Musician / Producer Leo Sidran has spent his whole life hanging out with rockers, beboppers, writers, producers, historians, radio junkies, and hip characters of every color and stripe.
The son of writer / musician Ben Sidran, he spent his early years on the road, traveling through the US, Europe and Japan with his father and various bands, learning the musical ropes from the likes of The Manhattan Transfer, Booker T, Phil Woods, Eric Clapton, Doctor John, Carla Thomas and many others.
So by the time he got on the Steve Miller Band bus in 1989 (when he was thirteen years old) Leo had been around the track more than once. And after four summers of riding that bus, he was well schooled in the arts of record producing, playing (drums, keyboard and guitar,) crafting pop songs and dealing with the business of music.
His first instrument was the drums, which he learned at age five, taking lessons from the legendary funky-drummer, Clyde Stubblefield (of James Brown fame). At his first lesson, Clyde handed him a pair of sticks, pointed to the center of the snare drum and said, "hit it!" And Leo has been hitting it ever since. In fact, he has now become one of Clyde's musical proteges. In 2003, Leo produced the drummer's first solo record (The Original) and the Funky Drummer was quoted as saying, "Leo is some kind of genius. He's the first one who ever captured me the way I've been all these years."
Leo, himself, began writing and producing songs at the age of 9. His earliest composition, a song called "Pushing and Shoving," eventually showed up seventeen years after he wrote it on the award winning children's album El Elefante (the 2003 Parents Choice Award.) Other of his original compositions have been recorded by international pop and jazz artists, from France's Clementine to Italy's Gege Telesforo. But Leo's song writing really took off during those early years of traveling with his father (who, by the way, co-wrote Miller's hit "Space Cowboy") and the rest of the Miller Band. He spent his summers crossing the country in a luxury bus and learning from the masters: keyboard player Ricky Peterson (of the Dave Sanborn Band and Prince); drummer Gordy Knudtson (the Steve Miller Band), and Steve Miller himself, who bought Leo his first guitar and gave him lessons.
No wonder, then, that very early on Leo became adept at throwing down musical ideas in a recording studio. He remembers, "Recording was always part of the writing process for me. I first recorded my demos on a four-track cassette machine, then on an eight-track, and eventually on ADATs. Because the science of recording for me consisted mostly of running around my attic juggling five instruments and making music out of the whole ordeal, the music was intensely personal. It was never a matter of writing songs for someone else to record, or even for anyone else to listen to except for a few close friends. In that way, I was very fortunate not to have any expectations placed on the music, other than my own."
At age fifteen, four of Leo's songs were recorded by Steve Miller and released on the platinum selling rocker's Wide River album. Rolling Stone magazine singled out Leo's songs saying the young man clearly, "showed a real flair for penning pop tunes," Just as significant, Leo's original keyboard and synth programs were kept on the final record. Not yet out of high school, he was already a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Since those early days, Leo has recorded and played drums with such notable artists as Phil Woods, Frank Morgan, Bob Malach, Richie Cole, Phil Upchurch, Richard Davis, Steve Khan, Mike Maineiri, Dave Grusin, Ricky Peterson, Oscar Castro Neves, Howard Levy and Bob Rockwell. He has performed in various groups in venues the world over: in New York, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Chicago, London, San Francisco, Boston, Rome, and even Hong Kong. In 1998, following his debut appearance at Madrid Jazz Festival, the newspaper El País crowned Leo "the king of the shuffle," and the evidence is clear on Ben Sidran's last four recordings, including the Grammy nominated Concert For García Lorca. and 2004's Nardis Music release Nick's Bump, on which Leo appears.
But it is also his production technique that keeps the phone ringing. As a producer, he has worked with artists as diverse as jazz singer Mark Murphy and the old school funk group The Funkmasters. And along with singer Joy Dragland, he is one half of the emerging Joy and the Boy. In 2003, even the Walt Disney company came to call, signing Leo to provide signature music for new animations.
Perhaps closest to his heart are his solo recordings, which continue to earn a broad underground following. The first, Leo & The Depleting Moral Legacy (1997) received critical acclaim, particularly in Spain (where Leo had been living, and where he regularly performed the songs on the radio), and his reputation spread in Europe when the song "Conversation" (also recorded by Steve Miller) became a radio hit in The Netherlands in 1998. His second solo album L.Sid, (1999) which featured Leo on guitar and vocals, keyboard player Ricky Peterson, bass player Anthony Cox and drummer Gordy Knudtson, was the first of his recordings to share two languages, English and Castillian. It was literally composed with one foot in the United States and the other in Spain, and was a powerful portent of things to come.
In Spain, the press immediately took up the cause of L. Sid. Madrid's major entertainment paper Todas Las Novedades, wrote: "Although he has traveled all over the world, his music is still American, quality pop, clear and transparent, without paying too much attention to fashion." And ABC in Spain called L.Sid "luminous". Elsewhere, the music was said to have "intimations of Jobim", or "the sound and sincerity of a hip young Paul Simon." But perhaps the impact of L. Sid was best summed up by the Internet music site HeShe.com which wrote, "Whatever the language, you can say his style is terrific."
This is 15 tracks of pure romance.