By Gary Fukushima | Published May 2022
Dog owners can attest to the profound meaning these animals bring to their masters, and their departures are just as (and in some cases, more) grievous as the passing of family and friends. Leonhart has eulogized his pet, Normyn, with not one, but two suites that run the gamut of emotional affect and musical variety, from Steely Dan-ish funk-jazz to both European and gospel church requiem. The presentation of this music amounts to a memorial service befitting one given top-dog status, for Leonhart has assembled, in addition to his orchestra of A-list New York musicians, a cadre of featured celebrity soloists: Elvis Costello, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Larry Goldings, Donny McCaslin, Nels Cline and Bill Frisell all take all-star turns at the front lectern.
The first suite, “Soundtrack To The Five Stages Of Grieving,” accurately depicts that emotive journey (if only “Denial” and “Anger” felt as groovy as they are presented here). The music turns spaciously poignant through “Catharsis” and “Nostalgia.”
The reverie continues through the second suite, “Love & Loss,” leading off with a restless organ feature by Goldings, moving into some beautiful textural passages for flute, organ, strings, guitar (courtesy of Frisell) and voices, sung gorgeously by friends and family members of the famous Leonhart clan. The composer performs on solo piano “La Preghiera,” maybe the purest elegy for his beloved Normyn, and continues his mourning on trumpet on “The Dunes Of Cahoon Hollow.”
The Normyn Suites: Shut Him Down; Denial; Anger; Catharsis; Nostalgia; Acceptance; Radio Is Everything; May The Young Grow Old; Waking From Sedation; Freedom From The Pain; Unconditional Love; La Pregheria; The Dunes Of Cahoon Hollow; Shut Him Down (Video Edit); Newspaper Pane; Kenny Dorham; Wayne Shorter. (1:08:09)
Personnel: Michael Leonhart and many more.
Ordering Info: sunnysiderecords.com