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Leighton's Recommendations

This is a list of resources mentioned by Leighton Harrell during his interview with Hillary Chu. The resources are listed alphabetically.

Ambrose Akinmusire


Where the river goes, available at the Music Library, with Wolfgang Muthspiel, guitar; Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Brad Mehldau, piano; Larry Grenadier, double bass; Eric Harland, drums. 

Ambrose Akinmusire is an American musician who pushes the boundaries of jazz, incorporating hip hop and classical elements to create new sounds. In 2021 his album, on the tender spot of every calloused moment, was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in the 2021 Grammy Awards.  In particular, Andrew Adridge recommends the last track of the album, "Hooded Procession (read the names outloud)".

Members of the U of T community can listen to Ambrose's music on Qwest TV.

Amiri Baraka


Digging by Amiri Baraka (2009), available at the Music Library and as an eBook through UTL.

Amiri Baraka (also known as Imamu Amiri Baraka, previously known as Everett Leroy Jones, Leroy Jones, and LeRoi Jones) is an American poet and playwright known for representing the experiences and suppressed anger of Black Americans as they face white supremacy and systemic discrimination.

You can find works by and about Amiri Baraka at several U of T libraries.

Andrew Downing 

Andrew Downing is a Toronto-based double bass player, cellist, composer, and educator. While his primary focus is in jazz, he also performs classical chamber music, improv, folk and roots music, and world music. He is known for tuning his bass in fifths, an octave lower than a cello.

Andrew currently teaches at the U of T Faculty of Music, and you can hear several of his performances at the Faculty in the Music Library Collection of Faculty Events.

Aretha Franklin


1987 recording by Aretha Franklin, One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, available at the Music Library.

Aretha Franklin was an American soul singer, pianist, and songwriter. Over a 60 year career, Aretha created an impressive discography and accumulated many prestigious awards and recognitions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Grammy's Living Legends Award.

There are many books and recordings by or about Aretha Franklin available through the University of Toronto Libraries, inlcuding her album One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Aretha's gospel album, Amazing Grace, and others are available at the Toronto Public Library.

Ben Wolfe


Ben Wolfe's CD From Here I See, available at the Music Library.

Ben Wolfe is a New York bassist, composer, and bandleader. In describing his music, he has said “Much of the music I’ve composed; particularly the music that includes strings, I think of as chamber music within a jazz context.”

Several recordings from Ben are available at the Music Library.

Black Canadian Studies (Course CDN335H1)  

Black Canadian Studies is an interdisciplinary course offered at the U of T Faculty of Arts and Science which interrogates the constitution of blackness in Canada. Students study race and ethnic relations, alongside other identity formations such as class, gender and sexuality. Topics include media, education, law, immigration and mobility, urbanism, work, political representation and the arts. 

Chasing Trane 

Released in 2017, Chasing Trane is a documentary film exploring the life and music of John Coltrane. Over a 30 year career as a saxophonist, Coltrane played with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath, and the Miles Davis Quintet. The documentary explores his importance and impact on the musical world.

The documentary is available at the Toronto Public Library.

Dave Young


The Dave Young Quintet, Mainly Mingus, available at the Music Library.

Dave Young is a jazz and classical bassist, and is currently a sessional professor at the U of T Faculty of Music. He has performed with the Edmonton Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony, and the Hamilton Philharmonic, and in 1993 won the Juno Award for "Best Mainstream Jazz Recording" with his album, Fables and Dreams.

Several of his recordings are available through the Music Library.

Duke Ellington


Duke Ellington and Claude Bolling, Black, Brown, and Beige : A Drum is a Woman (1989), available at the Music Library.

Duke (Edward Kennedy) Ellington was an American pianist who is often considered the greatest jazz composer and bandleader of his time. He was an originator of big-band jazz, and his career encompasses over 50 years, thousands of scores, and the founding of the renowned Duke Ellington Band.

Duke Ellington's album, Black Brown and Beige Suite (1958), features gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Jackson is often known as the "Queen of Gospel Song," and throughout her career gained fame around the world. She was also an active participant in the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

East Carolina University (ECU) Band Camp

The Summer Band Camp is offered by East Carolina University's School of Music. The Jazz workshops are taught by Carroll V. Dashiell, Jr. who is an associate professor of music at ECU, director of jazz ensembles, and a professor of string/electric bass. Dashiell has performed with the National Symphony and the Washington Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as with Dr. Billy Taylor, Ethel Ennis, Ray CHarles, and Jennifer Holiday. 


A trap-jazz collective, game.set.trap plays trap hits in 4 different jazz-based formats: Bit. Byte. Link. Macro.

  • Bit - drums.bass.keys (trio) 
  • Byte - drums.bass.keys.horn/guitar (4tet/5tet) 
  • Link - drums.bass.chords.3horns (6tet/7tet) 
  • Macro - drums.bass.chords.6horns (nonet - 9)

Geoff Young 

Geoff Young is a Canadian guistarist, composer, arranger, and educator. Over a 30+ year career, Geoff has performed across three continents and with artists such as Marilyn Crispell, Kenny Wheeler, and Maryem Tollar. Geoff is currently a teacher of Applied Guitar and Small Jazz Ensemble at the U of T Faculty of Music,

Geoff has performed on several recordings that are available through the Music Library.

You can also listen to [in between], the debut album of the Geoff Young Trio. 

Gerald Clayton


Cover Art recording by the Next Collective (including Gerald Clayton, piano), available at the Music Library.

Gerald Clayton is a pianist and composer whose debut recording, "Two Shade," was nominated in 2010 for the "Best Improvise Jazz Solo" Grammy Award. Gerald explores mixed media performances, and also honors the legacy of his father, John Clayton.

You can listen to Gerald perform on the album Cover Art, by Next Collective, available at the Music Library.

Jackie McLean

Jackie McLean was an American jazz musician known for intense improvisation on alto saxophone. Overcoming drug addiction in his early career, McLean went on to become a drug counselor and music teacher, and founded the University of Hartford's department of African American music in 1980. In 2000 the department was renamed the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz.

You can learn more about McLean's album, 'Bout Soul album here. Leighton Harrell specifically recommends the first track, Soul.

Jacob Chung 

Jacob Chung is a Canadian saxophonist and composer, who is active in the Toronto jazz scene. He currently studies at the U of T Faculty of Music.

You can listen to Jacob perform through the Music Library Collection of Faculty Events.

Jazz and Justice by Gerald Horne


Jazz and Justice by Gerald Horne, available at the Music Library.

Jazz and Justice traces the history of "jazz" from the music of Africans freed from slavery in North America, through the "blues," Jim Crow, the Civil War, to the present. Horne focuses on the economic, soical, and political forces that shaped "jazz," and the ways that "jazz" has influenced arts and culture in the U.S.

Jazz and Justice by Gerald Horne is available at the Music Library.

Jimmy Blanton


Jimmy Blanton appears on this collection of Duke Ellington recordings (1936-1940), available at the Music Library.

Jimmy Blanton was an American jazz bassist who played in the Duke Ellington band for 2 years. He made over 130 recordings with Duke Ellington, but his career was cut short due to tuberculosis.

Blanton plays on several Duke Ellington recordings that are available through the Music Library.

Lee Morgan


Lee Morgan was an American jazz improviser and songwriter, lyric artist, and trumpet virtuoso. At 18, he was featured with the Dizzy Gillespie big band, but his career was cut short by his death at the age of 34. In his interview, Leighton Harrell mentions this quote from Lee Morgan: “they call it jazz, I like to call it Black classical music".

Several of Lee Morgan's recordings are available in the Music Library.

Max Roach


Max Roach recording, available at the Music Library.

Max Roach was an American jazz drummer and composer. Performing with artists such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Roach developed percussion techniques and rhythms which established percussion as a melodic improv instrument. Roach was also a political activist, which often influenced his compositions and performances.

Recordings of Max Roach are available through the Music Library.

Miles Davis


Miles Davis, Boplicity: Original Recordings 1949-1953, available through the library's subscription to Naxos Music Library Jazz.

Miles Davis was an American jazz trumpeter and bandleader. In his interview, Leighton specifically referenced an incident in which Davis was attacked by police, which occurred in 1959, just eight days after his release of Kind of Blue. The incident occurred in Midtown Manhattan, and Davis was then arrested for resisting arrest.

There are many items by or about Miles Davis in the Music Library, including books, scores, and CDs.

U of T community members can also watch "Miles Davis Quintet - Live at Newport Jazz Festival, Paris" on Qwest TV.

You can also listen to Miles Davis' Boplicity: Original Recordings 1949-1953, available through the library's subscription to Naxos Music Library Jazz.

Nicholas Payton


Nicholas Payton on his 1998 recording Payton's Place, available at the Music Library

Nicholas Payton is an American multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer, arranger, essayist, social activist, and Grammy Award winner. 

Leighton references a 2011 blog post which Nicholas Payton wrote called "On Why Jazz Isn't Cool Anymore."

Several of Payton's recordings are available in the Music Library.

Poetry Jazz Café 

Established in 2010, Poetry Jazz Café is a venue for live music and poetry, fostering jazz, blues, soul, rock, comedy, and poetry. It is a popular destination in Kensington Market, Toronto.

Ray Charles


Ray Charles Anthology, available at the Music Library.

Ray Charles was an American pianist, singer, composer, and bandleader. He is often credited with the early development of soul music.

In 1960, Charles released a vinyl titled Ray Charles Presents David Newman* - Fathead. David "Fathead" Newman was an American musicians who specialized in flute and alto and baritone saxophone. He worked with Charles from 1954 to 1964, and frequently collaborated with him in later years. 

Ray Charles Presents David Newman* - Fathead is available at the Toronto Public Library.

U of T community members can also learn more about Ray Charles and David "Fathead" Newman in Ray Charles and the Raelettes - Live at Antibes Jazz Festival on Qwest TV.

Travis Knights 

Travis Knights is a tap dancer, performer, and choreographer who has tapped for a video game by Warner Brothers, consulted for Cirque de Soleil, and been featured in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremonies. 

Wynton Marsalis


Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life by Wynton Marsalis and Carl A. Vigeland, available at the Music Library.

Wynton Marsalis is an American musician, composer, bandleader, and educator. He has composed for quartets, chamber music ensembles, symphony orchestras, and big bands.

Several of the U of T Libraries have scores and recordings by Marsalis, and they also offer access to several films and documentaries about him through Medici TV.

Leighton Harrell
Leighton's Recommendations