Jay Leonhart

Salamander Pie

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Jay Leonhart had long been a first-call bassist in New York City by the time of these 1983 sessions, his first as a leader. But Leonhart has often been inspired to write songs as a result of chance encounters with famous people, in honor of other individuals, or simply to tell a story or recall part of his own life. Half of the fun is guessing whether or not the events in his lyrics ever took place. The bassist has a pleasant though not overly powerful voice, and he is well accompanied by pianist Mike Renzi on these 17 originals. The dry wit of "Robert Frost" discusses the difficulty of writing in a hectic urban atmosphere, though "Let the Flower Grow" is a bit of a throwaway, more fitting as a folk song. "Chanticler" is an odd song describing a fascination with a stripper back in the 1950s. But the most memorable piece is "Uncle Jim," a touching portrait of the black sheep of his family. For some, a full CD of Jay Leonhart performing his own songs will be a bit too much, but his quirky humor and ability to tell a story are never in doubt.

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