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Janel Leppin


"An Absolute Virtuoso" - Downbeat Magazine

"Her music is stunning." Washington City Paper

"Akin to a fairy-tale forest encased in glass." - Philadelphia City Paper

"Leppin is a rarity..ahhh-vant garde at its finest." - Capital Bop

 

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Janel Leppin


"An Absolute Virtuoso" - Downbeat Magazine

"Her music is stunning." Washington City Paper

"Akin to a fairy-tale forest encased in glass." - Philadelphia City Paper

"Leppin is a rarity..ahhh-vant garde at its finest." - Capital Bop

 

photo by Shervin Lainez

Avant-garde vocalist and cellist Janel Leppin crosses genre boundaries in her first solo recording, Mellow Diamond.  Adapting her sound with electronics, Leppin winds through a variety of territories, showing where she has been in her extensive musical training as well as where she is going. The recording brings out her versatile interests in which she composes for analog equipment, alongside acoustic and electric instruments, to create soundscapes interwoven with jagged contemporary jaunts and turntable collage, dream-pop vocal works, Persian classical glimpses, and psychedelic reveries.

 

Studio Images

See Janel's images working live in the studio at The Brink and at AVAST! in the STUDIO IMAGES section.

Janel Leppin

An in depth biography can be found below.

 

Mellow Diamond

A taste of a piece of Janel Leppin's new solo album Mellow Diamond.

Live


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Live


Rod Hamilton, Janel Leppin, Anthony Pirog = Janel Leppin's Mellow Diamond

Rod Hamilton, Janel Leppin, Anthony Pirog = Janel Leppin's Mellow Diamond

Mellow Diamond Live

Mellow Diamond Live

Mellow Diamond Live playing a Korg Poly Ensemble for piece Stacks of Wood

Mellow Diamond Live playing a Korg Poly Ensemble for piece Stacks of Wood

Mellow Diamond Live vintage mustang baby

Mellow Diamond Live vintage mustang baby

Mellow Diamond Live singing Belly of the Beast

Mellow Diamond Live singing Belly of the Beast

Mellow Diamond Live playing Namesake

Mellow Diamond Live playing Namesake

Mellow Diamond

SHOWS 2014


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SHOWS 2014


March 15  Philadelphia JOHNNY BRENDA'S playing with Marissa Nadler

March 16 Baltimore METRO GALLERY playing with Marissa Nadler

March 18 Washington D.C.  UNION ARTS with Double Date

March 19 Brooklyn BABY'S ALRIGHT Bella Union Showcase playing with Marissa Nadler

March 20 Boston RED STAR UNION playing with Marissa Nadler

March 30 Arlington, VA IOTA Janel Leppin's Mellow Diamond

April 17 Ghent, Belgium VOORUIT playing with Marissa Nadler

April 18 Amsterdam, Netherlands PARADISO playing with Marissa Nadler

April 20 Bristol, UK CUBE CINEMA  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 21 Halifax, UK SQUARE CHAPEL  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 22 Brighton, UK KOMEDIA BRIGHTON  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 23 London CAFE OTO  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 24 Paris POINT EPHEMERE  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 25 Utrecht, Netherlands TIVOLI  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 26 Brussels BOTANIQUE  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 27 Hamburg AALHAUS  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 28 Berlin VOLKSBUHNE  playing with Marissa Nadler

April 29 Prague KLUB PILOT  playing with Marissa Nadler

May 2 Le Chaux des Fonds Entre 2 with Janel and Anthony

May 3 Lyon KRASPEK with Janel and Anthony

May 4 Milan LA CASA DI ALEX with Janel and Anthony

May 6 Nice LE ZONME with Janel and Anthony

May 7 Perpignan L'ANTHROPO ASSO with Janel and Anthony

May 8 Toulouse AMANITA MUSCARIA with Janel and Anthony

May 9 Chateldon LE FESTIVAL RURAL DE CHATELDON with Janel and Anthony

May 10 Gandris LIBRARIE COMPAGNON with Janel and Anthony

May 13 Paris TBA with Janel and Anthony

May 16 Rekjavik MENGI with Janel and Anthony

May 17 Rekjavik MENGI with Janel and Anthony

May 29 Washington D.C. TWINS JAZZ with Janel Leppin's Ensemble Volcanic Ash

May 30 Washington D.C. TWINS JAZZ with Janel Leppin's Ensemble Volcanic Ash

May 31 Washington D.C.  TWINS JAZZ with Janel Leppin's Ensemble Volcanic Ash

August 29 Salisbury, UK THE END OF THE ROAD FESTIVAL  playing with Marissa Nadler

Sept 2 London DINGWALLS  playing with Marissa Nadler

 

 

 

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Live at Issue Project Room


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Live at Issue Project Room


Janel Leppin

Arranger, Curator

Cellist and composer Janel Leppin arranged works by Susan Alcorn while working and studying in Seattle, WA. She wanted to include instruments that would blend together to emulate the thick, resonant sound of the pedal steel guitar.  Leppin wanted to bring together musicians who love Susan Alcorn's music and who both read and improvise music at masterful levels.  The ensemble was absolutely a dream group and truly showed the mastery of Susan Alcorn as a composer.

Susan Alcorn

Composer, Pedal-Steelist

Legendary pedal steel player Susan Alcorn was given a residency at Issue Project Room.  She invited Janel to arrange her pieces and curate a set for the residency. On May 30th and 31st  2012 Susan performed her arrangements of Astor Piazzolla's music, C & W songs, as well as a thrilling and masterful solo performance for the final set, she told said that she wanted to sit back and listen to her own music from the audience.

Fully Altered Media

Publicity

Matt Merewitz and Stephen Buono are spearheading The Music of Susan Alcorn - Live at Issue Project Room. Matt was in attendance at the live presentation on May 31st 2012 and cited the night as his favorite performance of 2012.  Fully Altered approached Janel to discuss the possibility of creating a live album out of this material.

Left to Right: Anthony Pirog, Janel Leppin, Doug Weisselman, Eyvind Kang, Jessika Kenney, Skuli Sverrison at Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY. photo by Dan Sharnoff

Left to Right: Jessika Kenney, Eyvind Kang, Doug Weisselman, Janel Leppin playing live at Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY. photo by Dan Sharnoff

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Biography


Janel Leppin is predominantly a cellist and has honed her skills as a composer and professional musician in multiple genres over the years.  Below is an in depth biography of her education and professional career.

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Biography


Janel Leppin is predominantly a cellist and has honed her skills as a composer and professional musician in multiple genres over the years.  Below is an in depth biography of her education and professional career.

 Cellist Janel Leppin has developed her playing to be captivating and unique while cultivating herself into a truly innovative artist. Through her intense devotion to craft, Janel fuses high levels of technicality with unbridled creativity, moving beyond the conventions of her instrument to create music which exists in unchartered sonic territory.

Born and raised in Vienna, Virgina, Janel spent over two decades studying and performing classical repertoire on the cello and studying voice privately. Her abilities and proximity to Washington D.C. allowed Janel the opportunity to study with members of the National Symphony Orchestra throughout high school and college. Working with such notable musicians as Loran Stephenson (NSO) and Diana Fish (The National Gallery Orchestra and The White House Quartet), Janel honed her skills to become Assistant Principal of the American Youth Philharmonic, where she played among the most talented players in the Washington Metropolitan area. Eventually, Janel's drive to continue expanding her musical horizons and disillusionment with the culture of classical music lead her to pursue other means of developing her voice.

Her ambition led Janel to George Mason University in Fairfax, VA where she majored in Cello Performance and double minored in World Music and Dance. Her study of World Music was integral to her development as it gave her a broader understanding of eclectic instruments and music cultures, most notably Persian and North Indian Classical Music. Janel was invited to study with Saskia Rao-de Haas, a world-renowned cellist and rare string player of North Indian Classical Music. Rao-de Haas's impressive Indian Classical pedigree includes the likes of Hariprasad Chaurasia, Annapurna Devi and Baba Allaudin Khan, whose main disciple was renowned sitarist Ravi Shankar. Leppin studied Hindustani Classical Music for years, eventually traveling to India where, in Delhi, she studied with Rao-de Haas, refining her abilities and absorbing the rich and spiritual culture of the region.

Back in Northern Virginia where a large and vibrant Persian community flourishes, Janel was hired to perform with a Persian Classical Music Orchestra, studying the tradition in months of intensive preparations for each performance. To gain a deeper understanding of this approach, Janel studied with world renowned Ney player Dr. Hossein Omoumi. Today, she continues to work and collaborate with Dr. Nader Majd, the celebrated composer and tar player who runs the School for Persian Classical Studies in Vienna, Virginia. These relationships have lead to many of Janel's recordings and performances of Persian Classical Music. Through her unique course of study, Janel emerged as one of the few cello players in the world who plays Persian Classical Music and Indian Classic Music.

Having developed her ear through experiences and study of World Music and European/ American Classical Music gives Janel a unique approach to improvisation. While many musicians approach improvisation from a jazz influence, Janel brings a more eclectic temperament, which results in a deeply original harmonic sense. Her many years of intense study of her instrument result in Janel's playing being marked by clear and precise phrasing as she effortlessly incorporates her tastes and experiences into her music. By combining her understanding of all types of classical vocabulary with her affinity for many other types of music, Janel developed a unique and captivating approach to improvisation.

In 2002 this interest in improvisation deepened when Janel began working with her creative collaborator, guitarist Anthony Pirog. Leppin became more serious about her study of the overt traditions of improvised music, incorporating elements from jazz, free improvisation and bebop. Through her continued study of various traditions, Janel was able to organically develop her sound and that is clearly seen in the collaboration between their duo. Janel and Anthony, has released two albums, which have sold thousands of copies. Most recently, the critically acclaimed Where is Home was released on Cuneiform Records.
 

Janel's diverse interests and virtuosic ability have caught the attention of dozens of celebrated artists who have enjoyed working with Janel as a musician and innovator. Some of these collaborators include Kyp Malone, the songwriter/ singer/ guitarist for TV on the Radio and Rain Machine; Susan Alcorn, the legendary pedal steel player and composer; Eyvind Kang, the string player and composer; Oren Ambarchi, the guitarist and electronic composer; Skuli Sverrison, the bassist and composer; Gino Robair, the percussionist and electronic musician; and Andrea Parkins, the accordionist and composer. Janel has recorded and performed with some of the most highly respected musicians in the world, appearing on albums for Touch, Sub Pop, Cuneiform, Tzadik and Editions Mego Ideologic Organ and many others. Additionally, Janel is an active participant in New Music ensembles and other groups in Washington D.C. and beyond.

Janel has been leader of ensembles in Washington D.C. starting with a large ensemble of nine jazz musicians called The Janel Leppin Group. In the Fall of 2013, a more refined version of this group called Ensemble Volcanic Ash which includes such diverse instruments as harp, bassoon, cello, saxophone and vocals. Ensemble Volcanic Ash made its debut at the Washington Women in Jazz Festival at a sold out concert at the epic jazz center, Bohemian Caverns. Ensemble Volcanic Ash also headlined at the 2013 Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music and is doing a residency at the famed Twins Jazz in May 2014.

Performing at experimental music festivals is nothing new for Janel. Leppin has performed in every Sonic Circuits Festival since 2006. She was the first Washington D.C. musician to be invited to the highly regarded High Zero Festival, an experimental music festival in Baltimore. She has also performed in notable festivals in Europe. In the Fall of 2014, Janel will join Marissa Nadler in her group performing works from her acclaimed album July at The End of the Road Festival. Between her collaborative work as part of ensembles and her performances with Janel and Anthony, Leppin's schedule remains extremely busy.

Janel's musical artistry goes beyond simply performing. She was called to work as curator for the Issue Project Room in 2012 as part of Susan Alcorn's residency. Leppin lead a group of world class musicians she chose who met for rehearsals of her arrangements of Alcorn's music. This experience culminated with a concert at the Issue Project Room on May 31, 2012. In 2013, The Sonic Circuits Festival also used Janel as a curator for San Francisco based composer Gino Robair's improvised opera I, Norton, which was performed at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage as part of the Festival. She also joined Eyvind Kang and his ensembles for his residency at The Stone in New York City during July of 2013.

Additionally, Janel has been hard at work recording an album of Classical Music, playing works by Villa-Lobos with soprano Meghan Whittier. Her group, Ensemble Volcanic Ash, has begun work on an album featuring her original compositions and a third album from the cello and electric guitar duo Janel and Anthony is underway. Janel is also recording an album of turntablism, exploring her work in the realm of Musique Concrete, which has been a hallmark of many of her solo performances.

Amidst all this collaboration, Janel still makes time for her solo work. For many years she has performed solo projects, often utilizing several instruments, record players and dozens of effects pedals to shape the sound she's after. Soon she will release her first solo album, Mellow Diamond, which is a departure from Leppin's previous work. The album incorporates her technical proficiency across a wide range of instruments, myriad stylistic influences and her voice to create a sound indicative of all Janel Leppin has experienced. Completely written, arranged, performed and produced by Leppin, Mellow Diamond represents the next steps in Janel's continued development as a truly innovative artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biography and Press Photos

 

DISCOGRAPHY


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DISCOGRAPHY


In the Works -
Janel Leppin, Mellow Diamond
Janel and Anthony's Third Album
Aykut Ozen, solo album produced by Chris Cheveyo

Discography
Rose Windows, Sun Dogs
Sub Pop 2013

Janel and Anthony, Where is Home
Cuneiform Records, 2012

Janel and Anthony Fifth Anniversary Vinyl Re-release
Cricket Cemetary, 2012

Eyvind Kang Grass
Gringsing Janel Leppin, Timbe Harris and Eyvind Kang
Tzadik Records, 2012

Oren Ambarchi, Audience of One
Touch Records, 2011

Eyvind Kang, Visible Breathe
Thick Tarragon Janel Leppin and Susan Alcorn
Editions Mego Ideologic Organ, 2011

Great Civilizations
Dangerbird Records, 2011

District of Noise Compilation Volume 5
Janel's offering:
Suite of Silence: Smear, Control, Censor
dedicated to Julian Assange, 2012

Wanted Man
Merrifield Records, 2011

Aaron Thompson, Vessel
self released, 2011

Bluebrain, Soft Power
Self-Released, 2010

Anthony Pirog Sextet
Sonic Mass Records, 2010

The Danville's
Merrifield Records, 2010

Ignorant American
Sonic Mass Records, 2010

"Flyover Iceland" Ignorant American, Merrifield Records Compilation
Merrifield Records, 2009

Owls and Bulldozers
Joe, Janel and Anthony, trumpet, cello and guitar
self-released, 2009

Aaron Thompson
Sockets Records, Winter 2009
Janel and Anthony track, District of  Noise Compilation
Zeromoon Records, 2009

Janel Anthony and Violet - cello, guitar and electronics
Zeromoon, 2008

A Duo with Janel Leppin and Layne Garrett, Together/Apart
Sockets Records, 2008

Janel and Anthony track, District of Noise Compilation
Zeromoon Records, 2008

Dawn Dineen, The Ghostly Apple Tree
Yarner Records, 2007