Composer and multi-instrumentalist Gina Leishman was born in England, studied music at the Vienna Conservatory and Edinburgh University (B.Mus.Hons.), and made her home in the U.S., first on the west coast and since the early ‘90s in New York City. She has written for theater, opera, dance, film, TV and the concert stage.
She is co-founder of the septet Kamikaze Ground Crew. Together for over 30 years, their recordings, on New World, Koch Jazz and Busmeat Records, include Postcards from the Highwire (2007), Covers (2000), Madam Marie’s Temple of Knowledge (1993) and The Scenic Route (1990). Performances include San Francisco Jazz Festival, Earshot Jazz Festival (Seattle), Frankfurt Jazz Festival and Donaueschingen New Music Festival (Germany), Vossa Jazz Festival (Norway), Merkin Hall and Joe’s Pub (New York), as well as occasional gigs in and around downtown New York and Brooklyn.
She also co-leads the Mr. Wau-Wa band, a quintet dedicated to the songs of Bertolt Brecht, for which she is the chief arranger and lead singer. Her work as a singer/songwriter includes Geography (2018), Baseless Rumors (2011), In My Skin (2007) and Bed Time (2004), all explorations of the Leishman Songbook.
She performs and records with infrequent regularity as a solo artist, and in various and sundry downtown projects, including as guest vocalist with Steven Bernstein’s Millenial Territory Orchestra and guest instrumentalist with Peter Apfelbaum’s Hieroglyphics Ensemble. Her instruments include piano, alto and baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, accordion, harmonium, baritone ukulele, mandola and the glass tiers. Her regular collaborators include Doug Wieselman, Steven Bernstein, Peter Apfelbaum, Art Baron, Marcus Rojas, Kenny Wollesen, Rinde Eckcert, Charlie Burnham, Matt Munisteri, Dana Lyn, Marika Hughes, and Greg Cohen. Other musicians with who she has had the pleasure of playing with include Marc Ribot, Jenny Scheinman, Joy Askew, Rob Burger, Miguel Frasconi, Beth Custer, Frank London, Ben Perowsky, Briggan Krauss, Trevor Dunn, Roberto Rodriguez and many others.
Composer-in-residence at the Akrai Residency Program in Sicily, in 2018 and 2014, and
Centre d’Art i Natur, Farrera, Spain, 2018; also at Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga CA, in
2009 and 2010; and Artist in Residence at Colgate University in 2012. Recipient of
grants from the NEA, Meet The Composer, Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Fund, Rockefeller
Foundation, Arts International, Chamber Music America, Doris Duke Foundation, American
Music Center, Duffy Institute for new Opera and the California Arts Council, amongst