A born-and-raised New Yorker, Jan Leder decided to pursue her love for improvisation after twelve years of studying classical music. She studied for three years with the late pianist Lennie Tristano and then continued her jazz studies with pianist Connie Crothers for over ten years. A self-styled course of study in jazz history at SUNY Purchase led to her compilation of the first comprehensive history of women in jazz entitled Women in Jazz: A Discography of Instrumentalists 1913-1968 (Greenwood Press 1985). Ms. Leder has enjoyed teaching jazz improvisation, although teaching has not figured prominently in her career.
In 1999 Jan recorded Nonchalant (A-Records 2000), a collection of mostly original melodies. The title tune was aired on CBS' Guiding Light in December 1999. In February 1997 Monad Records released her first CD, Passage To Freedom, which was recorded live at the Five Spot in New York City in the early 1990s.
Ms. Leder leads her own jazz ensembles in the New York City area, appearing at nightclubs, festivals, cultural functions and other public and private engagements. Her repertoire includes standard bebop, swing, blues and bossa novas as well as her own unique jazz compositions and those of her musical colleagues, including drummer/big band leader Art Lillard, with whom Jan collaborated on numerous compositions, mostly writing lyrics to his catchy songs. From 1987 to 2012 Jan was been a member of Art Lillard's Heavenly Band, which includes a flute section. Two of their songs, Incognito and Conclusion Jump, appear on Art's CD Reasons to Be Thankful (Summit Records 2006), which was also met with excellent reviews.