Guests include Chris Potter, Nels Cline, Donny McCaslin, John Ellis, Erik Friedlander and others
Billboard has premiered the new song from the anticipated album from The Michael Leonhart Orchestra, a take on Wu-Tang Clan’s “Da Mystery of Chessboxin.” The song follows MLO’s last single “Big Bottom/Lonely Woman” a surprising orchestral medley of songs from Spinal Tap and Ornette Coleman.
Hailed as “a blazing hot mess of awesome” by The New York City Jazz Record, the Michael Leonhart Orchestra (MLO) traverses a huge swath of musical terrain, guided by the highly developed ears, ceaselessly omnivorous tastes and playful yet meticulous artistry of its leader, Michael Leonhart. MLO will release their second full-length album, Suite Extracts Vol. I on August 30, via Sunnyside Records.
This surprising collection documents an aspect of the MLO’s mission: playing covers, but in the Leonhart way — with widely disparate material ranging from Fela Kuti to Spinal Tap to Howlin’ Wolf to Ornette Coleman curated into suites, forming anarchic yet coherent thoughts on many of Leonhart’s chief musical passions. The album features notable guests Chris Potter, Nels Cline, Donny McCaslin, John Ellis, Erik Friedlander and many others in the context of a vibrant and unclassifiable 20-piece ensemble.
Leonhart’s approach to the MLO cannot but be informed by his many other activities and wide-ranging credits: he’s a top-level jazz trumpeter and longtime member of Steely Dan; a gifted and distinctive pianist; a singer, songwriter and film composer; a session player with credits including the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson megahit “Uptown Funk“; an accomplished orchestrator (Nels Cline’s Lovers) and producer (Donald Fagen’s Sunken Condos, Sachal Vasandani’s Slow Motion Miracles). The polyglot musical worldview Leonhart has developed as a result stamps the MLO’s work at every moment.
The Michael Leonhart Orchestra will perform as part of their popular monthly residency at New York’s Jazz Standard on November 12th.
Track listing for Suite Extracts Vol. I
1. Alu Jon Jonki Jon (Fela Kuti)
2. La Fuga Di Derek (Leonhart original)
3. Big Bottom/Lonely Woman (Spinal Tap/Ornette Coleman)
4. Dance of the Maidens at Stonehenge (Leonhart original)
5. Built For Comfort (Howlin’ Wolf)
6. Jazz Odyssey/Lick My Love Pump (Spinal Tap)
7. Liquid Swords (Wu-Tang Clan)
8. Da Mystery of Chessboxin (Wu-Tang Clan)
9. Liquid Chamber (Leonhart original)
10. Shimmy Shimmy Ya/Glaciers of Ice (Ol’ Dirty Bastard/Raekwon)
11. The Ballad of St. Hubbins (Leonhart original)
12. Quiet Man is Dead Man Opposite People (The Daktaris/Fela Kuti)