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Canadian Heritage

Leo Sullivan


LEO SULLIVAN (saxophonist, flutist) was born in 1955 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. His family relocated to Hamilton, Ontario where he began playing tenor saxophone while still in high school, turning professional soon after graduation in 1974. He played in the Mohawk College Jazz Band for five years, from its inception in 1973 to 1978.

In 1980, Sullivan toured Western Canada with the Superband big band which also featured John MacLeod, John Johnson, Steve McDade, Darcy Hepner, and arranger Pete Coulman. For four years during the early ‘80s, he played at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto and Octobers in the Yorkville district, moving to Huntsville, Ontario in 1984 to play at the famed Deerhurst Inn.

Sullivan recorded two big band jazz albums with his brother Patrick Sullivan: No Compromise in 1978 and Stairway Down to the Stars, showcasing some of Toronto’s up-and-coming musicians, in 1980. He also recorded his debut solo album, Natural Sax, in 1980.

He joined Grant Smith & The Power in London, Ontario in 1991, playing with that band for a year before assuming the tenor saxophone chair with The Bobby Herriot Orchestra at The Old Mill Inn in Toronto in 1993. After a two-year stint there, Leo Sullivan embarked on a decade of world travel playing on major cruise lines backing up a long list of world-class entertainers from Fyvush Finkel to Rosemary Clooney.

He performed in the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concert Series with the Steve McDade Quintet on November 21, 1994, and led the Leo Sullivan Quartet (with Gary Williamson on piano, Scott Alexander on bass, and Bob McLaren on drums) on October 25, 1997.