Chad Coe & Peter Leitch

Chad Coe & Peter Leitch: Sympatico

$18.04 $20.98
Product Type: CD

Title: Sympatico
Label: CD Baby

Chad Coe with Peter Leitch : Sympatico The jazz guitar duo provides a nexus of endless fascination for six-string aficionados like myself. From it's earliest incarnations - Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang dueting on "Handful of Riffs" and "Blue Guitars" in 1928-1929 - to Dick McDonough/Carl Kress in the '30s, George Barnes/Carl Kress in the early '60s (1964's Guitars Anyone?), Joe Pass/Herb Ellis in the '70s (their great Two for the Road encounter in 1974 for Pablo), right up to Jim Hall/Bill Frisell in more recent times (2008's Hemispheres), the sound of two guitarists interacting, negotiating roles, sharing textures and exchanging improvisations while in the pursuit of swinging (sans rhythm section) is always a highly rewarding and sometimes confounding experience for me. How do they establish that perfect chemistry that allows them to walk the highwire without a net on every tune and safely find their way back to earth when it's all over? It takes a total of twelve strings, four hands, two brains and just a bit of telepathy between them, along with a lot of guile and a daring spirit of risk-taking. Chad Coe and Peter Leitch have all of the above in abundance on this stellar duet project. From the opening strains of Jackie McLean's "Melonae," full of dissonant harmonies in the slow, deliberate, mysterious head and fueled by swinging momentum in the solo sections, it is clear that newcomer Coe and veteran hard bop and straight ahead guitarist Leitch have a very special chemistry together indeed. It was forged over time in countless Saturday night meetings between the two guitarists at Leitch's home. Coe, the Mississippi-born guitarist and ardent Joe Passophile (he claims to have spent his 20s transcribing all of Pass' work), had initially sought out Leitch for lessons in 2001. The student-mentor relationship gradually developed into a solid friendship based on their mutual love of guitar and photography. "We've gone off shooting together, both here and in Mississippi, and he's been in my dark room," says Leitch, who has had a few exhibits around the country. "Photography is definitely something that Chad and I have a common interest in. In fact, we have the same kind of camera." In 2005, Coe suffered a serious wrist injury that went undiagnosed until 2008. In those intervening years, he experienced chronic pain that curtailed his playing and threatened to end his career just as it was beginning. "I was in the worst pain I ever felt for three years," he say, "and Peter saw me go through the whole thing. I was 34 years old and I just finished paying off my student loan from the Manhattan School of Music. And right when I felt like I was playing my best I tore something in my wrist lifting weights. The wrist atrophied and I really thought I would never play again. And I got seriously dark on it, but Peter was the one who helped me come back, in terms of encouraging me. He'd call me up and say, 'Bring your guitar over.' And I was down for it. But I could only play for a little while and it would suck, then I'd go home and I'd feel bad. But Peter kept calling me to come over, and finally we got some stuff going." Coe had gone through two surgeries to try and regain some strength in his wrist. And gradually, his chops started coming back to the point where he wanted to document the progress he was making in his weekly jams with Leitch. "He'd get pretty discouraged because of this wrist problem," Leitch recalls. "But I'd just encourage him to keep on playing." Which finally led to this project. Recorded at Avatar Studios with Jim Anderson presiding over the pristine production (he has an especially keen sensibility when it comes to capturing the natural woody quality and resonant tones of guitar), Sympatico is an apt title for this six-string summit. With Coe on the right (playing a vintage 1956 D'Angelico jazz box) and Leitch on the left (playing his trusty Hofner Atilla Zoller model axe that he's had since the '90s), the two breeze through the intricate twists and turns of Bud Powell's "Parisian Thoroughfare" with relative ease, reharmonizing parts and improvising with impunity over Leitch's fresh new arrangement. "When we first talked about doing this project, we decided we didn't want it to sound like a jam session," says Leitch, "because there's so much of that out there. Often, guys just sit down and play 'All The things You Are.' And that's cool, but we wanted to make it a little more interesting by programming something a little different." Leitch also contributes an inventive arrangement for Thelonious Monk's "Light Blue," which has the two guitarists engaging in tight unison on the tricky head but in slightly off intonation for a jangling "big sounding" effect. As Leitch explains, "Those instruments - any guitars - are never really dead in tune as compared to, say, a well-tuned piano. So you get some overtones clashing, which gives you the bigger sound when they're playing together. And I love that effect." Their faithful renditions of Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation" and the buoyant "The Night Has 1,000 Eyes" both possess requisite elements of swing and syncopation. Leitch also contributes two originals in his authentic sounding "Tango Noir" (originally written for an experimental film by Pamela Timmins) and his meditative and moody "Shadows." Coe adds three stirring unaccompanied pieces to the collection - a gorgeous interpretation of Monk's melancholy "'Round Midnight" along with a rendition of Jimmy Raney's "Signal" and his own ode to mentor Leitch, "Peter the Great." And they close with a rousing, earthy "West 53rd Street Blues" that is played strictly off-the-cuff and has the duo channeling their inner Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. Not only is Sympatico an artistic success, it also represents Coe's personal triumph over the injury that threatened to put an end to his promising career. But as Leitch says of his partner's playing, "It's getting better all the time." Here's hoping for more in the future from this fresh new voice on the jazz guitar scene. - Bill Milkowski Bill Milkowski is a contributor to Jazz Times, Jazziz and Guitar Player magazines. He is also the author of "JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius" (Backbeat Books)

1.1 Melonae
1.2 Parisian Thoroughfare
1.3 Round Midnight - Chad Coe
1.4 The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
1.5 Light Blue
1.6 Tango Noir
1.7 Invitation
1.8 Signal - Chad Coe
1.9 Shadows
1.10 Peter the Great - Chad Coe
1.11 West 53rd Street Blues

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