Leo Blanco, Jazz and Contemporary Music - Piano, Ensembles, Improvisation
Leo Blanco grew up in Mérida-Venezuela, where from early age he was surrounded by Venezuelan folklore -a blend of African and European musical traditions- as well as jazz, classical and pop. While being a member of the El Sistema Mérida Youth Symphony Orchestra, he moved to Caracas at the age of 16 where he performed and recorded with his own jazz trio, while studying improvisation, jazz harmony and piano at the Ars Nova Institute and University of Musical Studies. Soon he started working with well known jazz and Latin pop national artists. During his eight years in Caracas, Mr. Blanco obtained vast experience as a composer, arranger and musical producer.
With the Leo Blanco Trio, he shared the stage with major international jazz artist such as Terence Blanchard, Danilo Pérez, Pat Metheny, Chucho Valdés, João Bosco, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. His interest in world music and jazz brought him to Boston in 1996, where he obtained a full scholarship to study composition and improvisation in both Berklee College of Music and then New England Conservatory. His talent and dedication to music was very quickly recognized in the US. In 1996, Mr. Blanco was the first Latin American to win prestigious Jazz awards: the Boston Jazz Society Award and the Billboard Grant Award for his talent, commitment, achievement and other attributes indicating that he is likely to make a significant contribution to society through music. He was also commissioned to write a new piece entitled “End of the Amazonia” for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.
Leo Blanco has been a guest of many renowned music festivals, such as Newport Jazz Festival (USA), Monterey Jazz Festival (USA), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Edinburgh’s International Festival (Scotland), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Kobe Jazz Festival (Japan), Festival de Música (Brazil), Festival Latino Americano (Italy), Festival Latino (Italy), Festival Tentarera (Germany), and Music Festival de Paleo (Switzerland). He has been featured on a Cultural Ministry of Yugoslavia television broadcast and as a guest soloist with several Venezuelan orchestras, including Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Symphonic Orchestra, Mérida Symphonic Orchestra as well as the Lara Symphonic Orchestra, among many others.
As a composer, Blanco has an extensive catalogue of works for string orchestra, string quartet, woodwinds ensemble, percussion ensemble as well as for world jazz band.
Mr. Blanco has given masterclasses in different major institutions around the world such as Oberlin College, University of Tennessee, New England Conservatory, Boston University, Aberdeen University (Scotland). Some of the subjects are: Improvisation Techniques for Classical Musicians and Ryhtmic Techniques for Performers and Composers. Guest speaker at 2012 TED´s Conference with the lecture “The African Diaspora Influence in the Music of South America”.
Leo Blanco is on the faculty of Longy School of Music of Bard College, Berklee College of Music, and Boston College.