PETE LEINONEN BIO
Bandleader, bassist, composer, arranger, producer Pete Leinonen, born in Seattle, began working as a professional musician in 1957 at the age of 15. A serious student of music, he earned a B.A. in music from the University of Washington, did graduate work with Robert Garfias in Ethnomusicology and John Wittwer in Repertoire, harmony and arranging. He took private lessons until the age of fifty, studying with such greats as Gary Peacock, Dave Holland, Sam Rivers, Jerome Gray, Chuck Metcalf, George Peckham, Christopher Leuba, James Harnet, and others. He has composed and recorded many songs, film scores, a ballet suite, and an opera, and produced recordings and videos for many other artists, locally and nationally known.
Pete is fortunate to have been employed in music the entire time, averaging 200 dates a year (in the 70's and 80's it was more like 300). In addition to performing with most of the well known Seattle musicians, he spent several years on the road in the 70's touring the United States, Canada, and Mexico with artists such as Ray Anthony and Rusty Draper among others .
Significant local runs included The Bill Smith Quartet (2 years), Gary Peacock (Gary played piano!) 3 years, Ken Cloud (15 years), Fred Radke (3 years), Candy Finch (2 years), The Northwest Chamber Orchestra (1 season), and John Holte's Radio Rhythm Orchestra (20 years). Although there have been offers to relocate in New York or LA, he has chosen to remain in Seattle, where he continues to enjoy a large clientele in the private party world, and produces, on average, one album per year.
The six groups listed on this web site have different names because each have distinct followings and/or styles developed at various venues over the years. However, they share a common pool of musicians, and the various repertoires may be combined and mixed, in different size ensembles, as the occasion requires.
PETE LEINONEN: REAL JAZZ MUSIC OUTLIVES RELICS
Jazz is not a school of music, it is someplace to go, and the jazz musician is the driver. The jazz nightclub is like a depot. People hang around with their baggage, kissing, talking, getting on board and going for a ride. That's how it is, and how it's made to act on the soul.
Much of the generation which grew up listening to and living with jazz (so many of whom are now stuffed into a static blend of memory and ambition) visit jazz clubs these days as if they were visiting a familiar museum to refresh the details of the past. They buy tickets to see a stunted, atrophied statue of something that is, in fact, alive and well someplace else. For whatever you've heard to the contrary, jazz is alive and it's about the same age as it was when it was born.
In other words, jazz is not some curious relic. It's still pumping blood, which is one reason why a new audience — younger and more often associated with other types of music — is showing up at the less stiff clubs to listen.
One of the best places to catch a ride is anyplace where Pete Leinonen's band is playing. A tight, original, 100-percent all-business band, Leinonen and company can take a tune from the '40s, shake it out like a bed sheet, and show you that it's still brand new. And they don't do it by distorting the work or mixing some kind of fake modernizing on it. They do it by playing the music.
This band isn't stuck in an era any more than jazz is. There is no distinction between the freshness of a work from the '30s and music written two days ago. In fact, the band features a lot of original compositions by Leinonen, who is also bandleader, arranger and bassist for the group. And if you've never seen Leinonen work this bass, that's a ride all by itself. •
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