MichaelLeonhart 1555 cover web

Album: Suite Extracts Vol. I
Label: Sunnyside Records
Vertrieb: Good To Go
VÖ: 6. September 2019

Das vom The New York City Jazz Record als „eine brandheiße fantastische Sache“ gefeierte Michael Leonhart Orchestra (MLO) durchstreift ein weites musikalisches Terrain. Dabei wird es vom fein ausgebildeten Gehör, einem allumfassenden Interesse und der spielerischen – dabei aber auch immer akribischen Kunstfertigkeit - des Leaders, Michael Leonhard, geleitet.

Suite Extracts Vol. I folgt auf das Debutalbum, The Painted Lady Suite, aus dem Jahr 2018. Diese überraschende Sammlung dokumentiert einen besonderen Aspekt der Mission von MLO: Covernummern zu spielen, aber auf eine ganz eigene, von Leonhart entwickelte, Manier. Es ist ein äußerst heterogenes Material, das von Fela Kuti bis Spinal Tap, Howlin’ Wolf und Ornette Coleman reicht und zu Suites geformt ist, die anarchische erscheinen, dennoch aber kohärente Gedanken zu vielen von Leonhards wichtigsten musikalischen Leidenschaften entwickeln. Auf dem Album finden sich auch namhafte Gäste, etwa Chris Potter, Nels Cline, Donny McCaslin, John Ellis, Erik Friedlander und viele andere mehr. Diese Gäste sind so in den Rahmen eines lebhaften, 20-köpfigen Ensembles eingebunden, dass es sich der Einordnung in eine feste Kategorie entzieht. 


Alu Jon Jonki Jon | La Fuga Di Derek | Big Bottom / Lonely Woman | Dance of the Maidens At Stonehenge | Built for Comfort | Jazz Odyssey / Lick My Love Pump | Liquid Swords | Da Mystery of Chessboxin' | Liquid Chamber | Shimmy Shimmy Ya / Glaciers of Ice | The Ballad of St. Hubbins | Quiet Man Is Dead / Opposite People


MICHAEL LEONHART arranger, conductor, composer


NELS  CLINE guitar, CHRIS  POTTER tenor sax  DONNY  McCASLIN tenor sax,



Hailed as "a blazing hot mess of awesome" by The New York City Jazz Record, the Michael Leonhart Orchestra (MLO) traverses a huge swath of musical terrain, guided by the highly developed ears, ceaselessly omnivorous tastes and playful yet meticulous artistry of its leader, Michael Leonhart. Following their 2018 debut album The Painted Lady Suite, MLO will release their second full length album, Suite Extracts Vol. I on August 30, via Sunnyside Records.

The first single from the new album is “Shimmy Shimmy Ya/Glaciers of Ice,” an orchestral instrumental medley of songs by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Raekwon from “The Wu-Tang Suite."

This surprising collection documents an aspect of the MLO’s mission: playing covers, but in the Leonhart way — with widely disparate material ranging from Fela Kuti to Spinal Tap to Howlin’ Wolf to Ornette Coleman curated into suites, forming anarchic yet coherent thoughts on many of Leonhart’s chief musical passions. The album features notable guests Chris Potter, Nels Cline, Donny McCaslin, John Ellis, Erik Friedlander and many others in the context of a vibrant and unclassifiable 20-piece ensemble.

Leonhart says, “there’s a certain abandon and freedom in all the material. A lot of it has a backbeat, which the first album really didn’t. This album is more muscular in many ways. It reflects what we’re doing live: less of the pastoral, transcendent mood pieces, the sonic baths, and more of the groove interaction.”

Leonhart’s approach to the MLO cannot but be informed by his many other activities and wide-ranging credits: he’s a top-level jazz trumpeter and longtime member of Steely Dan; a gifted and distinctive pianist; a singer, songwriter and film composer; a session player with credits including the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson megahit "Uptown Funk"; an accomplished orchestrator (Nels Cline’s Lovers) and producer (Donald Fagen’s Sunken Condos, Sachal Vasandani’s Slow Motion Miracles). The polyglot musical worldview Leonhart has developed as a result stamps the MLO’s work at every moment.

The MLO has developed and refined the suites through the course of its monthly residencies at Jazz Standard, one of New York’s most prestigious jazz rooms. Leonhart continues to pursue his vision there, with unconventional instrumentation and a shapeshifting community of sought-after players from a variety of cutting-edge scenes and disciplines.

Plotting next steps, Leonhart has a specific scheme in mind for the MLO. Another all-original album, like Painted Lady, will follow this one; then another album of covers. And that sequence will continue to alternate. Candidates among the covers include a Bernard Herrmann Psycho suite, a Charlie Brown Christmas suite, an Ennio Morricone suite, a Cannonball Adderley suite and more. Originals to come include “The Normyn Suite,” a meditation on loss in honor of Leonhart’s late dachshund, and “The Galapagos Suite,” inspired by a recent trip. “We’re playing catchup with the amount of songs we have ready,” the leader says. “I think there are 80 songs in the book and we’ve released about 22. It’s a really creative time.”

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