Features and Reviews
Guest Performer Sonny Leyland
Carl Sonny Leyland has the boogie in his bones. Hearing him play takes one back to the rent parties and lowdown back alleys of the early part of the twentieth century. As a youth in Southampton, England, Leyland became fascinated by the rhythm and sounds of boogie woogie piano. Inspired by a friend's attempt at playing Jimmy Dorsey's Boogie Woogie, he immersed himself in the driving sounds created by Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis, as well as more obscure and primitive pianists such as Jimmy Yancey, Cripple Clarence Lofton and Montana Taylor.
Leyland began performing with a local blues band, and within a few years was featured at many European festivals, including the prestigious "Les Nuits de Jazz et Boogie," held annually in Paris, France. Always interested in America, in 1988 Leyland was able to immigrate and settled in New Orleans, where he headed his own trio. After spending several years there, Leyland moved west to Southern California. He continued to push his abilities as a musician by absorbing the styles of New Orleans traditional jazz, ragtime, and swing, giving these styles his own personal interpretation. His vocal abilities have continued to grow, and he sings with conviction and deep feeling.
Leyland has appeared at many festivals in the United States, including the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival, and the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival. He has performed with a diverse group of musicians, including Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys, Gremoli, Jerry McCain, Johnnie Johnson, and Champion Jack Dupree. Currently, Leyland can be seen as a solo performer, leader of the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, member of Hal's Angels, and Chris Kelly's Black and White New Orleans Jazz Band.