Peter Leitch

Leitch, Peter (John). Guitarist, composer, b Ottawa 19 Aug 1944. He was raised in Montreal, where he began playing the guitar in his late teens and received informal guidance in jazz from Ivan Symonds and Bill White.

Leitch, Peter

Leitch, Peter (John). Guitarist, composer, b Ottawa 19 Aug 1944. He was raised in Montreal, where he began playing the guitar in his late teens and received informal guidance in jazz from Ivan Symonds and Bill White. Active there from the mid-1960s until 1977 (save for a period 1973-5 in Quebec City), he played jazz with Marius Cultier, Cisco Normand, and others, and worked in dance and show bands. He made his first recordings as an accompanist to the pianist Sadik Hakim and the saxophonists Ron Proby and Billy Robinson during this period (see Discography). Leitch was based 1977-83 in Toronto, where he played in the groups of Phil Nimmons, Jim Galloway, and others, and collaborated with the pianist George McFetridge in duo and small group settings. He toured in the USA with the trombonist Al Grey and the tenor saxophonist Jimmy Forrest in 1979 and travelled to the USSR with Fraser MacPherson in 1981.

After moving in 1983 to New York, Leitch performed in local clubs with his own groups and as a sideman to Pepper Adams, Jaki Byard, John Hicks, Bennie Wallace, and others. He also toured elsewhere in the USA and in Europe. Through his US and European (ie, Criss Cross) recordings he emerged in the late 1980s as an important traditionalist among jazz guitarists of the day. His style, technically immaculate and aggressively linear, remains relatively unmarked by the influence of rock. His wont to write tunes of some structural trickery, and his affection for similar challenges in the compositions of Thelonious Monk, suggest his interests as an improviser to be as much intellectual as emotional. His own recorded compositions include Jump Street, New Waltz for Susan, Fast Food, Exhilaration, Slugs, In the Far East, Red Zone, Urban Fantasy, and Fifty Up.

Leitch has returned often to Canada for club engagements and toured nationally in 1984, 1985, and 1988 with bands comprising, variously, pianists Fred Henke or Bernie Senensky, bassist Neil Swainson, and drummers Terry Clarke or Marvin 'Smitty' Smith.


Jump Street. Lukiwski trombone, McFetridge piano, Swainson or Davis double-bass, Clarke or Waits drums. 1981. Jazz House 7001/Pausa 7132

Sometime in Another Life. McFetridge piano. 1982. Jazz House 7002

Exhilaration. Adams bar saxophone, Hicks piano, Drummond double-bass, Hart drums. 1984. Uptown UP27.24

Red Zone. Lightsey piano, Drummond double-bass, Smith drums. 1985. Reservoir RSR-103

On a Misty Night. Swainson double-bass, Roker drums, 1986. Criss Cross 1026

Portraits and Dedications. Watson alto saxophone, Levy fl, Williams piano, Drummond double-bass, Smith drums. 1988. Criss Cross 1039

Mean What You Say. Hicks piano, Drummond double-bass, Smith drums. 1990. Concord Jazz CCD-4417

Trio/ Quartet '91. Swana trumpet and flhn, Swainson double-bass, Smith drums. 1991. Concord Jazz CCD-4480

as Sideman

Billy Robinson Evolution's Blend. 1972. RCI 375

Sadik Hakim London Suite. 1973. RCI 378

Grey/Forrest OD. 1980. Greyforrest 1001

New York Jazz Guitar Ensemble 4 on 6 x 5. 1986. Choice 6831

Woody Shaw Solid. 1986. Muse MR-5329

Jed Levy Good People. 1987. Reservoir RSR-105

Others with Oscar Peterson and Art Ellefson. Leitch was identified as Pedro Leche on Ron Proby's Evian (1972, RCI 374).

Further Reading

  • Rusch, Bob. 'Peter Leitch,' Cadence, vol 9, Dec 1983

    'Peter Leitch,' interview with Bill Smith, Coda, 212, Feb-Mar 1987

    Bourne, Michael. 'Profile: Peter Leitch,' Down Beat, vol 54, Sep 1987

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