Jay Leonhart

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by arnoldschnitzer, Jul 5, 2003.

  1. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    I had the pleasure of attending Jay's show at ISB. He was entertaining, funny, musical, and played great bass. His bit about Gasparo daSalo had me in tears...
  2. We should have a thread to discuss Jay Leonhart, one of the most musical jazz bassists alive today. He studied with Ray Brown, who like his mentor, has marvelous arrangements, melodically beautiful and creative walking lines, and probably one of the best bass solo's of the very top handful of jazz bassists in history. I think he may have developed this musical soloing from practicing singing along with his bass soloing, which Ray Brown always recommended.
    I recently attended a workshop Jay Leonhart did at the David Gage Bass Shop in New York City, where Jay discussed how Slam Stewart, who was a tenor singer, would play arco solo's and sing wordlessly along with the arco solo's an octave above what he was playing on the bass. Major Holley developed his own individual sound by playing arco solo's on the bass and singing wordlessly along in unison with the bass. Jay has developed his own, unique approach, which seems totally impossible, but sounds wonderful--playing either arco or pizzicato solo's and singing either wordlessly or with the lyrics of the song a perfect interval of a tenth above the bass soloing. Jay told us, "It's a difficult mind set to do in the beginning, but it really works."
    I totally agree with what Dondi said in this forum in the "Working on Grooves" thread about having studied with Jay Leonhart and feeling that, "Jay is one of the great underrated players out there."
  3. While the Marsalis family has the father, Ellis II, and 4 of his 6 sons (Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason) all working as jazz musicians, there are other families with a lot of professional jazz musicians. We can think of such families as father Dewey Redman and son Joshua Redman, father John Coltrane, mother Alice Coltrane, and son Ravi Coltrane, father Thelonius Monk and son TS Monk Jr., mother Sandy Stewart and son Bill Charlap, father Bucky Pizzarelli and son John Pizzarelli, and wives and husbands, such as Renee Rosnes and husband Billy Drummond or Geri Allen and husband Wallace Roney.

    However, Jay Leonhart's family may be one of the rare ones where the father, Jay, on bass and vocals, mother, Donna, on vocals, son Michael on trumpet and other instruments (piano, guitar, drums, melodica), and daughter, Carolyn on vocals, are all competent, talented, and superb jazz musicians. In addition to Jay's scores of albums, Donna has a nice album on Sunnyside, Being Green, (2001) and Michael and Carolyn each have nice recents albums. Michael also arranged and produced all the tracks on Donna's album and he and Jay also play on most tracks.

    A highlight of Donna's recent album is a charming vocal duet on the love song, "Deed I Do", between Donna and Jay with Jay also on bass and Michael on guitar.

    Jay's recent album, Jay Leonhart: Rodgers and Leonhart, on Sons of Sound Productions (2002) has all his family members nicely featured.
  4. Jimmyjazz

    Jimmyjazz Guest

    Jul 19, 2002
    I picked up a copy of his video "The Bass Lesson" which is not an actual bass lesson but rather him playing and singing his solo live set. Very funny it is too. Amazing to see someone playing the doghouse and singing with such ease.
  5. Where can you get this video, "The Bass Lesson"?
  6. Jimmyjazz

    Jimmyjazz Guest

    Jul 19, 2002
  7. bobsax


    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    Seems like I've seen him with a few basses.
    What is this one?

    It looks huge.
  8. Kai Sanchez

    Kai Sanchez Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2006
    Just spoke to Jay Leonhart on the phone a few days ago and he came across as a very nice person.
  9. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Jay has George Duvuvier's old Carved Gibson prototype. I believe it was made by an Italian maker. It's not huge but sounds like it.

  10. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    His daughter Carolyn is an amazing vocalist who tours with Steely Dan and Donald Fagen.
  11. johnz


    Apr 26, 2008
    Ashland, OR
    It doesn't stop there. Jay's brother Bill, who plays 7-string guitar, is wonderfully creative as well!
  12. gerry grable

    gerry grable

    Nov 9, 2010
    I first heard about Jay in NYC, in the 70s, from his (then I believe?) brother-in-law, Jim Kappes. He was (and is?) a fine drummer and we often played together. When I once needed a sub for a gig all the way out at the tip of Long Island, Gurney's Inn, Jim suggested I call Jay. I did and was relieved that he took it-- for $50, on fender!
    The gig was with the Karen Springer Trio of which I was a member. She sang, of course, and played piano, electric mostly, on the kinds of venues we played: Playboy Club, etc. I forget who was on drums, but we always used great drummers: Jim, of course, and Arnie Wise, Bill Goodwin, Bud Nealy, Tony Lupo to name a few others. When I called Karen after the weekend to find out how it had gone, she said, "He's the the best bass player I ever played with" :)