Born: September 16, 1939 Primary Instrument: Percussion
NEW CD RELEASE: Leopoldo F. Fleming & Christian Gonsior: TRATO COMÚN,
Leopoldo F. Fleming, perc; Christian Gonsior, sx/fl; Dinah Vero, p; Joel Diamond, p; Alex Hernández, b; Emilio Valdés, d/timb; José Mangual Jr., voc.
Originals of jazz, Caribbean/Cuban, African styles and inspiration by Fleming & Gonsior respectively, plus one Puerto Rican standard. Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, NJ, August 23, 2012. Alessa Records Jazz & Art ALR 1023. Orders: email@example.com.
NB: To watch a diversity of videos ranging 1965-now, click on 'Videos' just under the entire bio!'
LEOPOLDO F. FLEMING
Leopoldo Fleming Afro Caribbean Jazz Ensemble, New York, created in and maintained since 2006.
Percussionist, composer, arranger, lyricist, band leader Leopoldo F. Fleming is a great personality with a rich and multicolored palette, inspiration from his Latin-Afro-Indian roots, his childhood in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, decades as highly active in the jazz and beyond music scene of New York, and his international experience collaborating and touring all over Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, with US, Caribbean, and African stars.
Mainly a jazz musician, Leopoldo is well versed in several genres - jazz, funk, R&B, Caribbean, Cuban, Brazilian, African, gospel and spirituals. He is a brilliant accompanist, a fascinating soloist, has a special melodic gift in his playing, and his performances sparkle with surprises, sophistication, grace, and exquisite timing. To quote Nat Hentoff: “...I was in a NY nightclub, and what intrigued me was a musician I had never heard before. He was playing various percussion instruments and extracting extraordinarily fresh, unexpected hues from his instruments with a grace and flawless timing that really made him the star of the show. He was Leopoldo Fleming.”
Throughout his entire career Leopoldo has constantly developed, explored, and pursued new ideas and inspiration, maintaining his reputation as a world-class performer, never compromising on the authenticity of rhythms and styles according to his genuine deep knowledge and feeling.
At each of the Leopoldo Fleming Afro Caribbean Jazz Ensemble's performances at venues and festivals, this band has truly enthused with a variety of intriguing rhythms and beautiful tunes, played with warm and deep artistic intensity - a spiced mix of standards, as well as originals by Leopoldo, everything in new and different arrangements of his, among other as a recurring event at the annual STATEN ISLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL.
He has been a mainstay with The New York Harlem Singers from its inception by music director Linda Twine, e.g. touring in Asia each December. Also as a continual tradition, in February each year Leopoldo works with The Shadow Box Theater in New York.
For a couple of years he was a member of and recently recorded with the all- stars Lou Caputo Not So Big Band and also appears on a newly released Lou Caputo & Chris White CD.
Leopoldo has played, recorded, toured with a cornucopia of other great artists such as Miriam Makeba for a number of years since 1965, Nina Simone off and on for 31 years, 2008 -10 followed by Sing The Truth tours (a tribute to Nina Simone including original NS band members Al Schackman, Chris White, Paul Robinson, Leopoldo F. Fleming + on piano Geri Allen/Jeremy Berlin/Bob Dorough respectively and featuring among others Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patti Austin, Lizz Wright, Angélique Kidjo, Simone Kelly and Stacey Kent, going to Istanbul, 10 countries of Europe, Australia, New Zealand) - and more great artists such as Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, Randy Weston (in big band format and a trio including Ron Carter), Sonny Stitt, Archie Shepp, Novella Nelson, Lonnie Liston Smith, Queen Esther Marrow, Leo Wright, Monica Zetterlund, Beaver Harris, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Richard Grove Holmes, Leon Thomas, Bob Cunningham, Kenny Barron, Horace Parlan, David Murray, Symphony of the New World, The String Reunion, The World Bass Violin Ensemble, Boys' Choir of Harlem and a number of local world class musicians in Vienna, Copenhagen and other places of Europe.
To pick out just a couple of many great moments of Leopoldo's artistry in recent years:
November 2008, Leopoldo's special contribution at the memorial concert at the Poisson Rouge (former Village Gate) for Mama Afrika, Miriam Makeba, who had passed one week earlier, and with whom Leopoldo had played, toured, and recorded for years since 1965.
October 2007, on the occasion of the Memorial Dedication of the new African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan, at the official ceremony Leopoldo led the 10 piece band of drummers, percussionists, and a flutist, which performance got extensive television news coverage throughout the day, and again, at the ceremonious evening Candlelight Procession from Battery Park to the Burial Ground Leopoldo led another 16 piece drummer/percussion band.
Autumn 06 keeping Leopoldo busy as musical director, composer, and arranger for Dana Manno's production in NYC of the musical Queen Coziah, a Caribbean drama by Eddie Donoghue. The show received standing ovations.
Re. CD Afro Indian Bluess:
In the September 2007 issue of the AllAboutJazz-New York gazette, this Jim Pepper, Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Cox, Leopoldo Fleming CD is categorized an Unearthed Gem, and Donald Elfman praises Leopoldo for showing true versatility and appealing accessibility.
In an AllAboutJazz.com review of the same album, Bill Siegel writes: '...On percussion, Leopoldo Fleming takes a flight with a solo that's absolute, total music - he plays the melody on his drums, not just a riff on the rhythm. You can almost hear the distant echo of Myers' singing below the drums. Don't be fooled towards the end of Fleming's solo. That's not him stepping aside to let Cox slip in a few bars on his bass. Those deep notes are Fleming's fingertips rubbing the skins of his congas.'
Theater credits also include: The Burt Reynold's Dinner Theater production of Cowboy and the Legend starring Eartha Kitt, the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of The Haggadah, Dispatches, Runaways, and Alice in Wonderland starring Meryll Streep. Leopoldo composed the original music for this theater's Les Femmes Noires, Sister Sonji, and Black Visions. Another of his projects with that same theater was a workshop presentation of Rumba, a works-in-progress that he wrote and co-directed. Furthermore Leopoldo was Musical Director for the Brooklyn Academy of Music's production of LeRoi Jones' (= Imanu Barraka's) Slaveship, where he worked together with Archie Shepp and Gilbert Moses. He has toured extensively with the New Orleans based Free Southern Theater, and he has also composed the music for episodes of and performed in an educational US television series for children called Vegetable Soup.
Since 1951 Leopoldo's home is New York, however, from 1987 to 98 he had residence in Vienna, Austria, and since 2006 he has a base in Copenhagen, Denmark, too.
In an AllAboutJazz.com review of the same album, Bill Siegel writes: ...On percussion, Leopoldo Fleming takes a flight with a solo that's absolute, total music - he plays the melody on his drums, not just a riff on the rhythm. You can almost hear the distant echo of Myers' singing below the drums. Don't be fooled towards the end of Fleming's solo. That's not him stepping aside to let Cox slip in a few bars on his bass. Those deep notes are Fleming's fingertips rubbing the skins of his congas.
In his liner notes to the Lonnie Liston Smith album of Expansions, Nat Hentoff writes: ...I was in a NY nightclub, and what intrigued me was a musician I had never heard before. He was playing various percussion instruments and extracting extraordinarily fresh, unexpected hues from his instruments with a grace and flawless timing that really made him the star of the show. He was Leopoldo Fleming, and he is heard here on bongos, as well as on the triangle that starts off Expansions..., and Hentoff continues: ...Leopoldo, Lonnie said, has been to Africa and to other countries as a student of the roots of the music. The first time I heard him, I knew I wanted him to play with us...
Leopoldo F. Fleming & Chris Gonsior: TRATO COMÚN (NJ 2012, Alessa Records ALR 1023)
Lou Caputo & Chris White: Interface (NY/NJ 2012, JazzCat 47 Records JC- 1824)
Lou Caputo Not So Big Band: Not So Big Band (New York 2010 JazzCat47) www.loucaputo.com
Jim Pepper, Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Cox, Leopoldo Fleming: Afro Indian Blues (Raab, Austria 1991/2006, PAO Records/SBF Records)
Bill Siegel AllAboutJazz review of Afro Indian Blues: http://allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=22541#.UQT_Ua5lhsw
Spiritual Singers of Harlem: Dry Bones (Seoul, South Korea 2003)
Robin Kenyatta: Cool Blue (New York 2001)
Guadalupe Raventos: Thamgo City (2000/01)
Jarek Smietana & Gary Bartz: African Lake (New York 2000)
Vieux Diop: Afrika Wassa (2000)
Spiritual Singers of Harlem: Swing Low Sweet Chariot (Seoul South Korea 1999)
David Murray: Speaking in Tongues (1999)
Archie Shepp: St. Louis Blues (1998/2004)
Patience Higgins'Sugar Hill Quartet: Live in Harlem (1998)
Jarek Smietana & Ricardo Styla: Kind of Life (Krakow, Poland 1998)
Per Shqiperine: Tira (1997)
Jozef Dodo Sosoka featuring Leopoldo Fleming, Drums and Percussion Acoustic Music - Live from Vienna (1996)
Phone3Phone: A Peaceful Crowd (RST Records 91621, 1996) Vieux Diop: Via Jo (1995/96/2002)
Phone3Phone: Blue Green Desires (1995)
Brian Keane: Common Planet (Trumbull, CT, and New York 1991/92)
Dave Hubbard: Labor Of Love (including Dr. Lonnie Smith) (1985)
Runaways, Original Broadway cast (1978/2003)
Ron Odrich: Blackstick (1978)
The Runaways, Original Soundtrack, Original Broadway Cast, Elizabeth Swados (DRG 19047-1996/67)
Sonny Stitt: Stomp Off Let's Go (Flying Dutchman Records BDL1-1538) 1976, reissued on CD F D 1 -1538)
Richard Groove Holmes: I'm In The Mood For Love (Flying Dutchman Records BDL1-1537) 1975-76)
Michel Sardaby: Gail (1975)
Lonnie Liston Smith: Reflections of a Golden Dream (New York, Flying Dutchman Records BDL 1-1460 1976/2004)
Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes: Expansions (New York, Flying Dutchman Records BDL1-0934 1974-75/1995)
Beaver Harris 360 0 Degree Music Experience: From Ragtime to No Time, African Drums/No Time (1974)
Dick Griffin: The Eight Wonder (1974)
Melvin van Peebles: What the ... You Mean I Can't Sing? (1974)
Camille Yarbrough: The Iron Pot Cooker (1971)
Nina Simone, e.g. Here Comes the Sun (1971)
Sivuca: SIVUCA (1969)
Miriam Makeba, many recordings, e.g.
The Magnificent Miriam Makeba (1966),
Live At Bern's Salonger (Stockholm, Sweden 1966)
In Concert (1967),
Click Song (19..),
Pata Pata (19..),
Live in Sweden
Live in Tokyo (Reprise 1968)
Monica Zetterlund: Att Angora en Brygga and more (1966, reissued on a number of CDs)
Various recordings reissued on compilations, among others:
Flying Funk (Bluebird, RCA, Flying Dutchman/Bluebird 2003)
Quebec Cent Ans de Chansons Folkloriques (2003)
Jazz On Americas West Coast (2003)
Miriam Makeba In Concert/Pata Pata/Makeba (2002)
Americas Newest Praise & Worship, vol. 3 (2002)
Summer Solstice Vol. 2 (1998)
I Like It (1996)
Vanguard (Ace) (1996),
African Voices (Songs of Life) (Narada, 1996)
Movie, DVD and video:
Movie/DVD: Mama Africa (2011)
Nina Simone Live At the Montreal Jazz Festivals 1992 and 2000 (frequently shown on TV around the US).
Nina Simone Live At Montreux 1976, bonus tracks from 1987 and 4 bonus tracks from 1990 with Leopoldo.
Miriam Makeba: Live at Berns Salonger, Stockholm 1966/2003.
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