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Jay Leonhart at Paschal Winery

In a long career as a soloist (more than 40 years of touring and recording) and a collaborator with artists from Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland to Carly Simon and Sting, bassist Jay Leonhart also has played, by his own account, "every great drummer there ever was."

With 15 solo albums to his credit, Leonhart these days does a one-man show called "The Bass Lesson." Leonhart will be in town for a while and will perform that show at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent.

During the performance he recites poetry, usually humorous, over the jazz lines he plays on an upright, acoustic bass. His high school class named him "most witty" in 1959, so he comes by this sort of thing honestly.

Leonhart was born on December 6, 1940, in Baltimore Maryland. His parents, sisters, and brothers (six kids in all), were all musically inclined. Everyone played the piano.

By the age of 7, Leonhart and his older brother Bil were playing banjos, guitars, mandolins and basses. They played country music, jazz — anything with a beat. In their early teens, Jay and Bil were television stars in Baltimore and were touring the country performing on their banjos.

When Leonhart was 14 he started playing the bass in The Pier Five Dixieland Jazz Band in Baltimore.

After studying at The Peabody Institute, Leonhart attended The Berklee School of Music and The Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, before leaving school to start touring with the traveling big bands of the late '50s and early '60s.

Leonhart moved to New York City at age 21 where he began playing for many of the great jazz musicians, big bands, and singers who were to be found there — artists like Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Tony Bennett, Marian McPartland and Jim Hall.

His career blossomed on two branches: hard-core jazz gigs and recording sessions in a spectrum of styles on acoustic and electric bass.

He married singer Donna Zier in 1968, and the couple raised two children, Michael and Carolyn, both of whom are musicians. They perform with Steely Dan, among other notables.

As a studio musician, Leonhart played with artists as varied as James Taylor, Ozzy Osbourne and Queen Latifah. Between 1975 and 1995 he was named The Most Valuable Bassist in the recording industry three times by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Noteworthy among Leonhart's credits is his work with classic song stylists such as Mel Tormé, Mark Murphy, Eartha Kitt, and Maureen McGovern, and his bass lines turn up on tracks by the likes of Graham Parker, Bette Midler and Paul Simon.

Leonhart's brother, Bil, lives in Ashland and has established himself as a much-in-demand jazz guitar player.

Some of the Leonhart tunes that pop up on the bass lesson and elsewhere are topical, like one about soon-to-be-ex-Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, which goes in part:

Grab your high heels and your lip gloss,

Walk the walk and do the Molly Brown,

Most men are going to love you, so

Dump the tundra Sarah and come on down.

Others are pure whimsey, like "Bass Aboard a Plane," a comic excursion into the travails of trying to fly with an unusually large instrument.

Leonhart's signature tune, "It's Impossible to Sing and Play the Bass," is a musical example of the "liar paradox" (example: this sentence is a lie). The song goes in part:

You see the bass is fretless

It's not like a guitar

On bass you spend your whole life

Wondering where the hell you are

It's got no little markers

Just a fingerboard so bare

And lots of notes

That often are not there ...

The Siskiyou Institute is sponsoring the concert. Tickets are $25 and $20 for Siskiyou Institute members.

For more information, e-mail info@siskiyouinstitute.com or call 488-3869.

Jay Leonhart at Paschal Winery