EFG London Jazz Festival 2023

Jay Leonhart + Ray Gallon

Event Has Passed

Last Show: Sunday 12 th November 2023

The Pheasantry (Chelsea)

We are delighted to present a rare appearance in Europe by legendary jazz bassist Jay Leonhart, together in a duo with much admired New York jazz pianist Ray Gallon. Gallon's latest trio album features Ron Carter and Lewis Nash, while Leonhart's own CV is too long to list, but includes everyone from Frank Sinatra and Steely Dan to Ozzy Osbourne and Queen Latifah. He is a gifted singer-songwriter, whose compositions have been recorded by Blossom Dearie and Lee Konitz among others.

Jay Leonhart was born on December 6, 1940, in Baltimore Maryland. His parents, sisters, and brothers (6 kids in all), were all musically inclined. Everyone played the piano. By the age of 7, Jay and his older brother Bill were playing banjos and guitars and mandolins and basses. They played country music, jazz -- anything with a beat. In their early teens, Jay and Bill were television stars in Baltimore and were touring the country performing on their banjos. When Jay was fourteen he started playing the bass in The Pier Five Dixieland Jazz Band in Baltimore and never looked back.

After studying at The Peabody Institute, Jay attended The Berklee School of Music and The Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, before leaving school to start touring with the traveling big bands of the late 50's and early 60's. At 21, Jay moved to New York City to start his career and to proceed on his oddessy towards adulthood. He played lots of funky road gigs with big bands, small bands and singers and visited all the little jazz joints around the world. In 1968, he met and married a lovely young singer named Donna Zier and settled down in New York. Jay and Donna Leonhart have also raised two very musically inclined children, Michael and Carolyn, who perform with Steely Dan, among other notables. Upon moving to New York, Jay eventually began playing for many of the great jazz musicians, big bands, and singers who were to be found in New York - artists like Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Tony Bennett, Marian McPartland, and Jim Hall. The list goes on
and on, and Jay has continued to work with many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Jay became a very busy studio musician in New York City, visiting every musical genre from James Taylor to Steely Dan to Ozzy Osbourne and Queen Latifah. Between 1975 and 1995 he was named The Most Valuable Bassist in the recording industry three times by the
National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Jay has now recorded 15 solo albums - all the while knowing that he would some day begin performing one man shows made up of these many songs about his life in music. "The Bass Lesson" is the first example. This show is being received warmly by critics and audiences and appears to have a long life ahead of it. Jay's next show "Nukular Tulips" is in the works.

A superior bassist, Jay Leonhart has also had a parallel and sometimes overlapping career as a witty lyricist and occasional singer. As a child he attended the Peabody Conservatory (1946-50) and by the time he went to the Berklee College of Music (1959-61), Leonhart was a jazz musician. He played with Buddy Morrow (1961) and Mike Longo (1962-63) and then became a busy freelance musician in New York. Among Leonhardt's many associations were Marian McPartland (with whom he recorded in 1971), Jim Hall, Urbie Green, Chuck Wayne (1976), Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Don Sebesky, Louie Bellson and pianist Mike Renzi. Leonhart started becoming well-known as a lyricist in the 1980's when he began leading his own recording sessions and started having his songs being recorded by other singers. As a leader, Jay Leonhart has recorded for DMP (1983), Sunnyside (1984 and 1988), Nesak (1990) and DRG (1993).

Pianist Ray Gallon, a native New Yorker, has been a mainstay of the jazz scene for over three decades. Rooted in bebop and blues, his expressive, swinging playing, as well as his distinctive compositions, meld old and new into a fresh, original style.
Mentored by legendary jazz pianists John Lewis, Jaki Byard, and Hank Jones, Ray has toured the world and/or recorded with a long list of jazz luminaries, including Ron Carter, Lionel Hampton, Art Farmer, George Adams, Les Paul, Benny Golson, and
Wycliffe Gordon, and has appeared at gala events at the White House and the Kennedy Center with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Sweets Edison, and Joe Williams. Ray has also accompanied many vocal greats, including Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan, Grady Tate, and Chaka Khan. Ray’s new trio album, Grand Company, with Maestro Ron Carter and Lewis Nash, due to be released this November on Cellar Music, is already being lauded by Grammy-winning pianist Bill Charlap. Ray’s previous release for Cellar, the highly acclaimed trio album Make Your Move, featuring the stellar rhythm section of David Wong and Kenny Washington, was enthusiastically praised by none other than Ahmad Jamal. Involved in education, Ray is currently a Lecturer of Jazz Studies at The City College of New York and has led workshops and master classes throughout North America and Europe.