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Peter Leitch

A gifted straight-ahead Canadian guitarist, Peter Leitch is known for his swinging hard bop and standards-based jazz. Leitch initially earned attention playing in New York in the early '80s, working with saxophonist Jed Levy, Jack McDuff, and Jaki Byard, among others. Along with producing and writing liner notes, Leitch has released his own urbane small-group albums, including 1986's On a Misty Night, 1995's Colours & Dimensions, and 2014's Landscape. Since 2015, Leitch has stepped away from performing due to medical issues, focusing on arranging and composing for his New Life Orchestra, which debuted with 2020's New Life. Born in 1944 in Ottawa, Leitch started playing guitar in his teens and was quickly drawn to jazz. Along with private lessons, he drew early inspiration from players like Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Kenny Burrell. In the '70s he relocated to Toronto, where he worked with Oscar Peterson, the Al Grey and Jimmy Forrest Quintets, Sadik Hakim, and others. In 1981, he made his debut as leader with Jump Street on the Jazz House label. A year later, he returned with Sometime in Another Life. By 1983, Leitch had moved to New York City, where he found himself in demand as a freelancer. He developed a longstanding creative partnership with saxophonist Jed Levy, spent time playing with Jack McDuff and Jaki Byard, and recorded with Woody Shaw. He also continued to lead his own groups, releasing his third solo album, 1986's On a Misty Night, 1988's Red Zone, 1990's Mean What You Say, and 1992's From Another Perspective. Leitch began to branch out, producing albums for Benny Green, Mike LeDonne, Steve Nelson, Billy Drummond, and others. He also moved into journalism and photography work, and contributed liner notes to myriad albums. More records followed in the '90s, including 1995's Colours & Dimensions with Claudio Roditi, Gary Bartz, John Hicks, Rufus Reid, and others. That same year, he and pianist Hicks paired for the duo session Duality. In 2000, Leitch released Blues on the Corner, which featured singer Kendra Shank, saxophonist Bobby Watson, pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Billy Hart. 2004's Autobiography found Leitch again working with saxophonist Levy, as well as pianist George Cables. In 2007, he released his first-ever completely solo guitar album, Self Portrait. He then paired with guitarist Chad Coe for 2010's Sympatico and delivered the 2014 trio date Landscape. Citing a series of medical issues, Leitch largely retired from performing in 2015, choosing instead to focus on arranging and composing for his large Peter Leitch New Life Orchestra, with whom he released 2020's New Life.
© Matt Collar /TiVo


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