Toronto Pianist Jeremy Ledbetter to Release New Trio Recording 'Gravity'

The album will be out on September 13th, 2024.

By: Apr. 15, 2024
Toronto Pianist Jeremy Ledbetter to Release New Trio Recording 'Gravity'
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In a stirring follow-up to their 2018 debut Got a Light?, the Jeremy Ledbetter Trio returns with Gravity: a high-powered set of new original music, brimming with fresh ideas and the jaw-dropping virtuosity and musicality of Ledbetter on piano with Rich Brown (electric bass) and Larnell Lewis (drums). This is a group very much at home tackling intricate lines and rhythms, drawing from jazz, rock, funk and varied Latin genres, often at a high level of intensity.

The album title Gravity, Ledbetter explains, is about things pulling together, about what he calls an “unseen force” connecting the members of this trio. It’s an edge-of-the-seat feeling at times, as gravity is. “We want to take the listener to a different place, take them on a journey with us,” Ledbetter adds. “I want to put pictures in listeners’ heads; you could almost call them viewers instead of listeners. We want to draw people in. And I think the way to do that is to make it vivid and intense and emotional and energetic, to play with passion and emotion, guts and heart, blood and sweat, you know? We want to make something that you can’t look away from.”

The blend of acoustic piano and electric bass makes for a distinctly fluid, energized sound, one ideally suited to Ledbetter’s writing: “I’ve always sort of gravitated toward electric bass. I spent a lot of time in the Caribbean and Latin America, studying and playing and producing calypso and soca and Cuban and Venezuelan music. To me, one of the most interesting, challenging, virtuosic forms of any music is when it intersects with jazz. I came to jazz through those sort of Latin fusion genres, which predominantly use electric bass.”

Gravity hits you right from the start of “Flight” with its surging, infectious rhythmic drive and ultra-high technical demands. Throughout “Song of the River,” built around two Afro-Venezuelan rhythms, we hear rushing water—from Río Autana deep in the Venezuelan Amazon—as well as the rousing cumaco percussion of guests Yonathan “Morocho” Gavidia, Javier Suárez and Juan Carlos Segovia. The lively “Port of Spain,” Ledbetter adds, “is an homage to Trinidad’s Carnival, the greatest street party on Earth, and the steel bands that roam the streets of the capital, Port of Spain.”

The asymmetric heavy funk that begins “Gravity” leads to a building middle section with an uncannily synth-like Ebow solo from Brown on bass—a perfect illustration of his singular tonal gift on the instrument (“Rich is one of my favorite singers,” quipped the trio’s engineer). “The Stars in Her Sky” finds Brown again in the “singer” role, wringing emotion from Ledbetter’s beautiful melody, with its element of folk-pop tenderness. “Two Cousins” has polyrhythmic elements as it moves in and out of reggae, while the finale “Wonder” sends us off with a bright, soaring 12/8 feel as the band lets loose.

About Jeremy Ledbetter

Originally trained as a classical pianist, Jeremy Ledbetter studied jazz performance in Toronto before embarking on over a decade abroad, during which time he worked closely with some of the most prominent recording artists in Trinidad, Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela.

Today, Ledbetter is an integral part of the Canadian jazz and world music scenes, performing regularly with the Larnell Lewis Band, OKAN, Eliana Cuevas, Alexis Baró, the Joy Lapps Project, Rich Brown’s Abeng and others. He has worked as musical director to David Rudder, the Trinidadian calypso icon, for over 20 years. He has performed and recorded with some of the most renowned artists in Venezuela (Aquiles Baez, Jorge Glem, Eliana Cuevas), Trinidad (David Rudder, Machel Montano, Etienne Charles), Brazil (Hermeto Pascoal, Munir Hossn) and Cuba (Daymé Arocena, Elmer Ferrer). Ledbetter is also the driving force behind the Caribbean jazz ensemble CaneFire.

Ledbetter is a sought-after producer for a wide variety of projects. He won World Music Producer of the Year at the Independent Music Awards and has been nominated for Producer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. He won a Juno Award in 2021 for his work with OKAN, a women-led Afro-Cuban roots/jazz group. In 2023 he produced OKAN’s Okantomi (named one of the top Canadian albums of 2023 by CBC Music); Tamborilero by Uruguay’s Valeria Matzner; and Seré Libre by Eliana Cuevas and the Angel Falls Orchestra, which featured Jeremy’s work as orchestrator, conductor and producer of the album and accompanying videos. Ledbetter is also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who counts the steelpan, harmonica, mandolin and didjeridu among his weapons of choice.


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