Leo Ciesa is a drummer, composer and educator based in New York City. He is perhaps best known for the New York City hardcore jazz duo Iconoclast, which he co-founded with saxophonist Julie Joslyn in 1987, and also for being a longtime member of Nick Didkovsky's 8 piece avant-rock ensemble Doctor Nerve, which he joined 1988. Leo Ciesa also has a solo project with an album called 'Coat of Arms - Music For Solo Drumset', a 50 minute cd with 22 solo pieces.
With Iconoclast and Doctor Nerve Leo Ciesa has made numerous cds and has toured all over the USA, Canada and Europe including performances at many renowned festivals, such as: Moers Jazzfestival and Zappanale Festival in Germany, Sziget Festival in Hungary, Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) in Canada, Festival Musique Innovatrices, Musique Action and Festival Mimi in France, Avant Garde Jazzfestival and Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival in Italy, Festival de la Cite in Switzerland, Audio Art Festival and Festiwal Muzyka z Mozgu in Poland, Ring Ring Festival and Interzone International Festival in Serbia, Pohyb-Zvuk-Prostor Festival in the Czech Republic, ProgDay in USA, Music With a View, The DUMBO Arts Festival and NYU Independent Music Fest in New York City etc..
Both bands have also been featured on various radio and television shows. Ciesa performed regularly at the now legendary NYC clubs "CBGB" and the original "Knitting Factory".
Before moving to New York City in 1986, Ciesa was based in Baltimore, Los Angeles and Sweden. He has played in a very wide variety of musical situations and has also been teaching drums for many years. Composing has always been part of his musical life. Iconoclast has composed and performed the music for both cable television and film.
Leo Ciesa is known for his powerful, melodic, polyrhythmic, emotional and virtuosic drumming that is infused with curiosity and spontaneity. In Iconoclast he also plays keyboards, sometimes simultaneously with the drums. Leo Ciesa modifies and customizes some of his cymbals and hardware to his liking. Expired sticks, drum heads and cymbals become art.
In addition to the solo recording 'Coat of Arms - Music for Solo Drumset' (2012 Soundyard), Leo Ciesa is featured on the Iconoclast recordings 'Dirty Jazz' (2010), 'The Body Never Lies' (2006), 'The Dreadful Dance' (2005), 'Paradise' (2000), 'Blood is Red' (1995), 'The Speed of Desire' (1992), 'City of Temptation' (1990), 'In the Vodka Garden' (2005), 'Sins of New York' (1989).
Leo Ciesa is featured on the following Doctor Nerve recordings: 'The Gift of Shame'(2012), 'The Monkey Farm'(2009), 'Ereia' (2000), 'Every Screaming Ear' (1997), 'Skin' (1995), 'Beta 14 OK' (1991) and 'Did Sprinting Die?' (1990). Leo can also be heard on Larry Polansky's 'Change' (2002) and Micro-East Collective's 'Out of My Face' (2000).
Leo Ciesa is also on compilation recordings such as 'The NYFA Collection: 25 Years of New York New Music' (2010), 'Transforms - The Nerve Events Project' (1993) with Iconoclast, and 'Live at the Knitting Factory, Vol. 3' (1990) with Doctor Nerve.
leo Ciesa has received grants from Meet the Composer and from Arts International: The Fund for U.S. Artist at International Festivals and Exhibitions, and is a recipient of an Artist's Fellowship in Music Composition from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Leo Ciesa has an endorsement with ProMark drumsticks.