Jim Leslie

Jim Leslie

University of Dayton, Blue Wisp Big Band, Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra

Jim Leslie is a Lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Dayton, where he has taught since 1999. Jim fills many positions within the department, allowing him to utilize his abilities and interests in a variety of ways. As Percussion Coordinator, he teaches all applied percussion and drum set lessons, percussion pedagogy classes, Percussion Ensemble, and Winter Drumline. The percussion studio is one of the most active at UD, with its members appearing in numerous concerts and recitals throughout the year. Jim is also the Assistant Director of the Pride of Dayton Marching Band and director of the Flyer Drumline. As Jazz Area Coordinator, he leads the Faculty Jazztet and directs the University Jazz Band.

An active professional musician, Jim is the drummer for the Blue Wisp Big Band; a Cincinnati jazz institution for over 40 years. Jim was chosen for the position by his predecessor, drumming legend John Von Ohlen. The groups recent CD Voyage 2020 is their first recording to feature Jim on drums. Jim is a member of the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, a 17-member ensemble dedicated to performing, preserving, and teaching Jazz as a living art form. He also plays with the Classic Jazz Stompers, specializing in jazz from the 20s and 30s. Jim is also an active freelance performer across the region.

Originally from Warren, Michigan, Jim is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he studied with Robert Hohner. He is a proud artist endorser for Ludwig drums, Musser mallet instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads, Vic Firth drumsticks and mallets, and ProLogix practice pads.

IN 3

  • Most memorable Next-Level Performance

    I know that my playing went up several notches when I started playing with the Blue Wisp Big Band full time. When the legendary John Von Ohlen retired from the band in 2017, he asked me to take over for him. Those were big shoes to fill! Playing great charts with the finest musicians in town continues to push my growth as a musician. Voyage 2020 is the band's first album with me on drums.
  • What Drives Your Creativity?

    I'm inspired by the amazing musicians I get to work with on a regular basis, the other drummers on the scene, and my colleagues and students at UD. I listen to music all the time, so that fuels my creativity. I'm inspired by Billy Higgins' ride beat, too!
  • Why do you choose Vic Firth?

    There are several reasons why I love Vic Firth! They make great product, they are dedicated to music education (just check out the website!), and I love the support they give their artists. It feels like a family!