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"Influenced by artists such as Miles Davis and intrigued by the idea of musical improvisation, he knew right away he'd found a new love."

The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre

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Plays Gershwin
Daniel Shearer
Time Off
Jun 10, 2002
 

Mr. Leonhardt formed his current band in 1993, the same year he established his record label, Big Bang Records. The group has performed stateside at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, the Blue Note and Birdland in Manhattan, as well as international appearances at the International Arts Festival of Shenzen, China, the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, and Maison de Dance in Lyon, France. Matthew Parrish, a Yardley resident, has played bass with many musicians, notably the late trombonist Al Grey and violinist Regina Carter. Larry McKenna, a longtime Philadelphia resident, got his start performing with Woody Herman’s big band and over the next four decades established himself as a skilled saxophonist, arranger and educator. Drummer Taro Okamoto, a native of Osaka, Japan, met Mr. Leonhardt in New York in the early ‘80s and has regularly performed there for the last 20 years. Vocalist Nancy Reed hails from Brooklyn, NY, and lives in the Poconos. To date, Mr. Leonhardt has released 11 albums on Big Bang Records, including The David Leonhardt Jazz Group Plays Gershwin, with solid recordings of “A Foggy Day,” “S’ Wonderful” and “But Not for Me,” among others. “To me, doing obscure Gershwin almost misses the point of it,” Mr. Leonhardt says. “We got a great response from the album, and that’s why we do these Gershwin concerts. It’s recognizable material. People like it when they can relate to it, and it’s beautiful stuff. “ “The hardest thing is to do something that people will find fresh and musical, as opposed to just playing in a cabaret kind of cocktail way. That’s the danger when you go into a really overdone songbook like Gershwin, but I think we’ve succeeded, at least, that’s what the reviewers say.”


 
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