Leif Totusek

Leif Totusek

Composer ● Musician ● Band Leader



Leif Totusek, Freestyle Candela

Leif Totusek 1-2-3, Go

Lora Chiorah & Leif Totusek, Mbira & Guitar

The Totusek, Butkovic, Iochev Trio, The Laundry Room Session

The Jamisons, Banshee

Love Gangsters, Never Say Goodbye

Leif Totusek (born 11 May 1964) is an American guitarist, band leader, and composer. He has played, collaborated and been special guest with African Artist Mose Fan Fan, Ali Birra, Geoffrey Oryema, Diblo Dibala, Orchestra Virunga, Tabu Ley Rocherea among others. He is also well versed in the be-bop idiom, and many other musical styles and cultural music.

Early life

Raised in a musical family on Capitol Hill in Seattle,WA, Totusek began performing at age 15 with Seattle's F.A.M.E and St. Teresa Gospel choirs and numerous musical groups, including: "Lora and Sukutai"(Zimbabwe), "Paisley Sin"(Seattle-grunge), with "M.T.Q." [aka Martin Totusek Quintet] (jazz and blues originals, standards, and the music of Thelonious Monk) at the 1987 Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival, and others. At age 17, he traveled to London and immersed himself in the London ethnic jazz scene. He toured with Soukous veteran Mose se 'Fan Fan', (former member of the late Franco Luambo Makiadi and TPOK Jazz) and his group "Somo Somo" - members included: Roy Dodds, John Glyn, Huw Warren, Doreen Webster , T. Daniel Howard. He also performed with Nigerian jazz artist Gasper Lawal "The African Oro Band" - Salah Dawson Miller's World fusion band "Orquesta Chakckouka" - Eddie Edem "Hi-life" and with many other world and jazz musicians. In 1982, Leif first created his jazz influenced band "Freestyle Candela" adding Arne Livingston on bass and percussionist Mamadi Kamara on percussion in 1984. It was called "Seattle Jazz" then "Freestyle" before settling on "Freestyle Candela".

At age 26, Totusek moved to Boston, hiring local musicians Joshua Redman, Mark Turner, Scott Gilman, Jessica Lurie and others. Blending Soukous, blues, and jazz in his compositions, he helped popularize Zairian(Congolese) soukous guitar in the Boston music scene. He also performed and recorded with Senegalese band "Ibrahima Camara Safal", as well as Haitian Bands "Batwel Rada" and "Tjovi Ginen".

At age 29, Totusek returned to Seattle, creating his new band name Freestyle Candela.

Today Totusek resides in Seattle still performing shows with his groups "Leif Totusek 1-2-3", "Freestyle Candela" and other artists.

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Top SongsAlbum
Take the E LineGo2:58
Papa FrancoFreestyle Candela7:33
In the LightNever Say Goodbye2:37
Otter's HoltBanshee4:06
Oh Fan FanFreestyle Candela6:13
Smiles DownGo6:35
FireNever Say Goodbye3:35
Josinda"Mbira & Guitar"7:41
Long Distance HighwayNever Say Goodbye4:30
Somewhere TrainNever Say Goodbye5:03
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