My purchase of Carl Sonny Leyland’s “A Chicago Session” (Ventrella) was an impulse based in part on the description of the disc on the new release web page of BlueBeat Music’s website. It was one of several releases featuring Joel Patterson, and I was familiar with the blues and boogie woogie piano of Leyland so sound unheard it was in a recent order, and its simple delights have captivated me since first giving it a listen.
Leyland, a British native who has since relocated to Southern California, has immersed himself in the piano blues tradition and (to these ears) incorporates elements from such diverse artists as Memphis Slim, Art Hodes, Albert Ammons, and Piano Red with some jazz seasoning (a dash of Teddy Wilson and Mary Lou Williams), delivering such a strong, yet relaxed sound and is a more than a competent vocalist who delivers in a natural genial manner without sounding bland. In addition to the swinging, jazzy playing of Patterson, he is backed by bassist Beau Sample and drummer Alex Hall, who provide crisp, yet understated, support that embellishes Leyland’s wonderful playing and Patterson’s crisp comping and single note excursions.
There is a nice range of material from his straight-forward delivery of Roosevelt Sykes’ “BVD Blues,” and his exuberant rendition of Piano Red’s “Rockin’ With Red,” with his bouncy piano complemented by a deft Patterson solo. Speckled Red’s classic “Dirty Dozens’ is done as a wistful instrumental, while the sprite rendition of “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue,” is an unusual, if delightful performance, “Up the Lazy River,” is a feature for the playing of Patterson followed by a nice “Careless Love.” This is a totally captivating recording of piano blues, and I certainly will be investigating Leyland's past catalog for similar gems.
Here is a link to Carl's website, where one can purchase this and others ion his lengthy discography. Bluebeat Music has the CD while amazon and itunes have it available for download.