At age 22, drummer Ryan Leppich has had the privilege and honor of playing or recording projects with the likes of Alex Sipiagin, Randy Brecker, Bob Sheppard, David Liebman, Sheila Jordan, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. His instrumental maturity and personality contradict his young age, and Ryan emanates a high level of confidence, promise, and commitment to the art form he loves.
Ryan's most recent project was the recording Side Two, released on April 18th 2019, with pianist and good friend Spencer Zweifel. The first full-length release from Spencer features original compositions and arrangements in many different styles, and continues in the tradition of the great piano trios from the past.
Ryan also leads his own trio, playing original compositions from members of the group, and arrangements of classic jazz standards. The trio, with Tom Amend on Piano and Seth Lewis on Bass, have strong roots in the jazz tradition, and have enjoyed sharing their music regularly throughout Colorado, as well as their most recent tour through Seattle last year. The Ryan Leppich Trio plans to record their first album later in 2019.
Now attending the University of Northern Colorado, Ryan is finishing his Bachelor’s Degree of Music Performance: Drum Set Jazz Studies. As a part of the world-renowned collegiate jazz ensemble, UNC Jazz Lab Band 1 was most recently named the co-winner of the 2018 Best Large Jazz Ensemble in the Graduate College category for the 41st annual Downbeat Student Music Awards. Ryan was also a part of the co-winner in the same category: The All Angles Orchestra. These are just two of eight awards Ryan has been fortunate enough to receive at UNC. (More info on awards and recognition can be found below.)
As a part of UNC's Jazz Lab Band 1, Ryan performed the world premier of The Romeo and Juliet Project in 2017. This special suite of music was a musical re-imagination of the classic Shakespeare play, commissioned just for UNC under the direction of Dana Landry. In 2018, Lab 1 performed another musical re-imagination, this time of the story of Alice In Wonderland.
At the UNC Greeley Jazz Festival in 2018, Jazz Lab Band 1 performed a tribute to Charlie Parker, where Ryan was able to play alongside vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and pianist Aaron Diehl. The music included classic arrangements of Parker standards, and new arrangements by student writers at UNC.
At the same festival, Lab 1 in conjuncture with the All Angles Orchestra performed an exhilarating tribute to the Brecker Brothers, featuring Bob Sheppard and Randy Brecker. This music can be heard on a very special album that Ryan recorded with the All Angles Orchestra in 2017 called “New Angle.” Featuring a 15-piece hybrid ensemble with strings, woodwinds, brass, rhythm and percussion, the album showcased special guests Alex Sipiagin and Kenyon Brenner.
Having a mentor and role model is something very important to a musician’s development and improvement, and Ryan considers himself very fortunate to have known the legendary drummer Jeff Hamilton for so long. Their relationship began when Ryan was only 15, and has continued strong to this day. From working intimately in a trio setting, to private lessons, and even performing a brush duet with Jeff, Ryan credits a lot of his growth to Mr. Hamilton. Ryan is also grateful to have been able to study privately with drummers like Jim White, Chris Smith, Garey Williams, and Bryan Carter.
From Ryan: “Thank you to everyone who has helped me develop as a musician, and person throughout my life and career. I am grateful to be where I am thanks to you! Here’s to more peace, love and music.”
Awards and Recognition
2019 - Jazz Education Network Conference, Recognized Performer, Reno (UNC Lab Band 1)
2018 - Downbeat Student Music Awards, Best Collegiate Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble, (UNC Vocal Lab)
2018 - Downbeat Student Music Awards, Best Collegiate Large Jazz Ensemble, (The All Angles Orchestra)
2018 - Downbeat Student Music Awards, Best Collegiate Large Jazz Ensemble, (UNC Lab Band 1)
2018 - Jazz Education Network Conference, Recognized Performer, New Orleans (UNC Vanguard Combo)
2018 - Jazz Education Network Conference, Recognized Performer, New Orleans (UNC Vocal Lab)
2017 - Downbeat Student Music Awards, Best Collegiate Large Jazz Ensemble, Grad Level (UNC Lab Band 1)
2017 - Jazz Education Network Conference, Recognized Performer, Dallas (UNC Lab Band 1)
2015 - Louis Armstrong Award, Outstanding Musicianship and Leadership (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2015 - Most Outstanding, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2015 - Letter Award, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2015 - WMEA All-Northwest Honors, Jazz Drum Set
2015 - NAfME All-Northwest Jazz Band
2015 - Newport Jazz Festival, Sweepstakes Award, (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2015 - SKMEA Regional Solo and Ensemble, First Alternate Snare Drum
2014 - Letter Award, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2014 - Music Works Northwest Honor Jazz Band
2014 - Clark College Jazz Festival, Outstanding Jazz Musician
2014 - Swing Central Jazz Festival, 3rd Place (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2013 - Director’s Award, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2013 - Letter Award, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2013 - Music Works Northwest Honor Jazz Band
2012 - Most Improved, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2012 - Letter Award, Jazz Ensemble 1 (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2012 - Essentially Ellington, Outstanding Soloist
2012 - Essentially Ellington, Outstanding Rhythm Section (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2012 - Essentially Ellington, 5th Place (Mountlake Terrace High School)
2011 - Sno-King Music Educators Award, Percussion Trio (Brier Terrace Middle School)