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MP3 Jennifer Leitham - The Real Me

All of Jennifer''s talents are on full display here, her playing, composing, arranging and even singing create music that appeals across the boundaries of Jazz, Classical, Rock, Folk, and Pop, with enough artistic integrity to be enjoyed by all.

11 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Jazz Fusion, JAZZ: Jazz Vocals

Jennifer Leitham

"The Real Me"

Featuring The Jennifer Leitham Trio

Jennifer Leitham left handed bass, vocals
Josh Nelson piano
Randy Drake drums, udo
Special guest John Clayton bass on "Riff Raff"

--Short Bio & "The Real Me" Liner Notes--
Jennifer Leitham Short Bio:

Jennifer Jane Leitham has been referred to by noted jazz critic Leonard Feather as the "left-handed virtuoso of the upright bass." In addition to her successful performance career, Jennifer has appeared on over 100 recordings with some of the giants of jazz music. In addition, she has recorded 6 highly acclaimed CDs of her own.

Jennifer is best known for her decade long stints with both Mel Torme’ and Doc Severinsen. She has appeared with many distinguished artists including Woody Herman, George Shearing, Gerry Mulligan, Peggy Lee, Joe Pass, Cleo Laine, Louis Bellson, Pete Rugolo, Bill Watrous, and numerous others. She has also been a member of the Tonight Show All-Stars, The Woody Herman Thundering Herd, Benny Carter Quintet, Bob Cooper Quartet, and more.

Jennifer has been invited to perform as a featured artist or group member at almost every major jazz festival in North America and many overseas. She is also enthusiastically received as a presenter at workshops and clinics around the country, including the International Society of Bassists convention this past year.

Jennifer''s own highly regarded CD''s include Leitham Up, The Southpaw, Lefty Leaps In, Live ! , and Two for the Road, (a duo performance with guitar virtuoso Jimmy Bruno). Her new CD, The Real Me features her original compositions, arrangements, and for the first time, her singing voice!

Words of high praise for Jennifer Jane Leitham and these recordings come from many of today''s jazz critics and publications :

"Combining her astonishing virtuosity with some exquisite soul, Jennifer Leitham brings in her trio (pianist Josh Nelson, drummer Randy Drake) to celebrate the release of her latest album, The Real Me. Some nice tunes on that one."[Brick Wahl-LA Weekly]

"prodigious technique and improvisatory prowess promptly erase any emotion except awe." [J. Robert Bragonier-52nd St. Jazz].

"As an improviser, Leitham has few peers." [Bill Kolhaase-LA Times]

"a unique level.......to effortlessly improvise with imagination, incredible skill and even a bit of humor." [Jim Ferguson, Jazz Times]

" swinging high-energy performances and remarkable technique....." [John T. Bitter-musicHound Jazz]

"The Real Me" Inside Cover Liner Notes:

Helen''s Notes:

I am PROUD to be a part of this project! I think Jennifer’s courage and joy are inspiring and infectious. She seems so wonderfully happy with who she is, and so accepting of her journey. I mention her bio because I think people who did not know her as John will wonder where she came from and why this disc is called The Real Me. I think people should know what she’s celebrating.

Jennifer Leitham (pronounced LIGHT em) began life as John Leitham. In fourth grade, he participated in a talent show with three other kids, each playing a different member of the Beatles. John played Paul, who played the bass left-handed, and thus began a career as an ambidextrous person who played left-handed bass.

In his professional life, John had played with numerous big names, including Woody Herman, George Shearing, Bob Cooper, Bill Watrous, and Doc Severinsen. He was Mel Torme’s bassist for over ten years.

For most of that time, he was also a bandleader, recording five discs under his own name. He married, settled in L.A., but all the while, struggled to deal with and keep secret his gender identity.

Finally, in a process that was lengthy and painful, both physically and emotionally, he transitioned into Jennifer and she has never been happier!

She revels in her freedom and her new body. She is exuberant about the path her life has taken. She is not shy about discussing her transition, the years of trying to hide her feelings, the pain of the process, nor the joy in the outcome. She dares to be herself and dares us to know her.

I''ve listened to “The Real Me”, and it''s WONDERFUL!!! This trio sounds great! Being used to the "old" recordings of "The Studio City Stomp," "Stick It In Your Ear," "Lefty Leaps In," "Split Brain," and "The Trashman Cometh," it was a surprise to hear how full they all sounded without the horns of the originals. But the biggest surprise was hearing Jennifer sing! GREAT lyrics and she sounds really good!! Who knew she could sing?! It is, I must confess, a strange experience to hear her singing voice because I can hear the voice I used to know in it. It is an experience unlike any I''ve had before. BUT, it will not affect most people like that, I know. They''ll just dig it! I was typing notes while listening to the disk the first time, and wasn''t paying attention to the order of the tunes and all of a sudden I heard -- or thought I heard -- "Hey, Jude." I looked at the tune titles..."Beat the Meatles"... very funny!!!"

Her music, so often very personal in conception, is exhorting all of us to be ourselves, to celebrate life, to find the humor in our condition, to know it can be endured and conquered!

I think her experience will help others. People need to know that they are free to be who they are! And that they should feel good about it!

On the other hand, her music stands on its own. No mention need be made about her gender at all!

Helen Borgers
Afternoon Drive Jazz Host

Jennifer’s Notes:

As Helen mentioned, some of these tunes have already been recorded. The conundrum of having my former name attatched to my most popular songs inspired me to re-record them in order to show my proper identity. The radio hosts won’t have to explain my situation anymore!

I''ve been playing with my current trio on a regular basis for a few years, and we''ve grown immeasurably since our first performances. Josh and Randy are accomplished players and wonderful people. They are among the finest musicians I''ve ever had the privilidge of playing with. Their contributions here are beyond measure.

Helen focused on "Beat the Meatles". I wrote it as a tribute, as the Beatles were a big influence in my early years. I wrote a crazy quilt of melodies lifted from Beatles songs juxtaposed over rhythmic and harmonic motifs based on Beatle ideas.

"The Altered Blues" is a musical mood piece that deals with Gender Identity Disorder. I named it for my surgeon, Dr. (Gary) Alter. It contains a continuous drone of "D" and "G" notes throughout. They never go away, and are prevalent in each chord. Long ago in my preschool days my family lived near a church that rang its bells all day long. There were two notes, "D" and "G". Those "D" and "G" notes found their way into my subconcious.

Gender Identity Disorder is a similar thing: it''s always there; it doesn''t go away. You can try to fight it but you won''t be successful. It''s only learning to accept GID and “make music” with it that enables you to have a happy, healthy life. And that''s what happens in "The Altered Blues". We try to make music with those notes that won''t go away.

"Split Brain" is a tune that I wrote a long time ago. My ex had a degree in Experimental Psychology and thought (back in our early years together), that my conundrum was the result of a condition known as a "Split Brain". One side of the brain doesn''t work well with the other. I titled the tune back in 1984. As it turns out, my ambidexterity proves that my brain is actually more integrated than most people! The lyric is a more recent development. It''s become a tune that is about acceptance of one''s true self and the ramifications involved. I kept the title just to be perverse.

"Riff Raff" was written at the request of the founder and producer of the Topeka Jazz Festival, the late Jim Monroe. This recorded version is dedicated to his memory. One of the highlights of the festival was a set in which all of the bassists played as an ensemble. Each bassist was asked to contribute an arrangement. I wrote "Riff Raff" for the 2004 performance. There were six basses to write for, all unique artists, and I tried to tailor each part to fit their expertise. The most difficult part was written for John Clayton and he played it with amazing mastery. I was very impressed. While conversing with John at a social occasion I mentioned that I was planning to record the piece and he volunteered his services. I was planning to overdub all the parts myself, but it made sense to add another human voice in order to keep the piece from becoming robotic. John made the session magical when he played his parts on Ray Brown''s bass. We layered our parts two at a time, starting at the bottom, then the top, then we filled in the middle. What transpires is a musical jigsaw puzzle of me trading two bar phrases with myself, John trading phrases with himself, and every other permutation of that imaginable. It''s best appreciated through headphones. My amazing engineer, Andy Waterman, spread the seven parts across the sonic spectrum, just as you would hear it performed in concert by seven basses. (I added a part at the session).

“C.O.D.” is the first tune I’ve ever written in anger. It deals with a particularly frustrating musical and personal experience. I only reveal the full title in private. (Guess I still hide some things).

“Keni’s Song” is for my dear friend who has been a welcome angel and a big part of my journey. She was with me through my first hospital experiences and was invaluable. My surgery was more difficult than most and my recovery was a long process. Playing my bass was the activity that kept my spirits up. I couldn’t accept gigs that required me to carry my bass and gear. Consequently I spent long hours practicing and eventually performing alone in my friend Ginger’s living room. The happy result was that I developed a sizeable repitoire of solo pieces. I plan on recording a CD of all solo bass pieces in the future.

"Stick It In Your Ear" was a song that I wrote in the early ''90''s. I was thinking of Mel Torme'' when I wrote it and really wanted him to sing the vocal. I recorded it on "The Southpaw" as an instrumental and played it for him. He approved of the melody, but I never worked up the nerve to show him the lyric I had written. I tore up the lyric sheet a long time ago and had forgotten most of the words, but my newly resurrected singing voice led me to write a new set.

I became a musician because of my singing voice. I was a soloist in my high school chorus, and it drew the attention of the rock and roll garage band set. The first few years of my musical career I held an electric bass and sang. My ability to hear a line on a record and play it while singing were my entry tools into the trade of being a professional musician. I eventually started a long, intense period of private study that introduced me to my lifelong obsession with the string bass and higher forms of music. My high pitched voice was something of an embarrasment, as my secret self was manifesting in many ways. I stopped singing for close to thirty years because of the fear and paranoia that surrounded my public persona.

There is no reason to hide anymore and unlocking my singing voice has been a source of great joy. I plan to strive to improve as a vocalist in the same manner as I''ve always striven to improve as a bassist, musician, and human being.

Jennifer Leitham
July 14, 2006

The Real Me
Sinistral Records SRCD-0020

Producer: Jennifer Leitham
Associate Producer: Scott Whitfield

Recorded April 10, 11, and May 9, 2006
Recorded, mixed, and masterered at:
Entourage 5.1 Studios, North Hollywood, CA
Engineer: Andy Waterman
Assistants: Ashburn Miller, Stacey Carson

Cover and inside portrait photography: Mary Ann Halpin
Makeup and hair: Donna Gast
Trio photograph: Jeff Michelson

Jennifer is an artist/clinician for Hofner String Instruments and plays the Hofner String Bass model 596V. She uses Acoustic Image amplification, Raezer’s Edge Speakers, Wilson Pickup Systems, and LaBella Strings.

Jennifer Leitham “The Real Me”

All compositions and arrangements by Jennifer Leitham (BMI)Sinistral Music
copyright 2006 all rights reserved

1. C. O. D. 4:44
Jennifer Leitham bass, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

2. The Studio City Stomp 4:53
Jennifer Leitham bass, fingersnaps, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums, fingersnaps, Scott Whitfield fingersnaps

3. Turkish Bizarre 8:26
Jennifer Leitham bass, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums, udo

4. Stick It In Your Ear 4:24
Jennifer Leitham bass, vocal, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

5. Beat The Meatles 6:04
Jennifer Leitham bass, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

6. Keni’s Song 5:42
Jennifer Leitham bass

7. The Altered Blues 6:39
Jennifer Leitham bass, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

8. Split Brain 5:11
Jennifer Leitham bass, vocal, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

9. Lefty Leaps In 5:16
Jennifer Leitham bass, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

10. Riff Raff 4:06
Jennifer Leitham bass 1, 4, 5, 7, John Clayton bass 2, 3, 6

11. The Trashman Cometh 8:02
Jennifer Leitham bass, Josh Nelson piano, Randy Drake drums

Contact Jennifer Leitham

c/o Sinistral Music
11333 Moorpark St #110
Studio City, Ca 91602

Website: https://www.tradebit.com

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