Born: August 19, 1944 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Peter Leitch has over the years, gained an international reputation for his unique personal style, rooted in tradition but recognizably his own. Of his fifteen recordings as a leader, many feature his long-time rhythm section of pianist John Hicks, Ray Drummond and Smitty Smith. Several also include a saxophonist (Pepper Adams, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz and Jed Levy have each contributed to Peter's recordings).
Self-Portrait is Peter's most recent release (April 2007) and is his first complete solo effort. It features music ranging from Mingus, Ellington and Strayhorn to several new originals performed on electric and acoustic guitar.
Peter is also an accomplished photographer. It is fitting that the release of his new CD is in conjunction with the opening of his photography show Mississippi and the South, at the WBGO Gallery in Newark.
Autobiography pays tribute to some of the guitarists, heroes, influences and friends (including a tune written for everyone's favorite jazz waitress, Allyson.) Fans who buy the CD from the website or from Peter directly will also receive a fun 9-minute DVD about the making of Autobiography .
Duality is an intimate musical conversation between the guitarist and pianist John Hicks.
The Montreal Concert is a duet of another sort. Recorded live (a first!), he and altoist Gary Bartz take some musical chances to create what Jazziz calls, one of the new decade's sterling examples of chamber jazz.
Blues On The Corner is a sextet recording that Peter feels is a winning combination of new voices and old friends and they're unique! Bobby Watson, Kendra Shank, Renee Rosnes, Dwayne Burno and Billy Hart join Peter in making this something special in this mix of originals and music from within the jazz repertoire.
Up Front on Reservoir Records, is a trio effort featuring the guitarist in a more up front setting than his previous recording. Featuring bassist Sean Smith and drummer Marvin Smitty Smith, Peter, according to Jim Ferguson at Jazz Times, renders this nine-tune set with a combination of his trademark virtuosity, imagination, musicianship and good taste. And, according to Downbeat, his long, smoothly flowing lines sound emotional and hauntingly beautiful.
Colours And Dimensions finds the guitarist leading a full-size ensemble featuring piano, bass, drums and three horns. I wanted to get a group sound in which the guitar was part of the ensemble, rather than make a guitar record per se, Leitch said. The result is a fine summation of his other releases with superb displays of his playing on both electric and acoustic guitars, his composing, and his arranging.
In addition to his performing career, he enjoys visiting universities and jazz camps as clinician and artist-in-residence. Peter feels strongly that such involvement with developing musicians not only helps them with their craft, but builds knowledgeable jazz audiences for the future. When he was developing as a musician in his native Montreal in the early 1960s, younger musicians learned informally from the older, more experienced ones in after-hour jams and through listening--both to live and recorded music. I was able to hear such giants as Coltrane, Wes Montgomery and Monk live, night after night when they came through town with their groups, Peter remembers. I could hear them develop their new ideas and then get the record that they made at the end of that particular tour and see where the music went.
He came up at a time when young musicians could make a living playing with r&b groups, organ bands and back-up groups for all kinds of entertainers -- from strippers to hypnotists to cabaret singers -- travelling from one small town to another. But today's young musicians don't have the same kind of community to develop in. The schools have had to take the place of that kind of education.
Among the legendary artists that Peter has recorded or worked in the bands of are: Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Al Grey & Jimmy Forrest, Woody Shaw and Pepper Adams. The Interview
Peter plays a Zoller guitar, a big hollow-bodied instrument made by the Hofner Company and designed by friend and fellow guitarist, the late Atilla Zoller. It is one of only two such models in existence (the other was owned by the great Jimmy Raney and passed on his son). He uses and endorses Polytone amplifiers and La Bella strings.
Leitch has been making finely crafted albums with an ever increasing cast for over a decade. This is his best yet (Colours & Dimensions)...septet originals, all richly orchestrated and each utterly memorable. --George Kanzler, Newark Star Ledger
Leitch's signature remains his warm-toned, saxophonic single note lines which he spins with fluidity, harmonic sophistication and driving swing. --Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
His warm, singing lines...have both a melodic grace and a rhythmic strength. --John S. Wilson, New York Times
Leitch plays with bite, drive, and refreshing intelligence...a concern for structure and rhythmic vitality. --The New Yorker
Peter Leitch has been turning out consistently tasty, relentlessly swinging straightahead jazz albums for 12 years...marked by fluid phrasing, rhythmic drive, romantic lyricisim... --Guitar Player
Pumping out a steady flow of top-flight jazz albums...his works has been remarkably unpredictable and always fresh. --The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette
La Bella strings