If veteran guitarist Peter Leitch chose to make this 1999 live recording available for purely sentimental reasons, who could blame him? After all, he doubtless views this performance as a treasured reminder of his friendship with two late jazz masters: pianist John Hicks and drummer Billy Higgins. Surely bassist David Williams, who adds his deft touch to this West Coast summit, concurs.
Listeners, though, will enjoy this CD for numerous reasons. The mood is relaxed, the arrangements of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes are colorfully expansive, and the musical rapport is unmistakable throughout. Leitch is in fine form, lyrical and lively by turns, favoring a warm, plump tone, clearly inspired by pieces composed by Hicks, Ellington-Strayhorn, Charlie Parker and others. “A Blues for Ivan Symonds/Theme,” penned by the guitarist, offers a soulful interlude, in sharp contrast to the quartet’s often quick-witted interplay.