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Leo Ferguson

Matthias Lupri

Leo Ferguson, Composer & Drummer

I have been a drummer since I was 15. Born and raised in New York City to a Black jazz saxophonist and a Jewish artist from a family of classical musicians. I studied jazz theory, performance, the history of African-American composers and mallet percussion at Hampshire College and Amherst College under the legendary Yusef Lateef, as well as Margo Simmons and Andrew Jaffe. Although I quickly fell in love with writing music, I started composing largely out of frustration. I felt hemmed in by jazz that was often formulaic or stultifyingly anachronistic and a classical tradition that was incapable of addressing or integrating the experiences of African- Americans (let alone bi-racial Black/Jewish kids).

I want to swing. I want to think and feel. And I want to play music that feels like it belongs in the 21st Century, not in a gauzy past.

My music is at once accessible and cerebral, deeply personal, intuitively resonant and sometimes funny. Sacrificing nothing, it incorporates the compositional rigor, specificity and ambition of contemporary classical composition and the landscape of personal narrative and blues conception mapped by 20th Century Black music. I use the abstraction of music to drill down into highly specific ideas and experiences in my life.

Did I mention it swings?