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James Leslie

Lecturer, Percussion; Percussion Area Coordinator, Jazz Area Coordinator

Full-Time Faculty

College of Arts and Sciences: Music


Email: James Leslie
Phone: 937-229-3222
FH 473A


  • B.M.Ed., Central Michigan University


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 group’s recent CD Voyage 2020 is the first to feature Jim on drums. He is also a member of the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, a 17-member ensemble dedicated to performing, preserving and teaching Jazz as a living art form. Loving jazz of all styles, Jim plays with the Classic Jazz Stompers, specializing in jazz from the 20s and 30s and appearing on many national jazz festivals.

As a freelance drummer/percussionist, Jim has performed with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Springfield Symphony and the Middletown Symphony Orchestra. As a pit percussionist, he has performed in numerous shows for the Human Race Theater Company. Jim has appeared with many international artists, such as Michael Feinstein, Debbie Boone, Nicolas Bearde, Boots Randolph, Randy Brecker, Vincent Herring, Bobby Watson, John Faddis, Steve March-Torme, Frank Tiberi, Terell Stafford, Conrad Herwig, Ingrid Jensen, John Fedchock, Don Braden, Jim Snidero, Rich Perry, Bria Skonberg and Rick Margitza.

Originally from Warren, Mich., Jim is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he was a student of the late Robert Hohner. As a member of The Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble, Jim can be heard on Lift Off and The Gamut, both recorded for DMP. The group also premiered David Maslanka's Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion Ensemble at the 1993 MidWest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago.

Jim Leslie enjoys many relationships within the music industry, and is a proud artist endorser for Ludwig drums, Musser mallet instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads, Vic Firth drumsticks and mallets and ProLogix practice pads.

Professional activities

  • Member of The Percussive Arts Society and Jazz Education Network

Courses taught

  • Percussion Lesson
  • Percussion Pedagogy
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Winter Drumline
  • Pride of Dayton Marching Band
  • University Jazz Band


The Blue Wisp Big Band

  • Voyage, 2020, 2022

Central Michigan University Percussion Ensemble

  • The Percussion Music of David Maslanka, 1995

The Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra

  • We Are the CCJO, 2022

The Larry Dickson Jazz Quartet

  • Second Springtime, 2015
  • Summergold Promises, 2016
  • Donora Autumn, 2017
  • Winter Horizons, 2018

Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble

  • Lift Off, 1994
  • The Gamut, 1995

Jack Garrett

  • The Good Life, 2004

Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers

  • Those Sentimental Gentlemen from Dayton, 1998
  • The World Can’t Do Without That Rhythm Man, 2000
  • Rough Winds and Darling Buds, 2003
  • You Asked for It!, 2005
  • Bipolar Jazz, 2007
  • Chasin’ Old Man Blues, 2009
  • Black Beauty (and other beauties), 2013
  • Four Elements, Eight Jazz Men, 2013
  • Dance of Both Your Shoes, 2015

Erik Greiffenhagen Quartet

  • For All We Know, 2009
  • You Go to My Head, 2011

Pamela Mallory

  • Close Enough for Love, 2002
  • True Colors, 2022

Ed Moss’ Society Jazz Orchestra

  • Live at the Blue Wisp, 2003

Trio Pi

  • Eclypso, 2012
  • Straight Up Swingin,’ 2013