Born: September 11, 1962 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Bruno Leicht studied jazz trumpet in Cologne from 1985 to 1990 and is an examined music teacher. He is currently mostly active as performer in Cologne and Berlin.
He gives regular jazz history classes at the Cologne Music College.
Career (a rough overview):
After some gigs with local small groups he founded Blue Seven & The Ghosts which did several productions for the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the WDR, and some Polish radio station (1988 to 1992).
Blue Seven & The Ghosts was inspired by Leicht's private workshop group which he lead subversively parallel to the official International Jazz Workshop in Siena under master trumpeter Enrico Rava.
The repertoire of the band (trumpet, three saxes, piano, bass & drums) consisted of famous blues compositions (St. Louis Blues, All Blues, Now's The Time) and own compositions, mostly in the blues form (Out Of The Window, Basta Casino aka June's Blues, and Not So Monkish!).
From 1989 on - after Leicht had listened extensively to Booker Little and Charles Mingus - his compositions became harmonically and formally more complex.
His trumpet style can be described as rooted in the swinging tradition with an 'old' sound, but a modern harmonic conception (Lothar Lewien, Berlin, friend and biographer of Chet Baker & Charlie Mariano).
Leicht is influenced by trumpeters Louis Armstrong, Harry James, Roy Eldridge, and Fats Navarro, to name a few of the traditional cats he tirelessly loves to listen to; whereas Booker Little, Kenny Dorham, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, or Kenny Wheeler are representing the more modern players of his musical family.
He also was and still is inspired by other instrumentalists like Stan Getz, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane or Steve Lacy.
To name all the composers who impressed and inspired Leicht (jazz or otherwise) would fill an entire encyclopedia, and so are there only two he would list as #1 of the chart: Mozart & Monk.
His current working bands are Brew Lite's Free Lights with Andreas Wagner on clarinet & tenorsax, Christian Ramond on bass, and Nils Tegen on drums; and Brew Lite's Madhattan Four with Martin Sasse on piano, Christian Ramond, and Marcus Rieck on drums.
Bruno Leicht is constantly working on new compositions for the two bands.
His new pieces include Crossing Mails, Big Noise In Rumble Lane, Ballad Of The Big 15, 12 Hours Ahead aka Mad G Blues aka Magic Blues, Lady L's Little Bloose, and Goodbye Mr. Russell (an obituary in music, dedicated to composer George Russell).
The soccer game a.k.a. football inspired Leicht to write numerous works, dedicated to famous (or not so famous) male and female soccer players. Among them Bossa Marta Nova, Solo For Hope, Rudi reitet wieder, Blues pour Roger, Kingson, Keeper Of Ghana, or the very interesting extended blues Bloozin' 'Round De Vuvuzela.
His most recent works include the soundtrack to a documentary on the famous BRAUN company: Simply The Best - The BRAUN Design Story (Dieter Oeckl).
Saxophonist/ clarinetist François de Ribeaupierre has substituted pianist Martin Sasse, since the lighter approach and the flexibility of the classic piano-less setting à la Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins, Red Norvo & Co. are more adequate for Leicht's contrapuntal jazz writing.
Who needs a piano anyway?
Leicht has written several concert reviews in local newspapers, the JazzPodium (Germany) and the liner notes to the premier CD edition of The Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band 20th & 30th Anniversary, former MPS, then Motor Music.
His special hobby is to find connections between jazz musicians and the ancient classical - whatever that is - composers, which aren't obvious for the 'average' listener.
Leicht found out that especially Charlie Parker was a first class connoisseur of classics like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms or Stravinsky.
Charles Mingus, although a very hot and rough cat, had more in common with Debussy or Ravel than one might think of.
Awards:Jazz Award Winner of the City of Mannheim, Germany
Bruno Leicht's personal encounter with Dizzy Gillespie (Cologne, October 1990)
BL Interview with Chris Rich, Brilliant Corners
Ich habe Bruno Leicht als einen sehr ernsthaften, engagierten und vielseitig kreativen Musiker kennengelernt. - - Prof. Jiggs Whigham/ Hans Eisler Universität Berlin
Jazz journalist Marc Myers/ JazzWax about Bruno Leicht's former jazz blog:
Bruno hosts a fabulous blog that's loaded with jazz insights and free music clips.
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Thelonious Monk didn't think in scales. You won't even find chord-symbols in his original scores. He was a "melody man", since he was mainly interested in the melody of a song and what you could do with it.
Besides that did he always try to express the sounds he heard swinging in himself. Some notes which would have belonged to a certain chord, he left off intentionally, and added others which weren't supposed to be there, and which would have been considered as "wrong" notes by most academic intellectuals.
"Blue Monk" was his favorite composition among the ca. 65 pieces he wrote.
While improvising on a theme like "Blue Monk" you always should hear the melody inside your head. You can't get lost then. If you can sing along, and play along with the recording, if you have memorized a tune, you've made quite a progress already.
Then you eventually would play alone, by tapping the rhythm with your feet. You play the melody as written. Then you'd sing the theme. Then you'd start to improvise along the melody.
Keep your foot going, be your own drummer. Sing it, then take the instrument and try to remember what you've sung before.
Working on new tunes like that may be tough in the beginning, but it's - in my opinion - the best way to find your own style, your own articulation, your own sound.
The more often you'd do it, the faster you'll learn new melodies by heart. It's crucial to learn music by ear, especially jazz. It is good to imitate your favorite player. That's what all (!) masters did in the beginning.
It's always better for you to make your own mistakes, instead of looking up jazz tunes in fake books which not too seldom contain wrong chord progressions, wrong keys or even the wrong lines of common standards.
Go for the original before your own version of a tune is based on the false interpretation / transcription you'd find in the so called "Real Book".