The Squid's Ear Magazine

Leon, David: Aire De Agua (Out Of Your Head Records)

An upbeat and energetic album of modern creative jazz compositions from Cuban-American saxophonist, woodwind player, and composer/improviser David Leon, leading his Aire De Agua with Sonya Belaya on piano, Florian Herzog on bass and Stephen Boegehold on drums, performing Leon's intricate compositions that elucidate each player's voice and great skill.

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David Leon-alto saxophone

Sonya Belaya-piano

Florian Herzog-bass

Stephen Boegehold-drums

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

UPC: 198000840044

Label: Out Of Your Head Records
Catalog ID: OOYH 011
Squidco Product Code: 31227

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Big Orange Sheep in Brooklyn, New York, on February 9th, 2020, by

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"I met David when he was attending the School for Improvisational Music summer workshop. Instantly impressed with his versatility as a composer and improviser, I could see he was eager to relocate to New York and make his mark on the creative music scene. After he moved, I requested to mentor David through The Jazz Gallery's mentorship program during which we performed a series of shows, comprising duo dates as well as a quartet alongside Tom Rainey and Michael Formanek. For the project, he composed pieces that fluidly combine written material and improvisation. It was clear that he was moving towards a personal language through these compositions and refining his expression as a composer and improviser.

Aire De Agua is further evidence of that evolution. Poised for expansion, David gleans conceptual ideas from art forms outside music; at the same time, he allows his work to reflect what he observes and experiences. Selecting a durational performance from artist Marina Abramovic as structural impetus for composing "Bluest Blue," David pays tribute not only to her work but to her influence: "Marina is an inspiration to me, as someone who pushes her mind and body beyond their limits in pursuit of something greater." Choreographer Pina Bausch's works sparked his idea for "Pina," a piece that obscures the ensemble's timbral identities through what he calls "sonic illusion" in which the snare drum's cross stick imitates the saxophone's slap tongue.

Meaningful connections with fellow artists shape David's artistic vision. His compositions become vessels for his bandmates to express themselves, connecting with the music and each other. I find it fitting the title track of his debut record features his fellow artists' performances perhaps more explicitly than his own. In David's words, Aire De Agua attempts to offer "a dynamic where all four voices are closer to equal in weight". To me, this notion-along with the inclusion of a saxophoneless trio piece "A Hug A Day"-reflects his capacity for expressive empathy and, ultimately, artistic growth.

A powerful and rewarding listen, Aire De Agua documents an initial upsweep of what promises to be the long elegant arc of David Leon's career. The creative energy and humanity behind each composition-scripted and spontaneous-kindles an inexhaustible motivation to refine his voice and elevate his craft. "-Kris Davis

Artist Biographies

"David Leon is a Cuban-American saxophonist, woodwinds player, and composer/improviser living in Brooklyn, New York. His diverse musical output is guided by an exploration of nuance: in timbre by creatively manipulating saxophone technique, in pitch by tampering with equal temperament and employing microtonality, and in texture possibility through orchestration and improvisation.

As the winner of the 2017 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer's Award, David debuted a new quartet at the Newport Jazz Festival in August of that year. In November 2018, he performed alongside pianist Kris Davis as part of The Jazz Gallery's Mentoring Series. Most recently, David was selected by New Music USA's 2021 Creator Development Fund to further develop his ensemble Bird's Eye - a new trio with Doyeon Kim on kayageum and Lesley Mok on percussion.

Other solo endeavors include Aire De Agua - a quartet which released it's debut recording in August 2021 on Out Of Your Head Records, the Current Obsession series - which documents improvisations with current collaborators, Trio, and the co-led chamber project Sound Underground. An active sideperson, David has collaborated with artists including Dafnis Prieto, Ingrid Laubrock, Francisco Mela, Kris Davis, Justin Vernon, Brian Lynch, Adam O'Farrill, Cory Smythe, Jim Black, Chris Pitsiokos, Arturo O'Farrill, Tomas Fujiwara, Michael Formanek, Matt Mitchell, Henry Fraser, Kalia Vandever, Michael Attias, Tom Rainey, and others.

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, David discovered a love for music in his uncle's collection of global percussion instruments. After starting formal instruction on piano he found the saxophone by chance, and was accepted into the prestigious New World School of the Arts high school to study jazz. He quickly garnered national recognition from the National YoungArts Foundation, the GRAMMY Foundation, the ASCAP Foundation, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Jazz Band of America. His trio #bicmnrosfulmfrenh was recognized as the Best Small Ensemble by Downbeat Magazine's Student Music Awards in 2016.

David graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, as a member of the cross-genre Henry Mancini Institute. In addition, David is a two-time alumni of the Kennedy Center's Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program and the Banff Centre in Canada. He has been mentored by Terence Blanchard, Kris Davis, Manley "Piri" Lopez, and Ira Sullivan."

-David Leon Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Sonya Belaya: "I am a pianist and a singer bred by the traditions of the Russian school. My roots are planted in these memories-playing piano during overflowing dinners, and singing Soviet bard songs around family campfires. My love of song is audible in my patterns of speech. You'll hear my voice carry in its distinct presence.

I speak through art based in vulnerability and emotional transparency. I find this vulnerability in free improvisation, writing songs, and in creating unapologetic experiences that say, "I feel with you."

My focus as an artist is to use vulnerability and personal emotional inventory for social change. By openly exploring trauma, depression, loss, and grief in a vulnerable way, I create space for others to be comfortable with self-reflection and deep empathy.

Building community and connectivity in this way allows for more personal emotional inventory that leads to a greater understanding of happiness and suffering. Empathy and vulnerability are where we solve social issues, and create a sense of understanding across boundaries."

-Sonya Belaya Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Florian Herzog, (1989) bassist and composer, is a pioneer of the German and international jazz and avant-garde scenes.

After living and working in the Netherlands, Cologne and finally New York, he now writes for projects that are avant-garde jazz, pop or electronic, but also always all of the above. His bass playing has been described by the press as "emancipated, spirited and sensitive."

His collective bands such as Just Another Foundry, Turn, and Trillmann have won multiple awards and released eight albums together. As a leader, Herzog's projects such as Moon Tree and his soon-to-be-released solo album are peppered with international collaborations. He has worked with established greats like Theo Bleckmann, Jim Black and Nils Wogram but also with the new generation and musicians like Anna Webber, Elias Stemeseder and Nick Dunston.

He is also active as a sideman in Germany and the U.S. and has curated the "Monday Meetings" series at Loft Cologne for over four years."

-Florian Herzog Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Stephen Boegehold is a drummer and composer based in New York City. As a bandleader, Stephen has self-released three albums: "A Telling of Death" (2016), "Shared Realities" (2017), and "Way of Dreams" (2017). Equally active as a collaborator, Stephen can be heard on stage and recording with Nick Dunston's Atlantic Extraction, the David Leon Quartet, the Jessica Ackerley Quartet, and the Alex Levine Trio. He has shared the stage at home and abroad with musicians such as Michaël Attias, Kris Davis, Francois Moutin, and Laurence Hobgood. A founding member of the Brooklyn-based, artist-led nonprofit Polyfold Musical Arts Collective, Stephen also works to build musical community through Polyfold's regular workshops and concert series. Find out more about Polyfold at

Drawing upon the musical and social diversity of his New York City home and his upbringing in the Detroit music scene, Stephen aims to examine the junctions of the inner and outer human experience by means of improvisation, composition, and meditation."

-Stephen Boegehold Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Strange and Charmed 04:44

2. Horrible, Horrible Service 04:16

3. Pina 06:13

4. Aire De Agua 06:41

5. First You Must Learn the Grip 04:53

6. A Hug a Day 02:57

7. Expressive Jargon II 07:18

8. Bluest Blue 05:27

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
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