horn, suggested some of the brilliance of which he is capable.
The Morning Call, Allentown Tim Blangger
David "Fathead" Newman was in town doing a favor for David Leonhardt. Newman sure seemed to enjoy his night: signing autographs, talking to people like he was a good neighbor just dropping in for the evening, playing a range of stuff from the Duke's classic "Take The A Train" to Leonhardt's own "Slippin Down", which by the way was some pretty tasty stuff.
In fact the tunes that Leonhardt's trio played prior to Newman taking the stage got the crowd up and moving.
The Star Ledger George Kanzler