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Rupert Leighton: Take the Sidewalk

Rupert Leighton is a 21-year-old U.K. pianist whose full beard makes him appear much older. He’s been playing music for nine years and released his first CD at age 18. He composes, produces, arranges and, of course, performs most all of the music on his second CD. Taken as a whole and with a cynical eye, Leighton’s muse-a mix of jazz, electronica, dance, new age and nu-groove-seems like the kind of CD only someone so young and on an indie label could make. But Leighton’s fresh and compelling compositions speak to an auteur confident about his place and subsequently demand a listen.

Leighton boasts clean and distinct piano chops, but the goal here is a contemporary wall of sound that creates many moods, mostly of the chill and sophisticated variety. The first track, “Amuse Bouche,” stands out with its mainstream jazz sensibilities, a classic jazz rhythm section offering brushed drums and walking acoustic bass lines. Even with that, at times the tune switches into downtempo mode. “Drift Along” also displays Leighton’s jazz chops. But Take the Sidewalk offers an electronica vibe on the c-jazz tip, with injections of synths, heavy beats and the all-important groove. Leighton finishes it off with a vocal blues track, “We Need to Talk,” caressed by funky 1970s synth flourishes and a grinding electric guitar. It’s what you might expect from a refreshing talent with an ear for the unexpected.

Originally Published