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There's not a guitarist worth their salt today that hasn't been touched in some way by Leo Kottke. Even if not directly influenced by his dazzling approach and command of acoustic guitar, his work has seeped into the infrastructure of all guitar playing since his landmark debut 6- and 12String Guitar arrived in 1969. Watch him and the strength in his hands and fevered focus in his eyes make the experience of a dude sitting in a chair picking really bloody riveting, not to mention one's natural disbelief that one guy is making all that sound by himself with a single instrument. Kottke is also an expert showman and his often bizarre between song rambles and highly unique vocal selections add further layers of cool curiosity to this pro's pro. Leo Kottke turns 65 today and we hope he gets extra icing on his cake. (Dennis Cook)
This quicksilver pairing seems as fine a place to jump off as one might find.
One of Kottke's best vocal albums is 1990's My Father's Face, which contains this stony lil' morning jewel full of odd wisdom and dream fragments.
Ancient and modern streams converge in Kottke's compositions. To wit, this mingling of Renaissance and Nashville vibes in this clip from the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1977.
The fluidity and bounce to his 12-string playing is captured nicely in this 1973 BBC clip.
Another sprightly fave from his vocal arsenal.
It's easy to understand how Kottke and Phish's Mike Gordon became pals and collaborators after one watches curious experiments like this one. And yes, we tried to find high quality video of Mike & Leo together but it's all pretty sub-par. Sorry, kids.
Breathtaking kinda covers it with this selection.
Kottke's storytelling and easy laughter are essential ingredients to his enduring live success. This tale has been part of his repertoire for ages and it never gets old.
We end with Leo in Germany in the late 70s performing Up Tempo," Hear The Wind Howl" and Busted Bicycle."
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.