I do my best to keep track of the music and musicians creating buzz on the local jazz scene. But there are always artists who pop up in places I would not necessarily have expected to find them - often a "you play with them?!" moment. I feel as though the outstanding pianist/producer/composer/arranger Jeremy Ledbetter is one of those musicians.
For a long time I associated Jeremy with his group Canefire, which he put together after several years of travel spent in countries like Trinidad, Cuba, Brazil, and Venezuela. Upon his return to Toronto, he wanted to assemble a group to play original compositions inspired by his travel - thus Canefire was born, and became a first call band in the city for jazz infused with sounds from a variety of other cultures, along with creative compositions and excellent soloing. Here's a taste of Canefire playing one of Jeremy's original compositions - Jeremy takes over at 1:55:
Since 2015 - when the video above was recorded - Jeremy has cemented his reputation as a go-to pianist for musicians in a variety of styles. He's played with Jane Bunnett, OKAN, calypso icon David Rudder, Luanda Jones, Eliana Cuevas and a wide swath of local and visiting jazz artists. And last year he was the arranger, contractor and conductor for an exciting (and massive) project featuring vocalist Patricia Cano and a chamber orchestra. Here's Jeremy conducting the Canadian Sinfonietta with Patricia:
But it was the 2018 release of his album "Got A Light", as leader of the Jeremy Ledbetter Trio, which I feel has helped propel Jeremy to a deserved new place on the local, national and international jazz scenes. While the piano/bass/drums trio is a decidedly traditional jazz setup, the music on the album maintains Jeremy's connections to cultures from around the world, while also taking inspiration from his home life - his partner Eliana Cuevas and their daughter. Jeremy sounds fantastic at the keys, but he's also brought along two outstanding bandmates: bassist Rich Brown and drummer Larnell Lewis. Together they travel effortlessly from jazz to funk and fusion to Brazilian and Venezuelan sounds to some beautifully sensitive balladry. I was at their official CD release at Lula Lounge at it was a blast - every tune seemed to get the crowd going more than the last. Here's the trio in action on the album's title track:
Catch the Jeremy Ledbetter Trio, with equally incendiary bassist Andrew Stewart sitting in for an out-of-town Rich Brown, this Saturday night, October 26, as the inaugural concert of the first ever Geary Lane Jazz Series. We're proud to be supporting this series, and I'm excited to see the trio in action in an intimate listening room. Complete information available here.
I hope to see you there!