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Guitarist Spreads a Love for Jazz

One look at Gene Leone Jr.’s face when he’s playing a guitar lick  and you know he’s passionate about jazz.

“I love jazz because it’s what you make of it,” said Leone, now 20.  “The concept of ‘if it sounds good, it is good’ really appeals to me because it doesn’t provide you with a structure like pop music. Jazz allows me to take whatever I hear in my head and lay it all out through my guitar.”

Leone started on piano at age 4 and has been a musician most of his life, encouraged by his musical parents. But it wasn’t until he joined the jazz band at Hillcrest Middle School in Trumbull that he got into what many would say he does best.

Six years ago, Leone played with a band called the “hip six.” Through gigs and networking with other musicians, he was able to start the Jazz Guild of Fairfield County, which now numbers around 150 jazz artists.  Today they play weddings, private parties, corporate events and jazz festivals like the recent one in Easton Jazz Festival.

Leone, who will be a senior at Salve Regina University in the fall, said he didn’t have to try hard to get people involved. “I didn’t really have to do much. Once people hear jazz, it’s infectious,” he said.

The young guitarist’s success comes from passion, talent and four hours’ practice a day. He said the guild helps young musicians grow. “Kids learn that you can only get out of life what you put into it,” he said.

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