Peter Leitch Biography

19 August 1944, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada. Leitch was raised in Montreal, playing guitar there in the early 60s and later in Toronto. He listened to jazz on record and live, sometimes sitting in with visiting artists. Among musicians he heard and from whom he learned were John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery and Thelonious Monk. Inevitably, his jazz orientation was towards the modern end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, anyone interested in playing popular music in those years was influenced by many other genres whether by osmosis or through the need to earn a living by taking available engagements. Consequently, Leitch played with R&B and organ groups, and in back-up bands for many different kinds of entertainers. As his skills and reputation developed, he worked with several prominent leaders, sometimes on recording dates. Among these were Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Al Grey, Jimmy Forrest, Woody Shaw and Pepper Adams. The wide range of music represented by those artists he heard and with whom he played, resulted in Leitch developing an eclectic repertoire. Heavily bop-influenced though it is, among the music he plays can often be heard a burning undercurrent of the blues.

The success of his recording career has meant that he can choose from among the best musicians for his sidemen. Based in New York since the early 80s, among players on his mid- to late 90s sessions were Adams, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Renee Rosnes, Dwayne Burno, Billy Hart and Sean Smith, while on many of his albums he retained the formidable rhythm section of John Hicks, Ray Drummond and Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith. Leitch’s playing is notable for his long, smooth and elegantly swinging lines. He also has the ability to seek and find great emotional depths in the music he selects. He plays both electric and acoustic guitars, and is an able composer and arranger. Leitch is also active as teacher and clinician, visiting schools and colleges in these capacities.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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