Violist and violinist Leslie DeShazor has graced the Detroit Jazz Festival stage many times – with the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra for grand closing concerts and as a member of the string quartet accompanying pianist Xavier Davis for his 2018 Rise Up Detroit CD celebration. Leslie’s leadership appearance at the 2022 Detroit Jazz Festival is a triumphant celebration of her amazing experiences, strength, resilience, persistence and individualism as reflected in her debut CD, Journey With Me. With funds from a 2021 Sphinx Organization MPower Grant, Leslie went into the studio as a leader to record her debut CD, Journey With Me. However, this was not her first foray in recording – she has recorded three CDs with the women-led ensemble Musique Noire and has been in studio with Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson. For the Detroit Jazz Festival celebration, Leslie will fascinate and enchant on electric 5-string violin and viola while bandmates Demetrius Nabors (keyboards), Sasha Kashperko (guitar), Damon Warmack (bass) and Nate Winn (drums) join in the tuneful journey. Journey With Me recalls 1970s and 1980s albums by Noel Pointer and Jean-Luc Ponty but pulses and grooves with 2022 urgency and sophistication. It is a showcase for Leslie DeShazor’s compositional craft, brilliant classically-taught technique and her understanding of our modern life. The songs on Journey With Me translate beautifully to a live show. “Cruisin” feels like a delicate dance echoing a blithe spring day or Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love”. Leslie’s pizzicato is an elegant contrast to Sasha Kashperko’s flowing guitar. Prepare to be wowed with Leslie’s bow technique and swift changes on the title tune. Prepare also to be wowed by Ms. DeShazor’s stage presence. Her life as a mother, mentor and teacher have shaped her into a gifted communicator at home on stage taking the music straight to your heart. The ballad “Acceptance” sings through Leslie’s acoustic viola and sensitive heart for a moment of affection. “Simply Complicated” is indeed complex, yet Leslie’s ace team negotiates her complicated changes that reflect our modern times. These original pieces and the ensemble’s precision place Leslie DeShazor in the pantheon of modern improvised string players and composers. Leslie describes the music: “I can say that it’s definitely not traditional, but more groove-oriented with an accessible vibe”.
2021 MPower Grant Recipient and 2021 TedX speaker Leslie DeShazor was named one of thirty Professional Movers and Shakers in the Performing Arts by Musical America in 2019. Violist, violinist, composer and arranger Leslie DeShazor is in demand as a soloist, teacher and recording artist. Though classically trained, Mrs. DeShazor is a talented and diverse musician. As a soloist, she has performed with the Toledo Symphony. She is a freelance artists who performs and has performed with The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, Michigan Sinfonietta, CutTime Simfonica, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Gateways Orchestra, Flint Symphony, The River Raisin Ragtime Revue and Ann Arbor Symphony as well as jazz ensembles, Leigh Daniels Ensemble the Detroit-based, Musique Noire and Straight Ahead. She has performed and recorded with international, Grammy award winning R&B stars, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Aretha Franklin and Grammy award winning gospel artists Fred Hammond, Michael W. Smith and Donnie McClurkin. She has also had the pleasure of performing with jazz greats such as Roy Hargrove, Steve Wilson, Pat Metheny, Sheila Jordan, Diane Schuur, Regina Carter, Xavier Davis and Marcus Belgrave. She has recently expanded her versatility musically playing both viola and violin as a part of award winning hit musicals Hamilton and Hello Dolly. An experienced instructor, she currently teaches students of Detroit with instructional music programs offered through the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Sphinx Organization and her own private studio.. A native of Michigan, Mrs. DeShazor holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.