David Leon is a Cuban-American saxophonist, woodwinds player, and composer/improviser living in Brooklyn, New York. An active leader and sideman, he has toured internationally as a core member of the chamber trio Sound Underground, releasing three albums to critical acclaim. His own trio #bicmnrosfulmfrenh was recognized as the Best Small Ensemble by Downbeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards in 2016. As the winner of the 2017 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer’s Award, David debuted a new quartet at the Newport Jazz Festival in August of that year. In November 2018, he performed alongside pianist Kris Davis as part of The Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Series.
His diverse musical output is pervaded by the exploration of nuance: in timbre by creatively manipulating saxophone technique, in pitch by tampering with equal temperament and employing microtonality, and in texture through creative chamber orchestration and improvisation.
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, David discovered a love for music in his uncle's collection of global percussion instruments. After starting formal instruction on piano he found the saxophone by chance, and was accepted into the prestigious New World School of the Arts high school to study jazz. He quickly garnered national recognition from the National YoungArts Foundation, the GRAMMY Foundation, the ASCAP Foundation, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Jazz Band of America.
David graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, as a member of the cross-genre Henry Mancini Institute. In addition, David is a two-time alumni of the Kennedy Center's Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program and the Banff Centre in Canada. He has been mentored by jazz artists Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Kris Davis, and Ira Sullivan.