“In Leo Blanco's music I hear memory and desire – both his meticulous
ear for the varieties of South American tradition...”
– Christopher Lydon, National Public Radio, U.S
Leo Blanco is a Venezuelan pianist, arranger and composer. Leo 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 music and pop. At the age of 11 he already was a member of the Mérida Youth Symphony Orchestra.
After moving to Caracas at the age of 16 he performed and recorded with his own Jazz trio, while studying Improvisation, jazz harmony and piano at the musical Institute “Ars Nova” and University of Musical Studies. Soon he started working with very well known jazz and Latin pop national artists. During his eight year in Caracas, Leo obtained vast experience as a composer, arranger, and musical producer while working as musical director at the city’s oldest and most important jazz venue, Juan Sebastian Bar. There, with the Leo Blanco Trio, he shared the stage with major international jazz artist such as Terence Blanchard, Danilo Perez, Pat Metheny, Chucho Valdez (Irakere), Joao Bosco, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
His interest in world music and jazz brought him to Boston in 1996, where he immediately obtained a full scholarship to study composition and improvisation in both Berklee and then New England Conservatory. His talent and dedication to music was very quickly recognized in the US. In March 1996, Leo was the first Latin American to win to a prestigious Jazz awards: the “Boston Jazz Society Award”, and in May of the same year, he received 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. Comissioned to write a new piece “End of the Amazonia” for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Leo continued to be very active in the international music scene. He has participated in a number of musical projects, adding his creativity and talents to other genres such as North American folk, Afro Latin, classical. He has played with highly acclaimed artists such as Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses, Dave Samuels, Jamey Haddad, Antonio Sanchez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jane Bunnett.
In the international arena, Leo has been a guest of renowned World Music and Jazz 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), Music Festival de Paleo (Switzerland). He was invited to perform and record a T.V Broadcast by the Cultural Ministry of Yugoslavia. He has played as guest soloist with several Venezuelan orchestras, including Symphonic Orchestra of Funda Ayacucho, Symphonic Orchestra of Mérida and the Symphonic Orchestra of Lara.
Blanco’s most recent Album CD is “AFRICA LATINA’ on the European label Ayva with notable musicians like saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Antonio Sánchez and guitarist Lionel Louke, among others. This new recording is “an excursion through the music hinterland of African music influenced on Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.”