Joe Leader Biography
Joe has spent all of his life playing music. Born into a family of world-class musicians, Joe has grown up immersed in the passion of musical performance. In fact, Joe and his first band won the “Daily Telegraph Young Jazz Awards” aged sixteen.
His mother, pianist Lucille Orden Leader, studied with Alfred Brendel in Vienna, Edward Steuermann at Juilliard and Winfried Wolf at the Salzburg Mozarteum. She taught Joe to perform the saxophone in the spirit of the ‘Romantic style.’ Trained in the Stanislavski method of acting by his mother, Joe learned how to ‘make atmosphere’ with each note, each movement, each breath. Combining this musical intensity with Aikido Training (Second-Degree Black Belt), Joe’s thrilling stage performance is sought after the world over.
His vast experience enabled him to set up and lead a 20-piece show band called “The Joe Leader Collective,” who launched at London’s Café de Paris. Joe’s First Class Honours Degree in Music Technology from LCMM, empowered him to produce his own solo album, ‘Seductive Sax’.
The exciting debut release from this handsome young talent, features a stellar live performance at London’s Pizza Express Jazz club. Joe expertly fuses soulful Jazz with R&B, Rock and Pop, to create a thrilling album and ‘LIVE SAX’ Show. He enfolds you in a world of seduction, a world of irreplaceable beauty; through each note, he communicates emotions and feelings that touch the hearts of audiences worldwide. It is a unique, emotive musical journey leading to cool, rousing and powerful performances, unlike any other.
With 112,000 fans on Facebook, Joe’s debut album has 135 global radio plays per week and reached the Top 20 in the US Jazz charts. His incredible career has taken him all over the world, performing on stage with such greats as Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair, Joss Stone, Beverley Knight, Sandie Shaw, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Stephen Gately and Pharrell Williams.
I believe in the “limitless possibilities” of creation and of manifestation. I learn and practice my “art” to perform music that inspires and touches the hearts of my audience.
I was born to be a performer. As the Son of a famous concert Pianist, it is in my blood. My mother taught me to think about the atmosphere I wish to create and then project it through my music.
Read more of Joe's Philosophy There is an art to everything; an art to living, an art to loving and an art to playing music. I have to “live my art” and train to keep my congruency in life, my positive passion for everything I do, every breath I take and every note I play. As an ‘Artist’ my playing has to be an extension of who I’ve become. When I play, my intention is to “make atmosphere” with each note, each movement, each breath. I live each note, in every moment. This allows me to truly feel and project profound emotion to my audience.
There is an art to everything; an art to living, an art to loving and an art to playing music. I have to “live my art” and train to keep my congruency in life, my positive passion for everything I do, every breath I take and every note I play. As an ‘Artist’ my playing has to be an extension of who I’ve become. When I play, my intention is to “make atmosphere” with each note, each movement, each breath. I live each note, in every moment. This allows me to truly feel and project profound emotion to my audience.
Growing up learning both music performance and martial arts has made me the artist I am today. Passionate, flowing, dynamic and exciting! My father, a meticulous and compassionate Doctor, could see and appreciate the importance of additional physical training, with all the benefits that came with it; confidence, focus, stamina, inner balance and “flow”.
His maxim was “There are no problems, only delayed solutions.”Read more of Joe's Training
Our training together, in Aikido, taught me how to flow with movement, maintaining balance, inner strength and clarity of thought. This was referred to as “keeping my centre.” I learnt to find and focus on the centre of energy in my body associated with power and strength. I was taught to blend and harmonise with the movement of an attacker, in order for the techniques to achieve the desired result. This philosophy and dedication was tremendously important in my music performance, as it too, required a harmonious interaction with other musicians on stage, as well as the ability to flow with an improvised solo.
My rigorous training helped my confidence on stage as a performer, using my Aikido principles to keep my centre whilst I perform. Aikido is a balance of mind, body and spirit, cultivating the highest level of health, fitness, and mental clarity. Together with a vision and a spiritual connection to my higher-self, this allows me to express who I am through the medium of music, and to inspire people with my performances.
Music trained me to believe in magic and that anything was possible; martial arts gave me the focus and strength to achieve it!
- Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Festival – July 1996 (performed alongside Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Linda Brava)
- 60th Anniversary D-Day Celebrations/Literary Festival in Trouville, France – 2004
- “Joe Leader Collective” Gala show at Cafe De Paris – September 2007 (20-Piece showband in association with Absolut Vodka)
- Symphony Orchestra of India – Indian Cultural Festival (Mumbai and Chennai) – January 2011
- Global Angels Awards show (The Brewery, London, England) – December 2012 (with Joss Stone, Beverley Knight and Sandie Shaw)
- Featured shows at The Leicester Square Theatre, London, England – June 2012/2013
- Debut performance on the ‘Dave Koz & Friends at Sea’ Smooth Jazz cruise – October 2013
(with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Mindi Abair).
- Debut performance at The Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean St, London – February 2014
The Best of Joe Leader
Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get access to HD videos of hundreds of festivals worldwide!
“I hope that my music touches your heart and brings you great joy, each time you listen.”
– JOE LEADER
“Thanks Joe, you were great! We must do that again sometime!”
– JOSS STONE
“Joe Leader comes on to the instrumental music scene with a fresh approach and point of view on this new project. A great saxophonist for sure, but also a wonderful story-teller with his song writing and ability to deliver a melody.”
– DAVE KOZ
“This young artist is so much more than just a brilliant, classically trained musician. Joe brings power and passion to each note and a level of musical engagement that belies his youth. This sophisticated music is wrought with such emotion that it will leave you powerless to resist its magic.”
“Real heir of James Brown, he owns the stage with his charismatic presence”
– ABCDaire of Music
Interview with Joe Leader
Earlier this week, Festival Archive was able to touch base with one of our all-time favorite jazz saxophonists, Joe Leader. Hear what he had to say…
If somebody has never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them in one sentence?
A fusion of Jazz with funk, soul, R&B and Classical, to truly touch the heart…passionate, sincere, charismatic and cinematic.
Who were your main musical inspirations growing up?
My cousin Felix King was a famous Jazz band leader (1940’s), so I’ve had influence from both family and friends. Many years ago, a pianist friend of mine introduced me to the music of Dave Koz and Smooth Jazz/Saxophone artists Grover Washington Jr. , Maceo Parker, Charlie Parker and Gerald Albright. Other musical influences in my playing were definitely Blues and Soul legends, Ray Charles, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and BB King. Other musical inspirations include Santana, Mario Lanza and Maxwell.
On the classical side, my mother, a wonderful Concert Pianist, played Chopin for me as a child, so I have a distinct ‘Romantic’ influence from her.
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
I was born to be a performer. As the Son of a famous concert Pianist, it is in my blood. My mother taught me to think about the emotion I wish to convey to my audience, though my music. As an ‘Artist’ my playing has to be an extension of who I am. When I play, my intention is to “make atmosphere” with each note, each movement, each breath.
Your debut Live album, ‘Seductive Sax’, has 135 global radio plays per week and reached the Top 20 in the US Jazz charts. How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
It was originally intended as just a recording to capture my debut solo Smooth Jazz gig. The show featured a collection of some of my favourite Smooth Jazz tunes, which I arranged, ‘Seductive Sax’ style! After listening back to the recording, I realised that we had captured such an inspired live gig, that I felt it deserved to be shared. My goal for the album is to introduce Saxman – Joe Leader to the world of Smooth Jazz…and beyond! I hope that it truly touches the hearts of my audience every time they listen to it.
What has been your most memorable gig ?
It has to be the 60th Anniversary D-Day Celebrations/Literary Festival in Trouville, France – 2004. This was so memorable because not only was I asked to represent Britain in this amazing cultural event, but I also had to find a way to cope with the pain and stress of a fractured shoulder…to give one of the best performances of my life. It proves the old adage that the show must go on ! I was so proud also to perform with my sister, Felicia for my first international booking. Wonderful memories and extremely proud of my achievement.
Which is the one place where you’ve always wanted to perform?
The Royal Albert Hall, in London. Growing up, I have seen many of the world’s top artists perform in this magical, elegant arena of excellence. I have always regarded my performance there to represent reaching the pinnacle of my career.
What in your life outside of your music drives you in a creative sense?
I have studied the Japanese martial art Aikido, since I was 7 years old, and now hold a 2nd Degree Black belt.
Aikido is a balance of mind, body and spirit, cultivating the highest level of health, fitness, and mental clarity. Together with a vision and a spiritual connection to my higher-self, this allows me to express who I am through the medium of music, and to inspire people with my performances. It taught me how to flow with movement, maintaining balance, inner strength and clarity of thought.
This philosophy and dedication was tremendously important in my music performance, as it too, required a harmonious interaction with other musicians on stage, as well as the ability to flow with an improvised solo.
What would be the most important piece of advice you’d impart to a young musician just starting out in the jazz/smooth jazz arena?
Always have passion for what you do. If it gets you out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face and fire in your heart, then you’re doing the right thing! Focus on your intention and purpose in your life and in your music…..make sure they are aligned with your highest values. Above all, stay true to yourself and express that in your music, with every note you play! Make sure that your physical body supports your musical activities i.e. keep fit, eat well, sleep well and believe in yourself no matter what. Stay the course!
What’s your favourite charity or cause you work for, and why?
It is an honour to be a Global Ambassador for the ‘Global Angels’ foundation. This is a ‘100% Promise’ charity which affects positive change to millions of underprivileged children and their communities around the world. www.globalangels.org.
Getting to know Molly Bedingfield, the founder, I was inspired by her belief that one person with a vision can affect positive change on a global level, and was excited to be a part of the Global Angel family.
I stand by my belief in life, that anything my mind can conceive, and my heart believes, I CAN achieve. I have overcome many health challenges in my life, and as an ambassador, my aim is to be an inspiration and an example of the limitless possibilities of courage and determination to get through all adversity.
We would like to thank Joe for taking the time to talk with us, we hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about this talented musician. Remember to check out Joe’s website for further details on upcoming gigs and album releases.
Thank you Joe and best of luck with your future endeavors.
The Festival Archive team
Your source for comprehensive jazz festival information worldwide