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  • Writer's pictureNina Cherry

Leslie Maclean

Updated: Aug 4, 2021


Leslie Maclean, pianist, composer, vocalist and teacher, has been a professional musician since the age of 13. While in college, Leslie worked extensively with free jazz proponent Muhul Richard Abrams. Her imaginative and artistic performance at the Midwest Intercollegiate Jazz Festival won her the esteemed American Music Foundation Award, granted to the single outstanding instrumental soloist at the event. Leslie was deemed “the best” by judging panelist Marian McPartland, who presented the award.

She opened for jazz legend Stan Kenton, and has appeared at many top Chicago jazz clubs and on television and radio. Leslie has also performed with guitarist Mundell Lowe and drummer Roy Burns. She cites as one of her main influences the music of the swing-era big bands, and enjoys bringing the ensemble-style articulations of the big band sound into her playing and her arrangements.

Her piano style also owes much to her background in classical music and displays a satisfying depth of touch and sensitivity to the piano keyboard. Leslie’s original tunes reflect her wide-ranging musical interests and run the gamut from straight-ahead swing and well-crafted ballads to driving Latin rhythms and jazz fusion.

Maclean earned a Master of Music in piano performance at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University.

“Leslie Maclean’s masterful pianistic dexterity and harmonic sophistication tend to rival some of jazz’s more prominent pianists on THAT’S TIME ENOUGH.”

— Paula Edelstein, Music Journalist, Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Leslie’s trio, originally from Chicago, has appeared at many of that city’s top jazz clubs including Orphan’s on Lincoln Avenue, The Bulls in Lincoln Park West, and The Back Room on Rush Street. The group now performs throughout the Midwest region where it continues to play unique, exciting and passionate renditions of jazz classics as well as Leslie’s original compositions.

The Trio has appeared at top jazz venues in the Midwest including Jardine's, Bar Natasha, The Blue Room, Green Lady Lounge, Black Dolphin (KC), Dazzle (Denver), University of Illinois, The Broadview (Wichita), Acoustic Sounds Café (Little Rock), the Ritz-Carlton, Cafe Balaban, the Bistro, Finale and other jazz venues in the St. Louis area.

No stranger to radio and TV media, the group has appeared on Ross Gentile’s ‘Standards in Jazz’ radio show on WSIE-FM, Don Wolfe’s Saturday night Jazz Show on KMOX-AM, Groovy Grant's "The Original Traffic Jam" show and KC’s “Afternoon Jazz” show both on KKFI-FM, Ginnie Coleman’s “Just Jazz” show on KCUR, David Basse’s “The Jazz Scene” show on KANU, Barry Gaston’s “The Jazz Café” show on KMUW, Joe Boehnlein’s show on WICR, and the Morning Show on FOX 2 TV in St. Louis. The Trio's newest CD, That’s Time Enough, received national airplay and international airplay in the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Bogotá, Colombia.

Leslie Maclean adds a special dimension to her piano-based jazz trio with unique arrangements that create a trio-sized big band sound. The music features the sophisticated harmonies and rhythms that are the hallmarks of modern mainstream jazz. Just as in large ensemble arranging, Maclean uses each instrument to the fullest, providing all members of the group with equally important musical elements to contribute. Maclean’s arrangements also draw on her extensive classical background, exhibiting a wide range of emotion, complex thematic development, and intense musical drama. Always engaging, with warmth, humor, and delightful surprises waiting around every corner, the Leslie Maclean Trio takes each listener on an unforgettable journey through the many facets of jazz.


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