From afar Monte Leister can be seen as an intimidating figure, after all he certainly isn’t a small man. But when you get up close, and begin to speak with him, you realize he is far from intimidating, and is actually very warm and kind.
The Leister Quartet
Monte Leister has long lived a musical life, performing for years and releasing multiple albums. But when you talk with him about music, you get the impression he loves playing in the Leister Quartet more than anything else he’s done musically.
He gets to play with his sons.
Playing With his Sons
“I love making music with my sons,” Leister said. “I love that they are able to play at a professional level and that they want to. As a father I love it.”
The ages of his sons?
Miles (pictured right) is just 16, and Zion (pictured left) is just 13.
If you were just to hear them play, you wouldn’t believe their ages. They both play well above their ages, and certainly will only work to refine their crafts as they grow older.
A Grand Release Party
On April 28th, 2018, the Leister Quartet released a full length live album, Live at The Atrium.
The album’s release was accompanied by a show, at the same venue where it was recorded.
“The reception has been well,” Leister said. “There’s been a lot of excitement about it.”
The Leister Quartet has certainly been gaining some steam, but is it just a lot of smoke? Or is there really something there?
Here’s our review of Live at The Atrium.
Their Newest Release
“We wanted to make an old school Jazz album, like Blue Note records used to make,” Leister said. “Very influenced by giants, like: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, and Brian Setzer”
The album is 11 tracks long and its track listing is as follows:
- Sugar – S. Turrentine
- Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – D. Ellington, B. Russel
- Fly Me to the Moon – B. Howard
- All of Me – S. Simons, G. Marks
- Song for My Father – H. Silver
- Up Jumped Spring – F. Hubbard
- My Romance – R. Rodgers, O Hammerstein II
- Dancing on the Ceiling – R. Rodgers, L. Hart
- Rise and Run Blues – M. Leister
- Have You Met Miss Jones – R. Rodgers, L. Hart
- Well You Needn’t – T. Monk, M. Ferro
The album is mostly comprised of covers, with the only original song being “Rise and Run Blues”.
“We just chose tunes that we liked to play. Tunes that are fun to play,” Leister said.
My favorite tracks on the album would have to be tracks 2 and 9, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and “Rise and Run Blues” respectively.
On “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, Miles’ upright bass playing is the real driving force of the song and lays the foundation. It also has the best vocals on the album, and I kept finding myself humming the melodies and singing the words in my head.
“Rise and Run Blues” stood out to me on the album, particularly for the saxophone work, performed by Jay Fenner. This is an instrumental track,but Fenner’s saxophone takes the place of a vocalist and just wails away. The guitar solo in the middle of the song stands out as well. Also important to note that it is the only original song on the album.
The entire album has a good sound to it, a very jazzy sound. I really like that it’s a live album, the improvisations on some of the longer tracks, like “Song For My Father” and “Up Jumped Spring”, are a highlight. It is produced very well, and everything is clear. Between all four players, there really are no weaknesses, but I feel like the strength of their sound comes from Miles’ bass playing and Fenner’s sax.
Overall, I would give the album a 7.8/10. I really enjoyed listening to it, and if you’re a fan of jazz then this is right up your alley. On their next album I would hope for more original content, in the same vein as “Rise and Run Blues”. The most exciting part of this group is their potential. Miles Leister, Zion Leister, and Jay Fenner are all very young, and only have room to grow.
This album is definitely worth a listen to, and I look forward to their next album, and seeing where these young players are headed.
Click here to purchase the new album. Monte Leister also teaches guitar lessons at Coffey Music on Main Street, Westminster. Visit musicwithmonte.com to contact him and inquire about his or the band’s services.