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.
Jan was also a member of an exciting group of jazz flutists called the NY Jazz Flutet. Fellow flutists Dotti Anita Taylor, Elise Wood, Michele Smith and Chip Shelton were joined by drummer Art Lillard in this unique ensemble featuring a wide array of standards as well as original songs and arrangements by all the members, played on a variety of flutes. This group was featured at the 2006 National Flute Association's annual conference in Pittsburgh.
In May 2002 the Int'l Association for Jazz Education published Jan's article I Can't Give You Anything But Love, an account of her discovery of employment as an entertainer in healthcare facilities, in their Jazz Education Journal. In July 2003 WBGO-FM Newark aired a 6-minute documentary about her work with seniors and the infirm, produced by jazz programmer/journalist John J. Cooper, in their award-winning WBGO Journal. In February 2006 Jan gave her first seminar, "Making a Living in Music Wellness: a Workshop for Professional Performers" at St. Peter's Church, under the auspices of the International Women in Jazz, of which she is a long-standing member. More workshops are anticipated, which would enable other jazz musicians to find employment opportunities in their chosen field of jazz music performance.