Leif Totusek is a guitarist, band leader, and composer. The three albums of Totusek's offered here shine a light on three very different and complimentary sides to his artistry, the common denominator throughout being his masterful guitar playing.
Beginning with his early 90's group and accompanying self-titled album Freestyle Candela, Totusek and his co-collaborators paved a glorious musical path with their take on the vibrant and exciting Soukous of Central Africa fused with Cuban Rumba. In the Pacific Northwest, Freestyle Candela was on the vanguard of American musicians' exploration of global sounds, as evidenced by the inaugural WOMAD USA music festival having been kicked off in Seattle a couple of years after they released their album.
Totusek would go on to form his jazz combo with bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Larry Jones and release 1-2-3... Go, a collection of mostly original be-bopish compositions that seemlessly fuse Totusek's pan-African (Congo, Haiti, Cuba, Mali, New Orleans) guitar stylings with a traditional jazz trio format. The results are deeply satisfing for anyone who loves jazz as much as this writer does. In recent years Totusek has joined singer and mbira player Lora Chiorah-dye, a Zimbabwe who teaches Shona music and dance in Seattle, the result being the beautiful, intimate, and captivating sounds to be found on their recording Mbira & Guitar.
Leif Totusek has accomplished a sort of alchemical transformation that is achieved with years of honing one's musical chops to the point of transcending the craft, creating musical art that is not only damn good and danceable, but emotionally honest and transcendent. Embark on the journey, explore Totusek's music and you will be rewarded.