Originally released in 2000. these are the liner notes-
This CD introduces a remarkable young jazz violinist. Nathan Robert Leath was born in Hickory, North Carolina just 15 years ago. His tasteful approach to the genre would suggest a musician at least twice that age: grownups who hear him play begin to speculate about reincarnation as the most probable explanation for this young man's accomplishments.
From a very early age, Nate was fascinated with the painting of a violin which hung in his grandmother's house. At age 8, he pointed to the painting and said, "Grandma, if you get me one of those, I can play it." Nate's grandmother fulfilled the youngster's request, not knowing how prophetic that bold statement really was. "When I gave Nate that fiddle," his grandmother, Sandy Austin recalls, "he bowed down across it just as pretty as anything - no squeaks or squawks at all." After six weeks of lessons, Nate was making guest appearances with his fiddle teacher's bluegrass band; before long he was winning local fiddle contests. Shortly after turning eleven, Nate won first place at the renowned Galax (Virginia) Fiddler's Convention, in both fiddle and "best all-around performer" categories.
Playing with veteran North Carolina bluegrass musicians afforded the young fiddler a wealth of encouragement, performing opportunities, and exposure to recordings. Nate was listening to a wide variety of musical styles, from bluegrass to heavy-metal rock, and was developing his skills not only on the violin but on guitar, mandolin, bass, and percussion as well. Then, according to Nate, a recording of mandolinist David Grisman with legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grapelli "got me into a whole different world."
Immersing himself in swing and jazz, Nate was transferred by such violin greats as Stuff Smith, whose influence is noticeable in Nate's tone and phrasing, Joe Venuti, and Stephane Grapelli. Jazz legends Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dave Brubeck also captured Nate's attention. Nate claims that studying the music of these players taught him "it's not what you play but what you don't play that counts." It usually takes many years for a young hot musician to learn that crucial lesson, but then Nate's musical sense has matured extraordinarily quickly.
Perhaps the pace of his musical development can be explained by the fact that, as Nate puts it, "music is pretty much my life." His grandmother, when asked by onlookers, "do you have to make him practice?" says, "No, I have to make him stop." Practice alone, however, cannot account for the apparent ease with which Nate has absorbed the jazz idiom; that takes raw talent.
- Jack Leiderman