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Artists in the Dark

Saxophonist Leah Concialdi Rocks Both Sides of the Industry Coin

A saxophonist for Harry Styles and an in-demand PR exec? Here’s how she does it
(Credit: Kylie Fitts)

Seriously…how does Leah Concialdi do it? She prides herself on strategically—intentionally— building her career. “I pride myself in making calculated decisions every step of the way and continuing to leverage my network to build and help others.”

As a saxophonist, she’s played with such artists as Harry Styles, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80. Currently, she’s Director of PR & Marketing for the record label Color Red and the not-for-profit membership-based music venue Knew Conscious. She’s run successful past campaigns for the likes of The New Mastersounds, Yellowjackets, Joey Alexander, Alex Acuna (of Weather Report), and Angel City Jazz Festival.

As the Colorado native explains, she cut her teeth in both the performing and industry side of things during her 10 years in the Denver-based afro-beat band ATOMGA.

In grade school — long before she majored in music education and saxophone performance at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado — she dreamed of stardom in music (and hockey). “My two main goals were to be one of the first women goalies in the NHL and to be one of the greatest saxophone players in history,” she says, adding, “big Capricorn energy, even as a child, ha ha!”

Read on to hear more about Leah.

(Credit: Kyle Cooper)

What or who inspired you to pursue a life in music?

Steely Dan taught me what a saxophone was (listening to “Deacon Blues” when I was four or five). The song that made me want to actually play saxophone was “Sambandrea Swing” composed and arranged by saxophonist Don Menza.

Who is your hero?

Shabaka Hutchings. He’s my favorite living saxophonist.

We’d love to hear a story that exemplifies what life is like on the road for a touring musician or what it’s like being a session musician?

My old electro-funk band TNERTLE was playing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and that same night, one of the bands on our Color Red roster had a show in New Orleans. For some reason, a high-profile writer who I confirmed on the venue guest list was not on the list when he arrived and both him and people at the box office were blowing me up. Luckily, we were kind of in an extended jam section, so I ran off stage to deal with the fire drill and came back on after a couple of minutes.

And one more note for both musicians and the general public: Make sure your gear is insured and go as far as putting AirTags into your instruments, luggage, and valuables. I experienced theft TWICE last year and have heard about more fellow musicians than ever getting robbed these past few months.

What are the top three things that you can’t perform without?

Water, ChapStick, and having some kind of opportunity to decompress and clear my head, be it being able to warm up comfortably, a meal by myself beforehand, or just a little quiet time to charge my batteries.

Where does your energy come from?

Being that both my “day job” and “night job” are in music, I find it very important to take stock and find energy outside of the industry. Over the past year, I’ve rededicated myself to my health and find a lot of enjoyment in fitness. I also try to be as in tune as possible with monitoring the “input vs. output” in my life.


(Credit: Jim Mimna)

Any writing/producing credits that make you feel especially proud?

Some of the music I’m the most proud of comes from music written for my former afrobeat project, ATOMGA.

Musicians you’d like to collab with?

Kendrick Lamar and Björk.

Do you still jam?

Of course! Being in LA, there are a lot of local jams where horn players can pop in and out, and my mind is open for anyone who invites me to hang/jam/collaborate, even if there’s no specific recording or performance goal in mind.

Any advice for young musicians?

My current state of the union is this: You can do it all, but you don’t have to do it all at once.

I think most musicians, regardless of how seasoned they are, understand that it’s important to have several revenue streams in order to sustain a living.

In closing, make sure you’re creative in terms of having multiple avenues to showcase your talents and maintain sources of income, but don’t overdo it or feel any pressure to compare yourself to others or do EVERYTHING at once. And again, remember that careers and day-to-day life in music are nonlinear. This is something I still tell myself every day and continue to work on.

How can we hear/see your work?

You can search my name on YouTube or any DSP to check out my past projects, a few sit-ins, and some studio features I’ve done. I’m going to start taking some DJ/production lessons in the next month so I can start exploring some tech to help the composition process and get better at DJ-ing to potentially perform.

Follow Leah on  Instagram & Facebook.