Earlier this week, Grammy winning trumpeter, composer, producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter; Michael Leonhart. Released a new single from his debut album with The Michael Leonhart Orechestra; The Painted Lady Suite, “The Silent Swarm Over El Paso.”
The albums’ titled, inspired by the butterfly of the same name. Is what sparked Leonharts imagination for the collaboration, the butterfly’s incredible migration, which spans over six generations and 9,000 miles — twice that of the Monarch butterfly.
As a trumpeter, Michael has performed with rock legends Steely Dan since 1996, recording two albums with them, including 2000’s four-time Grammy winning Album of the Year, Two Against Nature, on which he was a featured soloist, arranger and conductor. He also appears on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Grammy-winning 2016 Record of the Year, “Uptown Funk.” Michael has composed music for stage and screen, including a song for Meryl Streep, whose performance he directed on the Decca soundtrack album Songs of Lahore.
The journey of the Painted Lady butterfly parallels the story and development of the Michael Leonhart Orchestra and The Painted Lady Suite — a large group takes a journey utilizing the past generations’ wealth of knowledge and arrives triumphantly in a kaleidoscopic array.
“‘The Silent Swarm Over El Paso’ is perhaps the most straight-up western-soundtrack type song in the whole suite, says Leonhart. “The soft strings and rolling percussion of the intro depict the vast plains of El Paso, Texas. The hypnotic groove and explosive anthem in the choruses portray the magnificence of the Painted Lady in full flight. The use of wordless vocals, vintage fuzz guitar and French horns was inspired in part by working on and off the last year on the score to Rockstar Games’ “Red Dead Redemption 2″ as well as my love of Morricone, David Axelrod and Quincy Jones.”
In addition to the Suite, the album features three of the earliest compositions Leonhart wrote specifically for MLO. “In the Kingdom of MQ” is a swaggering march featuring an electrifying solo by Donny McCaslin and is a tribute to Leonhart’s young son. Alternating between a 12/8 burlesque groove and a ¾ church feel, the jaunty “Music Your Grandparents Would Like” is the kind of jazz and rock hybrid Zappa would have loved, including a hard left turn as Nels Cline delivers a brain-melting solo. Lastly, “The Girl From Udaipur” establishes a trance-line ostinato with wordless choir as solos by Ian Hendrickson-Smith and Jay Leonhart bring the recording to a close.
The record release shows will take place at the Jazz Standard in New York City on July 17thand 18th and will feature Nels Cline. Ticket link and more tour dates.