Harry Leahey: World Class Guitarist Stayed Close To Home

Harry Leahey Nuages 

By Flip Peters:

If you took guitar lessons between the late 60s and 1990, the chances are very high that you studied with Harry of one of his students. 

There are very few videos of Harry playing. This is one from the mid 1980s in Rochester, NY. Harry performs with his regular trio, with Roy Cumming, bass and Glenn Davis, drums. Thanks to Walt Bibinger, one of Harry's former students and himself a great guitarist, for this video.

This is from the Abstract of my Masters Thesis which was a bio and an in depth look at Harry's approach to the guitar. Harry Leahey was a guitarist and guitar teacher who lived, taught and performed primarily in New Jersey.

His career began in the early 1960s and continued until his death in 1990. He studied guitar with Lou Melia, a local guitar teacher, Al Volpe, the renowned studio guitarist and teacher of such players as Joe Pass and Sal Salvatore, leading jazz and studio guitarist Johnny Smith and Dennis Sandole, teacher of such students as Pat Martino and John Coltrane.

He studied theory and composition at Manhattan School of Music. Although he never achieved a high degree of fame he played and recorded with Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan, Al Cohn, Jack Six, Warren Vaché and numerous other well known jazz artists, all of whom held him in the highest esteem.

He performed with local artists, both jazz and commercial. From 1978 to 1990 he performed with his own trio and in duo settings with various bass players. He recorded one album with his trio, one duo album with Steve Gilmore and one solo album. A dedicated and practical family man, he chose to devote himself to teaching the guitar.

He taught privately at his home in Plainfield, New Jersey and from 1974 to 1988 at William Paterson University (then William Paterson College). He died in 1990 at the age of 54.