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