From the liner notes:
Our first CD, A Simpler Time, was created to express the simple feel and flow of jazz music. A Simpler Place maintains that same character, but with a notable difference – the addition of 18 strings and 4 French horns. Walter Bryant’s arrangements for these parts are powerful yet understated, complementing the melody without compromising the simplicity. Two tenor saxophonists with two very different styles are also featured – Mike White and Hal Melia. The original quartet remains intact, with Danny Embrey on guitar, Paul Smith on piano, and Garry and Gerry Leonard on drums and bass. We welcome you to share in the classic beauty of A Simpler Place.
- The Leonard Brothers
Garry Leonard – Drums
After graduating from Eastern Michigan University on a full music scholarship, Garry toured the U.S. with brother Gerry, singer Leslie Kendall, and pianists Alan Broadbent, John Serry and Gus Sims. He settled in Kansas City and began a career in music education with the North Kansas City School District. He’s played with various groups in KC as well as the Starlight Theater, KC Chiefs Band and the Kansas City Symphony.
Gerry Leonard – Bass
Gerry played trumpet through college and following graduation, toured the U.S. playing bass with brother Garry for several years. He’s played with many local Kansas City musicians including long stints with such notables as Frank Smith, Richard Ross and Joe Cartwright.
Danny Embrey – Guitar
Danny is a local musician, guitar instructor and recording artist with an international reputation. He toured for many years with Sergio Mendez, was a member of Clare Fisher’s Latin Band and most recently has been touring with Concord recording artist, Karrin Allyson.
Paul Smith – Piano/Synthesizer
For over 30 years, Paul has maintained the perfect dual career – a music teacher by day and a jazz musician by night. Paul has worked with a plethora of locally and nationally known jazz artists and has appeared at jazz festivals in Berlin and Montreaux.
Gary Helm – Latin Percussion
Gary has been performing in the Kansas City area for the past 25 years, specializing in percussion and electric bass. He has toured the U.S. extensively with such well-known artists as Chaka Khan, the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Hal Melia – Tenor Saxophone
Hal has been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at UMKC since 1998. He has spent time in L.A., recording and arranging with top jazz and R&B groups, and appearing in several major motion pictures. He earned his Master’s degree in music from the University of Cincinnati.
Mike White – Tenor Saxophone
Mike White is a lawyer and former county executive whose first love has always been jazz. He has worked with Cab Calloway, Jay McShann and many other Kansas City jazz musicians. Mike has spent a great deal of time in the 18th and Vine area, sitting in with such jazz notables as Charles Kynard and Wes Montgomery.