Originally an instrumental trio, featuring violinist Bela Balogh, cellist Gabe Leavitt, and accordionist Courtney Von Drehle, 3 Leg Torso is one of Portland, OR's truly eclectic bands. Their original tunes incorporate elements of modern chamber music, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European folk music, and Argentinean tango. CMJ described the group's sound as "all the beauty of Astor Piazzolla's music and the spirit of the Kronos Quartet." Portland Online Musicnet claimed their music "seems to be a conversation between the instruments and actually conveys a sort of dialogue without the use of lyrics, much in the way that the old Merry Melodies/Silly Symphony cartoons used to do." Http://www.janpress.freeservers.com agreed, writing that their music is "evocative, varied, non-cliché, and also not predefined by the accordion's sound." 3 Leg Torso represents the combined vision of three veteran musicians.
Leavitt had played guitar and electric bass before switching to cello. Balogh had played violin since the age of four. A first generation American, he inherited his musical talents from his father, a touring violinist and conductor, and grandfather, who led a Hungarian gypsy band. Although he studied classical violin for many years, he switched to rock as a member of Greased Priest, the Willies, and Lobe, where he met future 3 Leg Torso bandmate, Von Drehle. Equally proficient on saxophone, guitar, and accordion, Von Drehle received a bachelor's degree in music from Marylhurst College. A former member of Tone Dogs, Hester Street, Poikilothem, as well as Lobe, he continues to play in two bands besides 3 Leg Torso. POD (Points of Departure), is a jazz trio that he shares with piano and trumpet player Mike Van Lieu and drummer/percussionist Brian "Von" Davis, while the Topiary Kings are an improvisatory duo with drummer and theremin player Larold Wills.
Released in April 1998, 3 Leg Torso's debut album included "Divertissments for Performing Bears," which became the theme song of a popular television series in Bosnia. The group's music was heard in With Hope and Help, a United Nations-funded video documentary on AIDs in Thailand, and in two films by animator Joan Gratz -- The Dowager's Feast and The Dowager's Idyll. 3 Leg Torso became a sextet with the addition of bassist Peter Whitmore, vibes, marimba, and xylophone player Rob Lewis, and dumbek, bongos, conga, and tar player Joseph Jariga in 2000. ~ Craig Harris