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Gina Leishman

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 others.


Musician 2 Musician

Gina Leishman: This New York Life

Read "Gina Leishman: This New York Life" reviewed by Michael Blake

On the late summer afternoon I visited composer Gina Leishman, we couldn't meet in her apartment because it was under repair. A pipe had burst so a friend was loaning her apartment to Gina for a few days; one of those little studio apartments that New Yorkers manage to transform into what seems like a sprawling flat. Nestled on a similarly charming tree lined street, it had the same cozy feel as her old apartment in the West Village, only ...

Album Review

Gina Leishman: In My Skin

Read "In My Skin" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Singer (and multi-instrumentalist) Gina Leishman's music brings to mind Tom Waits. Well that is, except for the voice. She indeed has quite a pretty one. In My Skin is the second to feature her music, songwriting, and vocals. Bed Time (c'estquoi music, 2004) shares some of the same guest musicians: bassist Greg Cohen, guitarist Marc Ribot, and drummer Kenny Wolleson. Here, the violin and guitar chores are taken up by Charlie Burnham and Matt Munisteri.

Like Waits, Leishman ...

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“One of New York’s most versatile composers…” -Time Out

“She is not only a wonderful composer and performer, she is also a rare singer capable of conveying the deepest emotion with utter precision, while never giving in to sentimentality.” – barbesbrooklyn.com

“Ms. Leishman…stole the show when she sang her own “Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic”, which had wry lyrics, piquant dissonances and shifty meters recalling Stravinsky and Kurt Weill” -New York Times

“gifted and idiosyncratic” – San Diego Union Tribune

“Gina Leishman’s bedtime stories aren’t like Mother Goose’s. Instead of singing baby to sleep, she enfolds us grown-ups in a warm nighty-night blanket which smells faintly of spilt cocktails and cigarette smoke. Her voice also curls through the air like the smoke from a cigarette left in an ashtray in some after hours jazz club…” – Stephen Fruitman, Sonomu.net

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


GCQ Records


Baseless Rumors

GCQ Records


In My Skin

GCQ Records


Bed Time

GCQ Records




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