Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Starting out as a self-taught drummer, he later attended music school in Sweden after which he had an extensive drum teaching schedule. He also played in an extremely wide variety of musical situations from dance, rock, world, jazz and fusion to symphonic and brass and wind orchestras. While in Sweden he participated in several music courses and jazz clinics including the 1979 Ad Lib Symposium in Stockholm. In 1981 he came to the USA where he attended the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, N.Y. and the Dick Grove School of Music in Studio City, CA. After a couple of years of playing in the Los Angeles area, Ciesa moved to Baltimore where he joined the fertile blues scene with the bands Blue Plate Special and Pocket Rocket.
After having moved to New York City, Ciesa formed the duo Iconoclast in 1987 with Julie Joslyn (Alto saxophone, violin, live electronics, vocals, percussion) and they have been composing, recording and performing together ever since. Iconoclast plays regularly in New York City and also performs frequently throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Ciesa and Joslyn have performed at various festivals, including the Avantgarde Jazz Festival in Imola, Italy; Audio Art Festival in Krakow, Poland, II Festiwal Muzyka z Mozgu in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary, International Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade, Serbia, Interzone 97 International Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia and The Festival of Women Improvisers and NYU Independent Music Fest, in New York City. Iconoclast has been featured on various radio and television programs worldwide. Joslyn and Ciesa composed and performed the title theme music for the cable television series "Labor at the Crossroads," and has been featured on "Welcome to Nocturnia (The Art World)," a cable television series devoted to contemporary music, art and video. The duo composed and performed the music for the documentary film "Savage Acts: Wars, Fairs and Empire" and the innovative website "The Lost Museum" (American Social History Productions, Inc.). Iconoclast's music provides the score for the Italian short film, "Con gli occhi di domani" ("With Tomorrows Eyes", 2007). The duo has collaborated and performed with noted Polish poet Andrzej Dorobek.
In addition to Iconoclast, Ciesa joined the group Doctor Nerve in 1988. This group is lead by composer/guitarist Nick Didkovsky and consists of Leo Ciesa, drums; Nick Didkovsky, guitar; Greg Anderson, bass; Kathleen Supove, piano; Rob Henke, trumpet; Yves Duboin, soprano saxophone; and Michael Lytle, bass clarinet. Former members have included Marc Wagnon, vibes and "Downbeat" award winner Dave Douglas, trumpet. On the suite "Ereia" the group was expanded to include The Sirius String Quartet. Doctor Nerve has toured the USA, Canada and Europe and has performed at a number of music festivals including New Jazz Festival in Moers, Germany, Festival Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville, Canada, Festival Musiques Innovatrices in St. Etienne, France, Mimi Festival in Arles, France, Musique Action Festival in Nancy, France, Festival De la Cite in Lausanne, Switzerland, Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival in Rome, Italy, Dartmouth Festival in Hanover, New Hampshire and NearFest in Trenton, New Jersey.
Iconoclast: Sins of New York (1989), City of Temptation (1990), The Speed of Desire (1992), Transforms: The Nerve Events Project (compilation with two Iconoclast compositions, 1993); Blood is Red (1995), Paradise (1995), In the Vodka Garden (2005), The Dreadful Dance (2005), The Body Never Lies (2006).
Doctor Nerve: Did Sprinting Die (1990), Beta 14 OK (1991), Skin (1995), Every Screaming Ear (1997), Ereia (2000); Compilation: Live at the Knitting Factory 3 (1990), The Last Famous International Gluttons (1998); Micro East Collective: Out of My Face (1999); Larry Polansky: Change (2002)
Interview, Live on Air Performance (2007) Metropolis TV Belgrade, Serbia Interview and Concert Footage (2004) TV St. Petersburg, Russia
Interview and Concert Footage (2002) TVP3 Bydgoszcz, Poland
Interview and Concert Footage (1999) Toya TV Lodz, Poland
Interview (1999) Channel 2 "Art Noc" Public TV, Poland
Interview (1997) "Electroshock" Program Moscow, Russia
Concert Broadcast -- Interzone 97 Festival (1997) TV Novi Sad Novi Sad, Serbia
Interview -- Ring Ring Festival (1997) TV Channel 7 Belgrade, Serbia
Performance (1988) South Carolina TV
Live Performance and Interview (2006) WBAI-FM NYC, NY Interview (2002) Radio Pik Bydgoszcz, Poland
Interview (1999) Radio Lodz Lodz, Poland
Interview Audio Art Festival (1999) Krakow, Poland
Interview (1997) Radio Novi Sad Novi Sad, Poland
Live Performance and Interview (1996) WBAI-FM NYC, NY
Interview (1990) CKLN-FM Toronto, Canada
Concert Live-on-Air (1990) WFMU-FM East Orange, NJ
Interview/Guest DJs (1990) WKCR-FM NYC,NY
Concert Live-on-Air (1989) Radio, Japan
"Be Which Magazine" (2006) USA Magazine Interviews and Articles:
"Music Box" (2003) Russia
"Gosciniec Sztuki (2002) Poland
"Tone Clusters" (2000) USA
"HZ Magazine" (2000) Spain
"Talking Drums" (1997) USA
"Batteur Magazine" (1996) France
"Margen" (1995) Spain
"Drumer Dude" (1995) USA
"The London Free Press" (1992) Canada
"Vox Magazine" (1991) Canada
"Spotlight Magazine" (1990) Canada
"The Gazette" (1990)Canada
He's the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Music Composition (1996), several Meet the Composer grants and a grant from Arts International: The Fund for U.S.Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions.