Playing piano for vocalese giant Jon Hendricks and handling the keyboard chores for David "Fathead" Newman are no little accomplishments. Neither are writing arrangements for the Benny Carter Orchestra or for Art Blakey's Big Band.
Pianist David Leonhardt accomplished these things in seven years. Yet the 37-year-old native of Louisville had an artistic yearning for something more. It explains why he departed from the comfortable role of sideman and accompanist to the sometimes lonely and often perilous world of the solo artist.
That yearning is amply illustrated on Leonhardt's first solo CD, "Departure" (Big Band) and in his live shows, which audiences can catch on Thursdays during September at the Raritan River Club in New Brunswick.
"After four years with Jon and three more with 'Fathead,' you realize it is good experience, but you want to do something more," said Leonhardt.