Raised by Italian opera lovers, Ardizzone began studying music at age 4 – first piano and voice, then violin at age 8 and oboe in high school. In her twenties, she found jazz.
While music was her deep love, Ardizzone’s curiosity and zest for life took her on a wild and impulse-driven journey of exploration and learning. Ardizzone has always lived her life in “Yes!” and thus rarely backs down from an opportunity for discovery. She became a biologist and then a science educator, eventually getting a doctorate from Columbia University in International Peace Education.
During her studies and subsequent work as a professor and non-profit executive, Leonisa played jazz gigs at New York City clubs including Sweet Rhythm, Iridium, Danny’s, the Duplex, and the Kitano.
The Leonisa Ardizzone Quartet formed in 1997 and released two critically acclaimed CDs, Afraid of the Heights in 2007 and the scent of bitter almonds in 2009. Critics praised the group, saying the quartet “is flexible and can turn on a dime…everyone is obviously having a good time with the music” (George Harris, All About Jazz), and sounds “at home with each other so it’s easy to feel at home with them” (Rob Lester, Talkin’ Broadway).
In 2010, shortly after the release of the quartet’s second album, Ardizzone found herself a solo mom, and her focus was squarely on raising her child. Thanks to her education background, she held various creative day jobs (even starting her own science center) and continued to make music—although not as much as she would have liked— playing gigs with her quartet and curating (as well as leading) a Jazz Vespers series at the 4th Universalist Society on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Her “jazz ministry” helped her hear the call to actual ministry, and she received a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 2017. Now an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, remarried and relocated to the Hudson Valley with a fairly independent teenager, Ardizzone is ready to put jazz back on center stage. After a 10- year recording hiatus, the Leonisa Ardizzone Quartet will release the aptly named all in good time in the June of 2019.
“Perhaps one of the hardest-working women I’ve run across...Ms. Ardizzone once again hits the mark,
surrounded by a great backing group. Ms. Ardizzone’s voice won’t overpower; instead, she stays well within
the envelope, blending seamlessly with the rest of the group. Engaging and endearing - through her choice
of material and her way with a lyric, you’ll feel like you’ve made a new friend. Good stuff. “ - Doug Boynton,
"Leonisa Ardizzone has a sweetly swinging vocal style and is ably backed by a fine Quintet...She is a
seasoned performer who has all the equipment and uses it well." - John Gilbert, Ejazznews