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The Michael Leonhart Orchestra Brightens Spirits For the New Year, on Morning Jazz

Michael Leonhart could be a chameleon.

He’s a trumpeter who composes for both small and large ensembles, even as he serves as an arranger and producer (and trumpeter) for Steely Dan. What a hip treat it was to have Michael come to Morning Jazz with his 15-piece orchestra, which has a monthly residency at Jazz Standard.

The result was an hourlong Invention Convention, featuring rapper JSWISS on Eric B & Rakim’s mashup of Herbie Hancock’s “Oliloqui Valley,” some late-‘60’s Eddie Harris, and John Scofield’s “Camp Out,” a reimagining of Allan Sherman’s 1963 novelty hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter From Camp).”

We’ll also hear a piece from Leonhart’s Painted Lady Suite, inspired by a father/son trip to a museum to explore butterflies. The orchestra takes flight again tonight as part of NPR’s four-hour “Toast of the Nation” broadcast, beginning at 8 p.m.

The Michael Leonhart Orchestra:

Michael Leonhart, leader/trumpet; JSWISS, rap; Ludovica Burtone and Leanor Falcon, violins; Chris Bullock, flutes; Scott Wendholt and John Bailey, trumpets; Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophone; Jason Marshall, baritone saxophone; Ray Mason, trombone; Jeff Nelson, bass trombone; Robbie Mangano, guitar; Danton Boller, bass; Elizabeth Pupo-Walker, percussion; Kevin Raczka, drums.

Audio mix: Corey Goldberg

In jazz radio, great announcers are distinguished by their ability to convey the spontaneity and passion of the music. Gary Walker is such an announcer, and his enthusiasm for this music greets WBGO listeners every morning. This winner of the 1996 Gavin Magazine Jazz Radio Personality of the Year award has hosted the morning show each weekday from 6:00 -10:00. And, by his own admission, he's truly having a great time.