David Leon is a Cuban-American saxophonist, woodwinds player, and composer/improviser living in Brooklyn, New York. His diverse musical output is pervaded by the exploration of nuance: in timbre by creatively manipulating saxophone technique, in pitch by tampering with equal temperament and employing microtonality, and in texture possibility through orchestration and improvisation. As the winner of the 2017 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer’s Award, David debuted a new quartet at the Newport Jazz Festival in August of that year. In November 2018, he performed alongside pianist Kris Davis as part of The Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Series.
David plans to release his debut record as a leader Aire De Agua in Fall 2021. His other solo endeavors include the Current Obsession series – which documents improvisations with current collaborators, David Leon Trio; the co-led project Sound Underground, and various improvised configurations. An active sideperson, David has collaborated with artists including Ingrid Laubrock, Nick Dunston, Kris Davis, Justin Vernon, Brian Lynch, Adam O’Farrill, Brandon Seabrook, Kate Gentile, Chris Pitsiokos, Arturo O’Farrill, Tomas Fujiwara, Lesley Mok, Michael Formanek, Matt Mitchell, Henry Fraser, Michael Attias, Tom Rainey, and others. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, David discovered a love for music in his uncle’s collection of global percussion instruments. After starting formal instruction on piano he found the saxophone by chance, and was accepted into the prestigious New World School of the Arts high school to study jazz. He quickly garnered national recognition from the National YoungArts Foundation, the GRAMMY Foundation, the ASCAP Foundation, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Jazz Band of America. His trio #bicmnrosfulmfrenh was recognized as the Best Small Ensemble by Downbeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards in 2016.
David graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, as a member of the cross-genre Henry Mancini Institute. In addition, David is a two-time alumni of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program and the Banff Centre in Canada. He has been mentored by Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Kris Davis, and Ira Sullivan.