Real music is alive and well. In an age when musical genres have blurred, thanks to artists like Kamasi Washington, Snarky Puppy, Thundercat and Robert Glasper, elements of jazz have burst out of their traditional boundaries and invaded hip-hop, r&b, even pop, like never before. Now LP, Leeds/Peterson, join their ranks with a debut CD, “No Words”.
Enthusiastic young audiences all over the world have embraced the “new music”. It was never more apparent than when LP tore the roof off the legendary First Avenue club in Minneapolis on a bill with soul star D’Angelo. With guest Questlove joining LP’s Petar Janjic on a second drum kit, the band captivated the crowd of 1500 earning a rousing acceptance of the type accorded only the most dynamic of jam bands.
The success of LP shouldn’t come as a surprise given the lengthy resume’s Leeds and Peterson boast. Early on Eric’s artistic cred was noted thanks to his collaborations with Prince that resulted in the influential Madhouse albums. Besides touring with Prince for several years, Leeds was also a member of the exciting Latin jazz outfits led by Sheila E and Esther Godinez. A frequent guest with many artists passing through Minneapolis, Eric has shared the stage with Roy Hargrove, D’Angelo, David Sanborn, Christian McBride and Eddie Palmieri. Growing up in an iconic family of musicians, Paul Peterson enjoyed early success as a vocalist with his own pop albums but never strayed far away from his enviable jazz chops. He has toured and/or recorded with a long list of artists including David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Joe Sample, George Benson and Bob James.
Leeds and Peterson seem meant to make music together. They first met as members of The Family, Prince’s short-lived but mercurial band that hit the charts with “Screams Of Passion” and recorded the original, definitive version of “Nothing Compares To You”. Some years later, they reunited when The Family morphed into fDeluxe. Together they have evolved from musicians whom others wanted in their bands into leaders whom others aspire to play with. Now, with LP, they have shed any restraints and let their music flow free.
LP began as a repertory of sorts with alternating personnel and ever-changing material, drawing from the cream of Minneapolis musicians like Stokely Williams and Ricky Peterson. Eventually phenom drummer Petar Janjic and keyboard whiz Peter Schimke became LP regulars but the only constant guarantees of an LP gig are Leeds, Peterson and whomever best fits the music on any particular day. Eric is as liable to be playing flute, keyboards or percussion as his signature saxophones. For LP Paul is primarily on bass but is equally fluid on guitar and keyboards. There are certain themes and attitudes that are consistent but the goal is always dynamic music that’s capable of surprising the band as much as their audiences – an accomplishment only feasible for a duo as versatile and creative as Eric and Paul.
So there really are no words for “No Words”, it’s all about the music. The CD boasts guests like Questlove, guitarist Mike Stern (best known for his stint with Miles Davis) and master trumpeter Brian Lynch (a long time collaborator with both Eddie Palmieri and the late Phil Woods). Leeds and Peterson composed all of the material and it’s a composite of the vast experience and styles of music in their backgrounds – jazz, Latin, soul, funk are all in there – swimming around in a manner that defies category.