Leslie Drayton has been an advisor to Live Music Movement Foundation (LMMF) since inception of the organization in July 2011. He has helped to set policy and provide direction. He and his former band ‘Fun’ performed at the first LMMF musical event, A Sunday Jazz Party, on December 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. This collaboration and performance allowed LMMF to gain immediate audience acceptance and financial support because of Leslie Drayton’s musical renown in the Los Angeles area and beyond.
In November 2016, Live Music Movement Foundation’s inaugural musical event marked both LMMF and Leslie Drayton and ‘Few Regrets’ presence in Houston. Hosted at ALJ Jazz Bar and Lounge in Downtown Houston, the event was said by one patron to be, “refreshing…organic and very well…orchestrated.” And it’s no wonder with Kathy Drayton founder and chairperson at the helm of the organization and Leslie Drayton on the advisory committee.
The event was another step forward in LMMF’s mission to present music in environments where dancing and socializing is encouraged to generate continuing interest. Advisor Drayton again provided invaluable direction and support to LMMF with this musical event.
Since the inaugural Houston musical event, the advisor and chairperson have been searching the city for venues to perform and identify musicians with a similar passion to move the music forward. It has been quite an endeavor but they believe they are on the right track promote original, entertaining live music in the city of Houston.
Catching up with Advisor Leslie Drayton
Prior to ‘Leslie Drayton and Few Regrets’, the former band was ‘Leslie Drayton and Fun.’ Explain the new name and its significance to Leslie Drayton’s presence in Houston?
LD: A few years ago, a band named ‘Fun’, won awards at the GRAMMYs. I’d used the name ‘Leslie Drayton and Fun’ since the mid-1980’s but didn’t have any protection on the name. So, for the last few years in LA, I dropped ‘Fun’ from the band name.
Fast forward to Houston several months ago. One morning while working out in the gym I was thinking about how good it felt having relocated to the Houston area and having time to explore some things that I had put on the backburner during my years as a college professor. While reflecting that morning, the thought crossed my mind that I had few regrets for decisions I had made in life thus far. This is not saying that all has been a smooth ride, but I had no regrets for the path I had chosen and the lessons learned along the way. At that moment, a new band name popped into my head. I shared the name with my wife as soon as I returned from the gym and she agreed that it was a nice new name to have for the band as well. Thus the name was born.
Milestones, such as moving from one city to another are often a time of reflection, has the move from Los Angeles elicited any nostalgia?
LD: Moving to Houston has not really elicited any nostalgia for me. Each time I have relocated in my life, I think of the new place as home. It’s a new adventure everyday. Texas is a beautiful place-housing is affordable, people are very friendly, gasoline is a dollar cheaper per gallon, there’s great tax advantages here, lots of extended family, and lots of time to explore my creative endeavors at a relaxed pace.
How has your music evolved since you first began your career in 1967?
LD: Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to experiment with different approaches on how to express myself musically. As a younger person, one tends to mimic others as a way to learn the language and life. Many of my mentors observed that process, but also reminded me to develop and trust my own musical voice and ideas. Once I could analyze and reflect on those things that were my personal expression, I began to explore and trust my own voice. So, almost 50 years later, I spend time refining and editing those things that are uniquely mine.
New city, new band. Is there a new image Leslie Drayton wants to promote, or do you continue to build on the image established over years for old and new fans alike?
LD: Much of what I do is based on impressions of those things around me. New music will emerge and I will revisit many of the older creations as well. New musicians bring a different perspective to older things and also bring their personalities and cultural differences to the music. As things evolve, there will be give and take from all involved while molding a newer sound and concept.
You have released 12 albums during your career. Is there a new album in the works?
LD: There’s always new music that needs to be documented. Time will dictate when it is time to record again.
As a child, you’ve studied the piano, clarinet, bongo drums, and of course you’ve played the trumpet professionally. Is there any other instrument you desired to study besides the aforementioned?
LD: All instruments and colors of sound are fascinating. Learning to play the trumpet well is a lifelong journey and requires daily interaction. I have purchased a grand piano since relocating to Houston and the sound intrigues me. After all, I began my musical journey on the piano as a toddler and I have sort of returned to my roots. My piano is a rebuilt Baldwin, model L, from 1917 or so. It’s beautiful and I’m very blessed to own it.
You’ve worked with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Melba Liston and Nancy Wilson among others. Is there any desire to collaborate with any other artists?
LD: No particular person is currently on the wish list.
Leslie Drayton and Few Regrets are a relatively new formation. What can fans expect from the band in the future?
LD: As I continue to get involved with the music scene here, I sincerely hope that fans will continue to enjoy our original sounds and be introduced to a select group of highly talented musicians presented in the most professional context as possible.
What inspires your music? What experiences, if any, have influenced your work the most?
If becoming a musician had not been an option, what career would be most appealing to you?
LD: Believe it or not, had I not become a professional musician I would have pursued architecture as a career. However, that all changed when I was 15 years old and was invited to join a youth band that rehearsed on Saturdays at a local music store. After that Saturday rehearsal, it was very clear to me that my path would be music and I haven’t looked back. And with that, I have few regrets. 🙂
Leslie Drayton can be contacted at www.draytonmusic.com.