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Leap Day Trio Live at the Cafe Bohemia (Giant Step Arts)

Leap Day Trio is a new project from drummer Matt Wilson, tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer, and bassist Mimi Jones.

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Cover of Live at the Cafe Bohemia

Giant Step Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2018 by Jimmy Katz, the most in-demand photographer in jazz, who in recent years has become almost equally renowned as a recording engineer. GSA’s small number of releases to date have been consistently extraordinary. 

Leap Day Trio is a new project from drummer Matt Wilson, tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer, and bassist Mimi Jones. To prepare for this recording date, they all brought in original music, held two rehearsals, and were ready, in Wilson’s words, “to throw down.” 

From the opening “Dewey Spirit,” the vibe is loose, raucous, irreverent, and hardcore. Leap Day Trio is a band that trusts its wildest momentary impulses. Lederer’s searing tenor sound can be as raw as Albert Ayler’s. He is a relentless improviser who sometimes careens down blind alleys. More often (like on “Leap Leap” and “Gospel Flowers”), his strivings culminate in catharsis. 

Wilson, perhaps for the first time on record, reveals the full range of his art. Not many drum soloists can rivet your attention with complete musical content. He summons his vast portfolio of percussion resources to imagine fresh melodies and tell suspenseful stories. 


Jones is a stealth weapon, conjuring rituals, creating a basis for the ensemble. 

When they see the title of this album, many jazz fans will assume it is a historical release. The Café Bohemia is surrounded by legend. Blakey, Dorham and Mingus made famous records there during the five years it was open, from 1955 to 1960. The great news: Café Bohemia is back, at the same address in Greenwich Village (although in the basement). One thing Jimmy Katz the engineer can do is put you in a place in time. He gets it all: the sweat of the band, the buzz of the crowd, the electric night air. 

Thomas Conrad

Thomas Conrad has a BA from the University of Utah and an MA from the University of Iowa (where he attended the Writers Workshop). He taught English at Central State University in Ohio, then left the academic world for the private sector. His affiliation with publications such as JazzTimes, Stereophile, The New York City Jazz Record and DownBeat has enabled him to sustain active involvement in two of his passions: music and writing.