Leo Sidran

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer Leo Sidran was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, which is sometimes referred to as 70 square miles surrounded by reality. Ben, his father, was a multifaceted musician who provided him with musical sustenance in his youth. His mother, a weaver, and travel agent, gave him texture and safe passage. Mucho Leo was Sidran’s fourth solo album, his first in a decade. And when we say “solo”, Sidran is not only the singer and player, but also recorded and mixed the album. Sidran says it makes perfect sense. “It is a very personal project and after a long time of working behind the scenes. It’s an important creative statement, but I also want to share a bigger story.” Leo was born with the drums as his first instrument. He grew up in Madison but had the chance to travel quite a lot as a child. He was able to learn from his father and get encouragement from top musicians all over the world. Leo learned some of his best lessons in Madison from Clyde Stubblefield, a legendary drummer who played for James Brown and is often called the “world’s most sampled drummer” due to the break beat he played on Brown’s song “Funky Drummer”. He was a very influential musician for Leo in the 70’s. Clyde’s first album, The Original, was produced by Leo many years later. Leo, a teenager, used to tag along with his dad, who was a tour guide for the Steve Miller Band. Steve encouraged Sidran to learn to play guitar, and even took him to Manny’s Music in New York to purchase an electric guitar. Miller taught Leo “Rock N’Me” and encouraged him to write songs. Leo began writing songs and sent them to Steve. Miller recorded 12 of Leo’s originals when he was 15. Four of his songs were included on Steve’s Wide River album. Many of the songs Leo wrote in his teens ended up on his 1998 solo album, Leo and The Depleting Moral Legacy. Sidran studied history at college and honed his skills in jazz drumming while there. He has recorded and played as a drummer for many jazz legends including Phil Woods (David Fathead Newman), Clark Terry, Frank Morgan), Richie Cole, Bob Malach, Bob Rockwell, Bob Shepard, John Ellis, Phil Upchurch, Steve Kahn, Oscar Castro-Neves, Will Bernard, Howard Levy, Mike Mainieri, Richard Davis, Mike Richmond, Billy Peterson, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Georgie Fame, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Grusin, Grusin, Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin, Georgie Fame and, Ben Sid Leo lived in Seville, Spain for a year during college. This was an important year for Leo, which sparked his interest both in Spanish language and international music. Leo was in Spain performing on the Grammy nominated Concert For Garcia Lorca In Granada with his dad. Leo returned to America in the following year and recorded his first of three bilingual albums, L.Sid. (El Elefante is a bilingual album with children’s songs, which won the Parents Choice Award 2004. Bohemia was next. Leo began to work as an arranger and producer during this time. He was the producer of Clementine, a French singer,’s 1999 Couleur Cafe album and 2004 Soleil albums, both for Sony, Japan. Also, he produced Mark Murphy’s 2001 release, The Latin Porter. Most importantly, Sidran met Joy Dragland, singer/songwriter. They formed a musical partnership called Joy and the Boy that has lasted almost 10 years. They released Paradise in 2002. Then came Soaking Wet, 2007 and Secret Place 2009. Dragland’s 2015 EP Tumble Town was co-produced by him. Sidran spent his college years in Spain, connecting with musicians and producers in Madrid and spending more time there after graduation. His album Bohemia was recorded with Gonzalo Lasheras (Spanish producer). This allowed Sidran to collaborate with many of the Spanish musicians that he had loved as a student. He also had the opportunity to form a friendship with Jorge Drexler and Ana Laan while he was in Spain. Sidran produced Laan’s 2003 album Oregano, which was named one of the best Latin albums of the year by the Chicago Tribune, Village Voice and LA Times. He also produced Chocolate and Roses 2007, which featured the song “Paradise”, which was featured in an iTunes Single Of The Week and in Dove Body Lotion campaigns. Drexler invited Leo as co-producer of the song “Al Otro Lado Del Rio”, after touring South America with Jorge Drexler. Sidran recorded the song primarily in Sidran’s apartment in Wisconsin. It won an Academy Award in 2005. Leo produced Drexler’s song “Nada Es Lo Que Aparenta”, which was featured in the 2007 Spanish film Que Parezca Un Accidente. The song was also included on Drexler’s 2010 album Amar La Trama. Leo also cowrote Data Data for his 2013 Bailar en la cueva record. To release their projects, Leo and his dad formed Nardis Music in 2003. (Nardis, as Sidran is spelled backwards, and the name of a Miles Davis composition. Although the label is mainly online and in Japan, many of Leo’s productions were released on it. Ben Sidran’s Blue Camus, which Leo produced, is the most recent release. After the Oscar success of “Al Otro Lado Del Rio”, Leo moved to New York. Sidran has been composing music for television and film since 2005. He was the director of the Discovery Documentary With All Deliberate Speed in 2004, the Independent Lens documentary Race To Execution in 2006, and the 2008 Sundance Films documentary Burning Ice. Sidran also contributed music to the 2008 IFC film Up With Me, The Harlem Movie Project, and the 2013 IFC release Captive Beauty. He also wrote a song for the remake of the horror classic Carrie in 2013. Sidran has produced hundreds of television commercials across the country and internationally since 2005. These include ads for Baileys, Capital One. Converse, Crayola. Dove. Ford. Garnier. JC Penny. Kohler. Nationwide Insurance. Stella. Sprite. T-Mobile. Texaco. Verizon. VISA. Recent productions include Michael Sackler Berner’s Fragile magic (2015) EP, Alex Cuba’s Healer (2015), Jascha’s The Afterneath (2014), and The Future Limited (2012). Ben Sidran’s Dylan Different (2010), Cien Noches (2010) and Don’t Cry for No Hipster (2013) are some of his recent record productions. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter and dog. http://leosidran.com

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