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Renowned Jazz Festival Production Manager Leo Gambacorta Passes Away

Veteran production manager-and occasional road manager for Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Santana, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, and Flora Purim and Airto-died on Nov. 6 at the age of 53.

Born in Newark, N.J. on Aug. 1, 1953, Gambacorta attended Wilkes College in PA and went to graduate school at Brooklyn College. He taught at John Jay College, where he met Gus Fleming, who introduced him to the world of stage production; Leo especially loved theater lighting design. He was the production manager at the Joyce Theater for two years before becoming a freelance production manager.

Eventually, Gambacorta became well-respected for his work with the JVC and Newport Jazz Festivals, leading to coveted stints with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Lincoln Center (he was the first production manager for Jazz @ Lincoln Center) and Carnegie Hall.

Gambacorta possessed a remarkable gift in dealing with nervous artists, using his unique sense of humor to get what was needed. As a mentor to production people, Leo was extremely open to sharing his knowledge, as he understood the importance of perfection in all technical areas and the need to keep both producer and artist happy. Producers, stagehands, artists and managers will sorely miss him.

Originally Published