Raised by Italian opera lovers, Ardizzone began studying music at age 4 – first piano and voice, then violin at age 8 and oboe in high school. In her twenties, she found jazz.
While music was her deep love, Ardizzone’s curiosity and zest for life took her on a wild and impulse-driven journey of exploration and learning. Ardizzone has always lived her life in “Yes!” and thus rarely backs down from an opportunity for discovery. She became a biologist and then a science educator, eventually getting a doctorate from Columbia University in International Peace Education.
During her studies and subsequent work as a professor and non-profit executive, Leonisa played jazz gigs at New York City clubs including Sweet Rhythm, Iridium, Danny’s, the Duplex, and the Kitano.
The Leonisa Ardizzone Quartet formed in 1997 and released two critically acclaimed CDs, Afraid of the Heights in 2007 and the scent of bitter almonds in 2009. Critics praised the group, saying the quartet “is flexible and can turn on a dime…everyone is obviously having a good time with the music” (George Harris, All About Jazz), and sounds “at home with each other so it’s easy to feel at home with them” (Rob Lester, Talkin’ Broadway).
In 2010, shortly after the release of the quartet’s second album, Ardizzone found herself a solo mom, and her focus was squarely on raising her child. Thanks to her education background, she held various creative day jobs (even starting her own science center) and continued to make music—although not as much as she would have liked— playing gigs with her quartet and curating (as well as leading) a Jazz Vespers series at the 4th Universalist Society on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.