picture of Leon Spencer
Leon Spencer
Leon Spencer was born in Houston, TX, in 1945, and started piano lessons early, studying the instrument for more than ten years. He gigged around Texas with David Newman then attended Texas Southern University to study engineering. He later attended the University of Houston. After getting out of the army, Leon heard Jimmy Smith in person and decided to take up the organ and backed Houston visitors like Peggy Lee and Lou Rawls when they came through town.
 
He also gigged around Texas with fellow Houston native, guitarist Melvin Sparks, whom he first met while the two were in school together. In 1969, Spencer spent three months in Los Angeles, where he made his recording debut with guitarist Wilbert Longmire, who he'd work with again over the years. He came to New York in 1970 and immediately found opportunities working with his friend, Melvin Sparks. Important was also his cooperation with Lou Donaldson; they recorded various albums together.
 
His recording career concentrated in the early 1970's, when albums such as Sneak Preview, Louisiana Slim, Bad Walking Woman, and Where I'm Coming From were released on the Prestige label. Some of his music was reissued in 1997 as Roots of Acid Jazz. Bob Porter wrote in his liner notes: "As a player Spencer was all Jimmy Smith on top, but his use of organ bass was most unusual. He would use the lower manual much more than most players and develop bass lines that had considerably more than average range. It is fortunate that master engineer Rudy Van Gelder was aboard for these dates because he brings out the very best in Spencer's organ sound."
 
Leon died in 2012.
 
partially from Doug Payne (his blog Sound Insight)
contact:
homepage:

 

Discography
Revolution
Pacific 20161
recorded 1969 in Hollywood, CA/USA
Wilbert Longmire, guitar
Cal Green, guitar
Anthony Ortega, tenor sax
Wilton Felder, tenor sax
George Bohanon, trombone
Gary Barone, trumpet
Gray Rains, trumpet
Leon Spencer, organ, piano
Larry Gales, bass
Ron Johnson, bass
Paul Humphrey, drums
Pretty Things
Blue Note 89794
recorded January and June 1970 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Leon Spencer, organ
Lonnie Smith, organ
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Lou Donaldson, tenor sax
Blue Mitchell, trumpet
Jimmy Lewis, bass
Idris Muhammad, drums
Sparks!
Prestige 10001
recorded September 1970 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Virgil Jones, trumpet
John Manning, tenor sax
Houston Person, tenor sax
Leon Spencer, organ
Idris Muhammad, drums
The Scorpion
Blue Note 31876
recorded November 1970 live at the Cadillac Club, Newark, NJ/USA
Lou Donaldson, alto sax
Fred Ballard, trumpet
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Leon Spencer, organ
Idris Muhammad, drums
Sneak Preview
Prestige 10011
recorded December 1970 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Leon Spencer, organ
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Grover Washington, tenor sax
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Buddy Waldwell, conga
Turn It On!
Prestige 10012
recorded January 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Sonny Stitt, tenor sax
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Leon Spencer, organ
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Fire Eater
Prestige 10014
recorded February 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Rusty Bryant, tenor sax
Bill Mason, organ
Leon Spencer, organ
Wilbert Longmire, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Spark Plug
Prestige 10016
recorded March 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Grover Washington, tenor sax
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Leon Spencer, organ
Reggie Roberts, organ
Idris Muhammad, drums
You Talk That Talk!
Prestige 10019
recorded February 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Gene Ammons, tenor sax
Sonny Stitt, tenor sax
Leon Spencer, organ
George Freeman, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Black Vibrations
Prestige 10032
recorded July 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Sonny Stitt, tenor sax, alto sax
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Leon Spencer, organ
Don Patterson, organ
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Louisiana Slim
Prestige 10033
recorded July 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Leon Spencer, organ
Grover Washington, tenor sax, flute
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Buddy Caldwell, conga
Akilah!
Prestige 10039
recorded February 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Leon Spencer, organ, piano
Dave Hubbard, flute, tenor sax
Hubert Laws, flute
George Coleman, alto sax
Sonny Fortune, alto sax
Frank Wess, tenor sax
Ernie Royal, trumpet
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Drums - Idris Muhammad
Buddy Caldwell, percussion
Cosmos
Blue Note 84370
recorded July 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Lou Donaldson, alto sax
Ed Williams, trumpet
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Leon Spencer, organ
Jerry Jemmott, bass
Idris Muhammad, drums
Ray Armando, congas
Bad Walking Woman
Prestige 10042
recorded February 1972 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Leon Spencer, organ
Sonny Fortune, alto sax
Dave Hubbard, tenor sax
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Hubert Laws, flute
Buzz Brauer, flute, English horn, oboe
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Joe Beck, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Buddy Caldwell, conga
Where I'm Coming From
Prestige 10063
recorded February 1972 and January 1973 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Leon Spencer, organ
Sonny Fortune, alto sax
Dave Hubbard, tenor sax
Seldon Powell, tenor sax, flute
Frank Wes, flute, baritone sax
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Jon Faddis, trumpet
Victor Paz, trumpet
Hubert Laws, flute
Buzz Brauer, flute, English horn, oboe
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Joe Beck, guitar
Ernie Hayes, piano
George Duvivier, bass
Idris Muhammad, drums
Grady Tate, drums
Buddy Caldwell, conga
This Side Of Heaven
J&M Records – JRC 605
recorded 1976 (?) in USA
Wilbert Longmire, guitar
Wilton Felder, tenor sax
Leon Spencer, organ
orchestra c/by Joe Sample
Legends Of Acid Jazz
Prestige PRCD-24169
compilation, recorded 1971
Sonny Stitt, alto sax, tenor sax
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Don Patterson, organ
Leon Spencer, organ
Idris Muhammad, drums
Legends Of Acid Jazz - Leon Spencer
Prestige PRCD 24185-2
recorded December 1970 and July 1971 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
reissue of "Sneak Preview" and "Louisiana Slim"
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Grover Washington, tenor sax, flute
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Leon Spencer, organ
Idris Muhammad, drums
Buddy Caldwell, conga
Dance Lesson #2
Blue Note 7243 5 31586 2 0
recorded January - February 2000 in USA
Leon Spencer, organ
Grover Washington, tenor sax, flute
Virgil Jones, trumpet
Melvin Sparks, guitar
Idris Muhammad, drums
Buddy Caldwell, conga

 
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