David Leonhardt Trio: Bach To The Blues

As a keyboardist, composer and bandleader, David Leonhardt exhibits a palpable eagerness to expand his repertoire and shows enjoyment in exploring his abilities as a musician and arranger. His latest project, Bach To The Blues is an assortment of classical pieces which Leonhardt puts his own spin on with the assistance of his band mates Matthew Parrish on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums. Leonhardt’s interpretation of classical numbers penned by such icons as Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven, and Bach infuse dazzling frills and eloquent trimmings that enhance the chords dynamics and ease the shifts in the melodic transitions, thereby composing a balance between free-style exertions and conventional chamber jazz motifs. Leonhardt takes the starch out of traditional fixtures in classical pieces and opens them up to new melodic expressions without compromising their skeletal structure.

The dramatic swags of the piano keys in Schubert’s “Ava Maria” are gorgeous, and the bowed arches and soft inflections of the piano keys that Leonhardt puts in Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedic No. 1” are synchronized in accordance with the rhythmic beats. Mounds of chamber-style piano keys brandish an orchestral pageantry in Bach’s “Prelude In A Minor” heightening each stage of the piece, while the dark, heavy tones of Beethoven’s “Adagio From Pathetique” are garbed in gloomy shadows which gradually increase their altitude and develop into a banquet of cherubic-like frolics along the sequences of ruffling piano keys.

Leonhardt’s performance ranges from the massaging strokes he puts in Bach’s “Prelude In G Major” to the shimmery, starlight texture he shrouds Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” with from start to finish. The bustling pace of his chord progressions through Bach’s “Prelude In Bb” climb up and down the music scale with the dexterity of a master, and the sophistication he executes in his extensions along Chopin’s “Magurka In C Minor” are statuesque. The piano keys create a garland of frills and circular motions across “Simple Gifts” producing a comfy bounce, which contrasts the somber pitch of Pachelbel’s “Canon In D” padded by the malleable movements of the piano keys and the rhythmic splashing of the cymbal strikes.

David Leonhardt is a stylist and an innovator in the realm of chamber jazz. He coats the compositions in various degrees of light and dark shades and never loses his grip on the reins. He handles the chord progressions like a master craftsman, and explores his abilities with the will of an adventurer. Bach To The Blues demonstrates Leonhardt’s ability to expand on classical themes without corrupting them in the process.