Determined to perfect this highly technical genre, he has been writing and jamming with artists such as David Lyttle, Neil Crowley and John Leighton to name a few.
Joseph first came to our attention as lead guitarist of The Kashmir Krows who in the beginning were a straight up rock band but he quickly fell in love with Jazz having met David Lyttle and John Leighton at Bennigans Jazz Club and hasn’t look back since.
We caught up with one of the city’s brightest talents to find out what attracted him to this genre and what his hopes for the future are.
Growing up, what would have your musical influences?
I started off listening to mainly Rock and Blues. People like Eric Clapton, Metallica, Led Zeppelin... all that stuff, but then I started to get into Jazz Fusion, a Jazz Rock mix. It was the music of Guthrie Govan that really got me into it and I actually meet him when he held a masterclass at the Nerve Centre. Then I naturally just progressed into Jazz.
Previously you were guitarist for the Kashmir Krows, did you see a progression in the music of the band?
The Kashmir Krows were a three piece Jazz Rock trio but we started out as a straight up rock band. We didn’t actually have a singer but as we started to look for someone to join the band, Marty McGill at the Nerve Centre (Music Programmer Manager and Balkan Alien Sound band member) said ‘you don’t need a singer’ and let me listen to some music from the Neil Cowley Trio who are a jazz rock but with rock attitude.
So we decided to go down that route with the Kashmir Krows.
So when did you realise that you wanted to focus on jazz?
Just over a year ago we played at the jazz night at Bennigans Bar, which we were probably a bit too loud for in all honesty, but that’s where I met John Leighton and David Lyttle. Since then I’ve got into jazz more and more. Over the course of the year they have brought me up at every Sunday night Jazz session to play with them and other fantastic musicians like Meilana Gillard. I learned a lot from all of them. Even at the start when I didn’t know much jazz, they would still be inviting me up.
Luckily David became musician in residence at the Nerve Centre this year and we’ve spent a lot of time together and he’s been providing mentoring support to me which has been great. I’ve learnt a lot.
Over the year we’ve been playing and writing together and at his final year showcase at the Nerve Centre this month we’ll be playing some of our collaborations.
Last month I had my first jazz leader gig with my trio consisting of John and David. We’ll also be performing at Bennigans again this month on Sunday 13th.
We’ll be playing a mixture of stuff as well as some jazz Christmas songs thrown in too.
Emerald X20 Nylon - Joseph Leighton My Romance
Have you been writing any of your own material yet?
Yes, with the help of David I’ve been writing a lot. But at the moment I’ve been even more focussed on practising and learning the craft.
What sort of tips has the Nerve Centre Musician in Residence David Lyttle been giving you?
Mainly it has been working on Jazz performance. Playing Jazz music right so I am not clogging up too much, and not getting in way of other musicians. Also on how to improvise too. Everything really, he’s been great.
I have kept in contact with Neil Cowley who was previously a Musician in Residence at the Nerve Centre too, so they are great people to have and learn from.
So what does the future hold for Joseph Leighton?
I hope to keep the Trio going with myself, John on Hammond organ and David on Drums and maybe write as a collective too. I’m also hoping to go on next year and study Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
You can next catch Joseph Leighton perform a solo gig at the Legenderry Warehouse on Sunday 20th December from 12 - 2pm. He also takes to the stage at Bennigans Bar Jazz Club with his Trio consisting of John Leighton on Hammond organ and David Lyttle on drums on Sunday 13th December. Picture of Joseph playing an Emerald Guitar taken by Alistair Hay.