Carl Sonny Leyland

Live and Lively

About 15 years ago a friend—knowing of my affinity for blues and boogie woogie—laid a tape on me by Carl Sonny Leyland. I’d never heard of him before and, as this was years before YouTube was invented—hey, I didn’t even have a computer then—I thought that, based on his rich, lazy singing style, his obscure song choices and solid playing, he was a black guy. Fast forward to 2008 when I finally got around to Googling him: major surprise! Not only is Leyland white but British, too! (Funny how almost all of the current boogie-woogie pianists are white—guys like Rob Rio, Axel Zwingenberger, the other Dave Matthews, and women like Honey Alexander and Marcia Ball.) This CD, a collection of solo recordings made over the past two years, is his latest. It’s 70 minutes of pure pleasure, with Leyland mixing classic boogie woogie (e.g., “Sunday Struggle,” an homage to Albert Ammons’ “Monday Struggle”), old favorites (“Cow Cow” Davenport’s “Cow Cow Blues,” “The Curse of an Aching Heart”) and powerhouse originals like “”Dry Spell Boogie” and “Oakland Woogie” with considerable flair and enthusiasm. Highly recommended!