Playing music from her critically acclaimed jazz albums: Shadows & Light, Hejira, Mingus, Miles of Aisles, Court & Spark, and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, the seven-member group features Leslie Ballard (vocals, flute), Steve Zerlin (bass), Roger Post (drums), Christian Martirano (keyboards), Steve Moran (sax, clarinet), Tony DePaolo (guitar) and percussionist Matt Spencer. 

When news broke in 2015 that Joni Mitchell had suffered a debilitating brain aneurysm, it brought her music back into focus, with a renewed appreciation for her stunning natural musical gifts, as well as her tidal wave of creative growth into the realm of jazz. She had been an inspiration and influence for years, especially for any females playing in bands, but now, having learned more about her staunch individualism and determination, she's even more significant. 

In short, we honor her, and remind others of her contributions. Like, "Hey! Joni's song "WOODSTOCK" was the anthem that told a generation of hippies that they were a movement!"

Each of the members of the Joni Mitchell Jazz tribute have a deep respect and love of her music, and the challenges of her sophisticated arrangements. Sharing her brilliance and accomplishments with the audience is a joyful celebration, with introductions and background given for each of the songs.
Bios:
LESLIE BALLARD (vocals, flute) began playing flute and singing professionally at the age of 15, playing with local pop/rock bands. Her voice coaches range from Grammy winner Michael Bolton to Leslie Harrington of the Metropolitan Opera. For nearly 20 years she managed some of New York’s most successful multiroom recording studios, working with renown clients such as Mariah Carey, Cindy Lauper, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Teo Macero, Phil Ramone, Eddie Kramer, Marcus Miller, Paul McCartney. For several seasons, Leslie sang soprano with New York’s Amato Opera, under the direction of the founder of the Opera Workshop at the American Theatre Wing. Exploring vocal styles, she joined the Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir, and Gaelic group the Wexford Trio. Leslie’s most recent project is Joni Mitchell Jazz, a group of outstanding jazz musicians, drawn together by a love of Joni’s music, particularly her collaborations with Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny. This creates a full circle for Leslie, back to one of her earliest musical inspirations – Joni Mitchell. 

Tony DePaolo (guitar), a Hudson Valley guitar legend, has maintained a musical career spanning over three decades. Performing in New York city and the surrounding tri-state area music venues and recording studios. Having shared the stage with such world class musicians as Larry Carlton,Spyro Gyra,Stanley Jordan and Steve Morse,and recording most recently with Lindsey Webster, Phil Perry, and Alex Bugnon, as well as releasing his own CD,”Strato G.”
Tony brings endless energy and excitement to every performance.

CHRISTIAN MARTIRANO (keyboards), is well known in the area, having played with some of the most popular ’80s bands including Voices (Atlantic Recs) and Emily. He holds a Masters Degree in Music, has programmed synthesizers for many international recording artists, and played on countless recording projects. Chris served as musical director and composer for the off-Broadway show Ministry of Progress. He programmed synthesizers and electronic drums for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind; Walmartopia; A Ring of Fire (Barrymore Theater); and All Shook Up based on the music of Elvis Presley. Chris is best known for his work with Kurzweil Music Systems, a leading synthesizer manufacturer, where he directed product development for over 12 years, working with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues and many others. He continues to program synthesizers for most all-electronic keyboard manufacturers with his own company, Designsounds (www.designsounds.com), and performs regularly with diverse groups from Sinatra to Top 40. He is also currently serving as choir director and keyboardist for two Connecticut-based churches. 

STEVE MORAN (Sax, clarinet) has been playing saxophone, clarinet, flute, and piano professionally for over 25 years. After high school Steve joined the Navy and was appointed director and arranger of the U.S. Naval Band in Great Lakes IL in 1985. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport in 1991, with a double major in Music Education and Jazz Studies, Steve began playing in a variety of bands and pit orchestras at venues throughout the tri-state area. He is currently on the faculty at Greens Farms Academy and Fairfield University, and maintains an active private teaching studio, in addition to having done two national tours playing lead tenor with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

ROGER POST (drums) has been playing the drums for a wide variety of musical styles and audiences for 49 years. He has played on Broadway for the original productions of 42nd Street, Cats, Falsettos, and the revivals of Ain't Misbehavin’, and Godspell. In concert, he has played for Chuck Berry, James Taylor, Judy Collins, Bill Conti (theme from Rocky composer), Aaron Caruso, and many others. He also has played with many name jazz artists, including Lew Soloff, Houston Person, Marvin Stamm, Bill Watrous, Bill Crow, Carmen Leggio, and Eddie Bert. Roger currently plays with seven different big bands, as well performs with many local jazz and R&B bands and school musical productions throughout Connecticut, Westchester, and New York City.

MATT SPENCER (percussion) recently graduated Western Connecticut State University with a Jazz Performance degree with a focus on drums. He has been playing drums and percussion for 17 years and performs with a variety of different groups ranging from funk, reggae, hip hop, jazz, and soul genres. 

STEVE ZERLIN (bass) is a versatile bassist, fluent in many styles. He taught at the prestigious Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India for many years. He is accomplished as a jazz musician on both electric and acoustic bass and is well versed in Eastern modalities. He has toured India, Europe, and extensively throughout the US, performing with many top artists including Dennis Chambers, Carl Filipiak, Jack DeJohnette, Paul McCandless, Kenny Loggins, the Coasters, the Drifters, the Platters and the Marvelettes. 
Steve appears on many CDs. His unique style and abilities have won him laurels in international jazz magazines. His own CD, Still Life (available on Amazon and iTunes), features some of Washington DC’s finest musicians. He continues to perform with and compose music for the band Facing East, featuring Carnatic percussionists on ghatam and kanjira.

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