In the world of bassists/composers associated with the music commonly known as jazz, and sometimes referred to as America’s classical music or National Treasure, names like Oscar Pettiford and Charles Mingus stand out amongst an elite group. However, this elite group has expanded over the years along with the natural role of bass in contemporary music ensembles. Today we have many great bass players who are also great composers and James Leary is certainly one among them!
As a bassist, James Leary has worked consistently for over fifty years performing with many of the world’s most renowned entertainers and performing artists. He has accumulated a long list of credits, overshadowing an equally impressive list of personal artistic accomplishments (For more bio information, please visit www.jamlearmusic.com).
“Together” is a CD project featuring a compilation of original compositions written and arranged by James Leary. The music is an integral part of his musical legacy and chronicles many of his west coast artistic endeavors, emanating from a deep sense of social responsibility and dedication to community involvement. The first seven tracks showcase a unique big band sound, recorded and independently released on vinyl in 1980. Although the music was well received by those hearing the band live as well as on recordings, the record album was not promoted and got very little national or international exposure. Today, the music is heralded as a classic San Francisco Bay Area treasure, witnessed and heard by only a few. With George Cables, Eddie Marshall, Kenneth Nash and Babatunde Lea joining him in the rhythm section, James paints a musical landscape for the incomparable solo genius of the great tenor saxophonist, Joe Henderson, backed by some of the finest section players in the Bay Area at that time! We are sure both casual listeners and serious music enthusiasts will agree that it would be a “Cardinal Sin” not to re-release these tracks with a goal of reaching broader audiences and increasing opportunities for the greater public to experience and collect this music.
The remaining six tracks were taken from various sessions produced in Southern California, during the 1990’s. With the exception of the tune “Little Joe,” James composes for smaller ensembles on these tracks, featuring “jazz” heroes based in and around the Los Angeles area, including our co-founder and inspiration for LifeForcejazz Records, the legendary Billy Higgins. Whether writing for instrumentals, vocals, small or large ensembles, James Leary is a music storyteller with a dedicated connection to other performing arts disciplines. Listeners of this CD will hear his propensity for creating and harmonizing haunting melodic themes over an array of different rhythms and tempos, which is also his formula for scoring sound tracks used in films, modern dance or theatrical productions. Although the innovative music presented on this disc reflects James Leary’s interpretation, expression and statement of personal experiences, it also positively impacts the consciousness of society by continuing to convey messages of peace, love, unity and the idea that “we can make a deal,” Together!
James Leary is a catalytic musical force. He makes beautiful things happen like this extraordinary CD. Although this particular compilation of music will probably be categorized by most as jazz, it really transcends popular genres or styles and has already stood the test of time among those familiar with Leary’s work. These 13 classic originals brilliantly showcase James Leary as composer, arranger, bassist and leader of various music ensembles. If virtuosity, originality, historical continuity, integrity and charisma are any criteria for distinguishing a major artist, then one listen to this disc assures that James Leary most certainly qualifies.
John Collar, President Blue Collar Records
I’ve always known that James Leary was an excellent Jazz bassist but hearing his wonderful and striking original compositions and arrangements is a true revelation. He lets us hear melodies and harmonies in a new and unpredictable way and he has assembled an outstanding ensemble of master musicians who interpret the music flawlessly. This is an instant classic, a recording you will always want to hear.
Bobby Matos LifeForce Jazz recording artist
Like an improvised Jazz standard, James Leary is a melody somewhat well known but whose moment-to-moment development is unpredictable and nearly always unexpected. Each time you see or hear him, you recognize the melody but what happens during the interaction is anything but casual or automatic. You have a long history of association and a large collection of touch points but Leary remains an inscrutable enigma. He is an evolving composition best understood listening to his music.
James Leary set his own tempo soon after birth in Little Rock, Arkansas; he began demolishing the fragile glass baby bottles of that era in favor of sturdy Royal Crown Cola (RC) bottles with nipples affixed. As a result, today James is as understandable as he is incomprehensible, playful as he is serious, transparent as he is unreadable, and fundamental as he is profound. Back home, we gave up on trying to figure him out long ago and learned to just savor his music.
W. Callion Stevens
To the musicians, production team and supporters who came “Together” with the idea and specific goal of assembling this treasure of recorded music for listening enjoyment.
To Bobby Hutcherson a great artist, inspiration, mentor, and one of the world’s most innovative musicians!
This CD project is dedicated to the memory of Margaret Leary Brown, Joe Henderson, Eddie Marshall, Manny Boyd, Fred Mergy, Robert Trezvant, John Stubblefield and others directly contributing to the evolution of this music before making their transition from this life.