YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Jazz music enthusiasts take note: There’s a concert Saturday night to pay tribute to Tony Leonardi — the man who started Youngstown State University’s jazz program.
Earlier Friday evening, some of the best jazz musicians who ever graduated from YSU rehearsed for the concert at Bliss Hall.
Tony Leonardi started teaching jazz music in 1969, then directed the jazz program from 1979 until his death in 2001. Leonardi himself played an upright bass — and worked with some great musicians.
“My father was a jazz musician who toured the world with Woody Herman, performed with Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., a bunch of other celebrities, Buddy Rich,” said Paula Leornardi, Tony Leonardi’s daughter. “He ended up in Youngstown, Ohio. He started the jazz program here from a non-existent program. It became one of the top in the country.”
Two bands — totaling 47 musicians — will be playing Saturday night. All were former students of Tony Leonardi.
The alumni reunion tribute concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Ford Theater in Bliss Hall. Tickets cost $25.