Carl Sunny Leyland

Carl Sonny Leyland is an Anglo-American boogie woogie, blues and jazz pianist. 


Background information From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Leyland was born in 1965 near Southampton, England, but as a child was drawn to American music. At age 15, he discovered boogie woogie, and was inspired to make the piano his career. He came to New Orleans in 1988, and built a reputation in the clubs there for the next nine years. In 1997, he relocated to California, where he joined Big Sandy & His Flyrite Boys, a rockabilly and western swing group, touring with them for three years.


Since then his repertoire has included ragtime and early jazz. He formed the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio in 2003 with Hal Smith on drums (later replaced by Jeff Hamilton) and Marty Eggers on bass.

The trio plays primarily boogie woogie and traditional jazz. It has recorded seven CDs and performs regularly in festivals.


Leyland is regarded highly by critics and considered to be one of the top attractions at jazz festivals (“We cannot heap enough praise on Carl Sonny Leyland. Not only is he a great solo pianist, he is an asset to any band and amazes other musicians…”)


Background information From

Carl Sonny Leyland was born & raised on the South Coast of England, growing up close to the city of Southampton. As a child he was drawn to the American music which he heard on LP records his father would play. It was here that he developed an appreciation for Dixieland jazz, the rock & roll of the 1950s & the country music of Jimmie Rodgers & Hank Williams.

At age 15 Leyland discovered boogie woogie when he heard a school friend working through a written arrangement of a tune called JD's Boogie Woogie (Marvin Wright). Captivated by the sound of the repeating 8 to the bar left hand pattern, Leyland was inspired to go to the piano & begin on a path that would become his life's purpose. Within 3 months he would be performing in public & shortly after would become a member of a respected local group "The Bob Pearce Blues Band."

Initially influenced by boogie woogie greats Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson & Meade 'Lux' Lewis, Leyland went on to fully explore the piano blues genre, becoming an authority on early & obscure styles such as those played by Cow Cow Davenport, Little Brother Montgomery, Montana Taylor & Speckled Red to name a few.

In 1988 Leyland had the opportunity to come to the USA. This initial visit to New Orleans inspired him to relocate to that city where he would spend the next nine years. During that time he was active on the club scene, quickly gaining a reputation for his authentic blues & early rock & roll stylings. Also, he toured with the Dallas based band Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets whose line up included blues great Sam Myers.


In 1997, feeling the need for a change, Leyland relocated to Southern California. He joined Big Sandy & His Flyrite Boys, the well known rockabilly & western swing group & toured with them for over three years.

By this time his repertoire had expanded to include ragtime & early jazz styles which enabled him to become part of the traditional jazz scene around Los Angeles & San Diego. In June of 2003 the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio was formed with drummer Hal Smith & bassist Marty Eggers. There was such a natural synergy between the three musicians that a recording of their first performance was good enough to issue on a cd (Broadway Boogie - now out of print). 

Their versatile combination has proven successful over the years. They have recorded seven cds to date (including a collaboration with Nathan James & Ben Hernandez) & continue to work steadily on the festival scene. (The current lineup includes Jeff Hamilton on drums).


Still active in the blues world, Carl Sonny Leyland appears on occasion with such notables as James Harman, Kim Wilson & Rod Piazza. This year he is a featured artist on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.


Leyland has also continued his involvement with the rockabilly scene & plays each year in the backing band at Viva Las Vegas & more recently at the Summer Jamboree in Senegalia, Italy. In this capacity he has worked with such notables as Janis Martin, Ruth Brown, Billy Lee Riley & Carl Mann.



Whether playing solo or with his trio, Leyland's playing displays an infectious spontaneity, providing plenty of surprises for the listener.

While he possesses the necessary vocabulary to pay tribute to the greats of old, he refuses to be limit himself to this & prefers to let each performance be an opportunity to say something new.

His repertoire spans the Ragtime era to the 1950s & includes a number of self written material.


Videos, Downloads

*Immanuel Kant


Created: 20220210

Updated: 20220215

Wikipedia: This page was last edited on 12 August 2021, at 21:39 (UTC).

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