Also playing DUO/TRIO gigs with Guitarist Bob Dee
Leonisa Ardizzone is a juggler. Not a juggler of colorful balls or bowling pins, but of her interests, ideals and avocations. One by one, throughout her life she has added to her juggler’s props - teaching, dancing, singing, writing, working for peace and justice, parenting…On occasion Leonisa’s passions for music and live performance have been overshadowed by her roles as an educator and mother, but never for long. Music and entertaining is the thing that feeds her soul. And as a skilled juggler, she knows when to put a thing down to add another. Enter Leonisa Ardizzone Quintet.

By day Leonisa runs her own science education business, Storefront Science. Her evenings are shared with her ever-engaging daughter Rafaella. But in-between and whenever she can, she makes music. The Leonisa Ardizzone Quartet features Leonisa on vocals, Jess Jurkovic on piano, Justin Hines on drums and Bob Sabin (or Marc Wade) on bass. Critics praise the group, saying [the group] “is flexible and can turn on a dime…everyone is obviously having a good time with the music” (George Harris, All About Jazz LA), and sounds “at home with each other so it’s easy to feel at home with them” (Rob Lester).

Leonisa is a “multi-faceted vocalist” with “a lovely textured voice” (John Gilbert, ejazz news), who “aces any musical twists and turns” (Rob Lester). She is a vocalist “who swings articulates and phrases wonderfully from the first the last…” (Jersey Jazz). Her “vocalese, scat singing and original lyrics fit comfortably in the pocket.” (Jim Santella, Cadence). While reviewers may praise her, Leonisa does not consider herself a singer with a backing band but rather a member of the group. The band is a cohesive and creative unit and she is another instrument interpreting the repertoire. Because of this collaborative mindset, the interplay between the musicians is stellar; they complement and enhance one another. They share the spotlight and push the creative envelope.

Following-up on a critically acclaimed debut CD (Afraid of the Heights, ardijenn music, 2007), Leonisa  released “the scent of bitter almonds…” in 2008, which reflects a personally tumultuous year for Leonisa. The song choices, arrangements and overall feel of the music reveal heartbreak, uncertainty, loss, passion and rediscovery. The album tells of many kinds of love and conveys the roller coaster of emotion that deep love can evoke. “the scent of bitter almonds…” includes refreshing takes on standards (‘My Romance’, ‘Midnight Sun’, ‘A Train’ and ‘Willow Weep for Me’), bopping highs (‘Joy Spring’ and the original ‘Queen of the Universe’ inspired by the loss of her aged and beloved dog), autobiographical originals (‘On the Ropes’, ‘The Architect’s Lament’ and ‘Falling Down’, which captures the bittersweet feelings of watching your child grow up), and cheeky “kiss-off” tunes (‘Well You Needn’t’ and ‘Blues on the Corner’ with original lyrics by Ardizzone). Drummer Justin Hines – who enjoys writing songs for Leonisa - once again adds a comical original into the mix, the unlikely love song ‘Scary Face’.

“the scent of bitter almonds…” is a passionate journey filled with excellent musicianship that caresses, jostles and engages.

Currently, Leonisa is preparing to record another album of standards and originals with her quartet. She performs duo gigs with pianist Jess Jurkovic or guitarist Bob Dee, and trio work that brings in Marc Wade (on bass) or Justin Hines (on drums).  She also curates a Jazz Vespers series at the 4th Universalist Society in the City of New York.