Jay Leonhart on the birth of Group 15: "We started off with the usual jazz standards from the composers of the first half of the century, still at some point we wandered into a little be-bop and some Monk songs. You know how it happens, the devil makes you do it. But the applause grew more appreciative and enthusiastic. We started noticing what a gentle and persuasive vehicle our fifteen strings were for some of the more complex Monk compositions. Right there I thought that this group should record. By the next evening Sunnyside had agreed to record the CD.
Those of you who are always counting strings will need to know that Tom Aalfs plays a five string electric violin, Peter Bernstein plays the hell out of the standard 6 string guitar, and I remain faithful to the 4 stringed bass viol, which adds up to fifteen strings and voilà!... Group 15. I keep worrying that 5, 6, and 4 are not going to add up to 15 when it really counts.
Tom Aalfs is from Massachusetts, Peter Bernstein is from Manhattan, and I am from Baltimore. And in spite of the vast geographical and cultural differences between us, we have managed to find our way together through some fascinating and historic Thelonious Monk music. We hope you enjoy Group 15."