Leon Lee Dorsey
Leon Lee Dorsey was born March 12, 1958 in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, to a family that was plugged in to the Steel City’s
storied jazz lineage. He began studying piano in third grade and
switched to classical cello studies with members of Pittsburgh
Symphony at the famed Center for the Musically Talented (4th -12th
grade), picking up electric bass in the seventh. In high school, Dorsey
would be drawn to the double bass, having always loved the
He attended Oberlin College Conservatory, graduating with double
degrees in 1981. Under the tutelage of bass legend Richard Davis,
he received his first masters at the University of Wisconsin at
Madison and received a second masters upon arriving in New York
from the Manhattan School of Music. He pursued doctoral studies at
the City University of New York under Ron Carter, finishing his
doctorate at Stony Brook University.
In 1986, Dorsey began a two-year stint with the Lionel Hampton
Orchestra (including performances with Frank Sinatra and visits to
the White House) which honed his skills for his next endeavor,
namely as a Jazz Messenger joining Art Blakey's most fabled of
jazz finishing schools, leaving a lasting impact on his future career.
Since arriving in New York he has performed and recorded with jazz
legends Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Hilton Ruiz, Cassandra
Wilson, James Carter, Freddie Hubbard, and the Duke Ellington
Orchestra, Dorsey released his acclaimed debut album, The
Watcher, in 1995. He followed it up with 1999's Song of Songs. In
2003, he founded Leon Lee Dorsey Studios in New York City, at
which more than 100 albums have since been produced.
Dorsey is also prominent as a jazz educator. From 2008 to 2011, he
was Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Director of the Jazz Seminar at
the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, he teaches harmony and jazz
arranging and composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He
looks forward to working with the DSC Band and hopes to be
announcing performance dates soon.
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