Queens-born jazz flutist Jan Leder showed musical talent from an early age, tapping out melodies on the family piano at the age of three and quickly surpassing her older siblings when, at the age of five, she began piano lessons (that were to last six years) with her classically trained mother. It was not until junior high school, however, that Jan Leder first picked up her current instrument, the flute. In her formal lessons, she studied classical flute (including three years with flutist/conductor Paul Dunkel) but in her free time, she taught herself to improvise rock & roll and pop/R&B tunes alongside local guitarists in New York's Central Park. Leder was a mere 17 years old when she began studying with famed jazz pianist Lennie Tristano, with whom she continued until his death in 1978. Although Leder credits Tristano with helping her come into her own as a musician, real recognition and commercial success were to elude her until the late 1990's. She got her first big break when Buddy Scott and colleagues from Monad records heard her playing at The Dockside in Tarrytown, New York in 1994. Leder's tape of a live date with Art Lillard and others at the Five Spot in New York so impressed Scott, that he signed her to a Monad Records contract and released the live recording intact as the CD Passage to Freedom. Unfortunately, Passage to Freedom, which includes some really nice work by drummer Lillard, pianist Jon Davis, bassist Yosuke Inoue, and guitarist Mark McCarron, was released just as Monad Records met its demise, leaving Leder's debut effort largely unavailable and unnoticed for close to two years. In 1998 and 1999, exposure via the internet brought her to the attention of a wider audience and earned her very favorable reviews for Passage to Freedom. In 1998, A-Records vocalist Diane Hubka recorded Leder's original composition "Thinking of You" on her own debut CD, Haven't We Met, which was nominated for a Jazz Award in the Best Debut CD category. Leder's contribution to Hubka's CD ultimately led to her signing a recording contract with A-Records, a division of the Dutch label, Challenge Records. In 1999, Jan Leder released her second CD, Nonchalant, on which she added the talents of NY bassist Sean Smith, percussionist Daniel Moreno, and vocalists Angela DeNiro, Mary Foster Conklin, and Cleve Douglass to the already strong instrumental talents of Passage to Freedom collaborators Lillard, McCarron and Davis.
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