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Trumpeter Michael Leonhart Interviewed at AAJ

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Michael Leonhart
For most musicians, writers and actors, making the final decision to go against the grain and pursue a paycheck-to-paycheck, month-to-month career as a performing artist is one of the harder choices in life. Yet for trumpeter Michael Leonhart, a life in jazz and art is “all in the family": his father is the noted jazz bassist, studio musician and humorist Jay Leonhart; and his sister is the sprightly, sassy, and torchy alt-rock and jazz singer Carolyn Leonhart. And after a three-decade hiatus as a wife and mom, his mother Donna resumed her career as a singer in 1999.

The youngest member of the Leonhart family started his trumpet playing at the age of 10, after stabs at keyboards, violin and drums (most of which he also still plays) starting at age seven. The trumpet prodigy was playing his first professional gigs by the time he was all of 12 and 13 years old, backing his father at The Blue Note, and by 16, he was the star pupil at New York's legendary Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts (where the movie Fame was set), when no less than Wynton Marsalis personally invited the 16-year-old “serious swinger" to dinner to compare notes.

Leonhart is celebrating the release of Seahorse and the Storyteller (Truth and Soul Records, 2010), with his Avramina 7 group, and AAJ Contributor Telly Davidson was on-hand to speak with the trumpeter, about his new group, his work in the film industry, and being a gun-for-hire for artists ranging from {Steely Dan}} and Yoko Ono to Ben Sidran and rising star Nikki Yanofsky.

Check out Michael Leonhart: A Fortunate Son at AAJ today!

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