Latest Recording.

Leaves Will Speak
  • Released
  • Catalog
  • Label
    Lilah Music

Cover Art for Leaves Will Speak:
Laurie Skantzos, Blips II.
Mixed media work on panel


1. You Too 6:38
2. Yellow Streams 3:02
3. Essentia 4:39
4. Danza 1:55
5. In the Woods Kids 5:38
6. Fun at Fluff ’s End 7:32
7. Leaves Will Speak 4:05
8. Circling 3:34
9. Jazzy Dog 3:04
10. Mezzonia 4:20
11. Na-Roh-Pah 4:00
12. Air Nature 5:12
13. Short Trip: To the Point 1:37
14. The Then New Music 4:47
15. October Lilt 2:38
16. When Mina Smiles 1:11
17. TropiCanada 2:52
18. In the Olive Grove 2:25
Total Time: 69:20

Listen to Tracks

  1. 1Yellow Streams (Improvisation)
  2. 2In the Woods Kids
  3. 3Mezzonia
  4. 4Leaves Will Speak

Leaves Will Speak is now available in Toronto at the following locations and at as of December 1st, 2013.:

Remenyi House of Music
210 Bloor St W Toronto
(416) 961-3111

572 College, Toronto
(416) 537-1620

Israel’s Judaica
1172 Eglinton Ave West (close to Eglington W. subway)
(416) 256-1010
441 Clark Ave. W. Thornhill
(905) 881-1010

Liner Notes

It had been my intention for some years to make a solo guitar recording, yet precisely how this CD would be shaped remained in question until the recording process actually began. I knew that, while I maintain a strong interest in performing jazz standards, klezmer, Latin American, and classical/new music, this recording would focus on my original compositions, those rooted mainly in modern jazz yet embracing the aforementioned traditions. What I didn’t realize, until the first day of the sessions, was the degree to which the huge world of free (or open) improvisation, central to my work for many years, would influence the project. More than working with any pre-existent music or themes, I found myself on those first days deeply, and spontaneously, drawn to creating anew in front of the microphone.

Thus six of the tracks, all titled after-the-fact, were created from an emergent idea, be it in the form of a melodic motif, harmonic sequence, play of varying timbres, or, in one case, an investigation of a microtonal tuning—the latter spurred on by having chosen, for once, not to wrestle with a new set of “unsettled-in-pitch” classical guitar strings!

My love of composing, where I attempt to bring my various influences into a coherent whole, and of improvisation, where I aim for the same via a much more spontaneous process, lie at the heart of this recording. It is the play between these two complimentary worlds that fuels me: improvising within and around fixed forms, and being very compositional within improvised sections of a fixed work or within free improvisation.

That I choose to be compositionally focussed in the six free improvisation tracks leads me to ask myself the following: If my leanings as a free improviser are far more compositional than stream of consciousness, then why not simply notate, and perform my inscribed intentions? Alas, it is that in-the-moment creation, that discovery of one new sound leading to another, and another, which offers both performer and listener a unique quality of excitement.

I have yet to speak to my vehicle of expression, my primary instrument, the nylon-string guitar, generally referred to as the classical guitar. Its uncommon place in the world of jazz and improvised music certainly deserves to be mentioned. The classical guitar has been central to my musical journey since the late 1970s. When I first embarked on this voyage, I soon realized that there existed then, as now, only a minor tradition of modern (non-Brazilian) jazz and free improvisation played on the classical guitar. Ralph Towner, with whom I studied in 1980, was my principal role model. Under Towner’s guidance, I soon began to see that from the standpoint of articulation, phrasing, volume, dynamics, sustain, and virtually all other elements save tuning, I was embarking on a journey of discovery with a musical instrument significantly different from the electric guitar. This blossoming of a greater love and the demands of classical technique conspired: I let go of playing the electric guitar in 1980. Today, having played the nylon-string guitar for thirty-four years, and the piano even longer, I must acknowledge that despite my enduring passion for the piano, its repertoire and exponents, the nylon-string classical guitar is my soul mate of instruments.

Playing solo on any instrument is an exciting challenge and the guitar offers, as Beethoven put it, “an orchestra in your lap,” a vast array of sounds and colours. I like to employ contrasting registers and timbres for orchestral effect, creating the kind of “conversations” one is accustomed to experiencing between instruments.

Solo playing also offers unique challenges and opportunities with regard to rhythm: while a solo performer is released from following or intentionally contrasting the common rhythmic thread, s/he must discover, alone, ways to sustain interest and momentum. The very forward-moving triplet-based rhythms of the jazz, swing, tradition are present on this recording, as are symmetrical eighth-note rhythms, and sometimes the two are juxtaposed within a work. I often, while in a metre, drop/add beats to create interest. I also like to imply the time rather than lay it down specifically, emphasizing the elasticity inherent in rhythm (from the Greek, “rythmos,” meaning flow). This “bending” of the time is something that I am very fond of. My work as a practitioner of Dalcroze Eurhythmics—a hands-on, movement & music approach to education, which emphasizes how the elastic flow of musical rhythm is rooted in bodily movement—has without doubt informed my approach to performing.

The classical guitar is not a big sounding instrument in the way a piano (or trumpet!) can be, and my wish is to invite you, the listener, into my intimate, orchestral, world; if I can draw you into my quietest moments, hopefully I can make the guitar appear to be very grand too. My desire is to offer you music of a wide dynamic and emotional range, and that my music will inspire you on your journeys, musical and otherwise.
Brian Katz, Paris, August 2012