Released: December 2022
Label: Innovative Leisure
I was recently fortunate enough to be sent a recent project involving Toronto saxophonist and composer Leland Whitty, which saw him contributing to the compositions of fellow Canadian saxophonist/composer Liam Mitro. As an unavoidable selling point, the press release rightly drew attention to Leyland’s long standing membership of BADBADNOTGOOD, which we shall now move swiftly on from.
Leland’s latest solo project ‘Anyhow’ offers from it’s opening moments yet another foray into the ever expanding universe of alternative jazz, consistently distanced rhythmically and sonically from the genre’s traditional origins, until Leland’s tailored alto tone assures that certainly a sympathy for the roots of jazz is respectfully present.
The project deepens track by track, from a fluttering decay of woodwinds, it journeys into room mic recordings of upright bass that open into warm cinematic orchestration. Gentle Rhodes gives way to impressive and transportive overdriven 70's fusion, all along led by continuous improvisation.
The theme writing shows increasing maturity that remains contemporary sounding via the wondrously modern production techniques and imaginative synthesiser. ‘Anyhow’ constantly surprises with its realm of influence, at one point drifting entirely away from its familiar stoicism and branching into the progressive psychedelia of groups like Gong - as with it’s fusion moment earlier on, these serve as more than mere impressions of such wondrous times in music, but result in an absolute re-awakening of them, a truly impressive feat.
The work is strident but with minimal bombast, and what bombast there may be is cleverly compressed, the project’s farewell and title track sees it returning to the cinematic cascade and tumble we are accustomed to, with a subtle yet firm assurance of originality in the strings. So studied are they, that one could be utterly convinced they were listening to orchestrated early 60’s Stan Getz or one of the many soundtracks of the period, Breakfast at Tiffanys certainly does come to mind. Yet again he remains planted firmly in the present through the consistent undertones of contemporary original production seamlessly fused with an intense dedication to the aforementioned influences, that warms the heart of any mid to 20th century media obsessive, which I absolutely am. I thoroughly enjoyed this project from an analytical perspective. The continued evidence that there are indeed others as fascinated and facilitated by the works of the past and equally inspired enough to create their own is comforting which is no doubt why Whitty is a sought after collaborator and live performer as well as a composer. It did not at any point suggest any sort of definitive image, more an ineffable beatific one, an assurance that all which came before us was not in vain, and all that lies before us may yet be our salvation.