Leighton Harrell is a bassist and composer from Raleigh, N.C. He found his passion for music at the age of 16, and a year later was selected to be a member of the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble, with which he attended the 2017 Essentially Ellington competition in New York. Upon graduating from high school in 2017, Leighton received a scholarship to attend the University of Toronto’s jazz performance program, where he is currently an undergraduate student. Since moving to Toronto, Leighton has balanced a busy schedule of gigs around the city with his studies, and beginning in 2019 has held a biweekly residency at Poetry Jazz Café with his quartet. Other venues include The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar, the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, the 120 Diner, the Emmet Ray, the Drake Underground, Toronto Meridian Centre for the Arts and the Old Mill, among others.
In addition to freelance work on the Toronto jazz scene, Leighton has worked with Toronto hip-hop artist Ice Tha One and R&B artists LOONY and Avery Raquel. As a composer and artist, Leighton draws inspiration from hymns and spirituals, folk music, and various traditions of Black American Music, in which jazz has its roots. In addition to performance and composition, Leighton teaches a number of private students on both the electric and acoustic bass. Leighton is currently a student of Andrew Downing, and has studied with Dave Young, Geoff Young, Rodney Whitaker and Ben Wolfe, among others.