On Record – Leland Whitty: Anyhow (Innovative Leisure)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Leland Whitty is a multi-instrumentalist, a member of the BADBADNOTGOOD group from Toronto – in which he normally plays saxophone and guitar. In true jazz fashion, however, his talents appear to be completely unrestricted, for on this record alone he provides composition, production and contributions on guitar, keyboards, various woodwind, percussion and strings.

Work on Anyhow began in 2020, with Whitty following a course influenced by cinema and photography. Two of his bandmates, Alexander Sowinski (drums) and Chester Hansen (bass) are guests on the album.

What’s the music like?

Anyhow has been out for a while, since December 2022 to be exact – but it has cropped up in Arcana’s listening patterns for the last few weeks and definitely deserves a review of its own!

It is a highly attractive and pictorial album, from the dappled textures and languid loops that dress Svalbard to the saxophone climbing towards the higher reaches towards the end of the title track.

In between there is much to enjoy. The expansive Glass Moon has a descriptive saxophone commentary, while Awake is actually pretty hazy, with sighing strings and a nicely jumbled keyboard solo. Windows takes time out for reflection (pun intended!), basking in some attractive textures, before the saxophone takes an assertive lead. Meanwhile Silver Rain has strong hints of Debussy in its melody.

Does it all work?

Yes. Whitty has a keen ear for orchestration, and allows free improvisation without ever tipping over into indulgence.

Is it recommended?

It is, heartily. Leland Whitty’s work marks him out as a descriptive and emotive composer, who says a great deal in shorter musical sentences. Attractively clothed, this is an album to savour.