November 12th, 2022 9pm Stage 2
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter/producer Michael Leonhart and highly touted emcee JSWISS culminate two years of working remotely throughout a pandemic with the release of their debut duo album, Bona Fide, on Bandcamp. The two were brought together in the summer of 2019 when Leonhart was looking for a rapper to make a guest appearance during a performance with his orchestra at the popular New York City club Jazz Standard, which led to several more shows together over the next 6 months. The album peaked at #11 on Bandcamp’s best-selling hip-hop/rap albums worldwide and was highlighted as a New & Notable album by the platform.
The pair began working on original music in early 2020 in between shows, and when the coronavirus pandemic caused a months-long shut down, the two didn’t lose a step, writing and recording song after song separately in their respective home studios. Leonhart and JSWISS provided a glimpse into their progress with The Alchemy EP, released in January 2021, before finishing up their first full length project.
On the dynamic 10-song Bona Fide album, Leonhart handles all production duties and plays multiple instruments, while also calling on contributions from Grammy-winning trumpeter Keyon Harrold, drummers Nick Movshon and Homer Steinweiss (Amy Winehouse, El Michels Affair, The Dap Kings), woodwind player Chris Bullock (Snarky Puppy) and guitarist Bill Frisell. The only samples on the record actually come from the yet-to-be-released album by Leonhart’s own Michael Leonhart Orchestra, “The Normyn Suites.”
JSWISS handles all lyrical duties, covering a variety of topics including love, Black excellence, and the dogged pursuit of one’s dreams regardless of obstacles.
The album begins with infectious beats and a barrage of wordplay on the Pete Rock-approved “The Chase”, “Golden” and the title track “Bona Fide” before arriving at “Last Day”, which kicks off a four-song collection of songs directly inspired by themes from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s book Manuscript Found In Accra.
The full Bona Fide album is now available exclusively on Bandcamp, and will be available on all other major platforms later in the spring 2022.