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Meet the CJO: Theresa Lesh - Cleveland Jazz Orchestra

When she walks down the street, she leaves notes.

Jimmy Rowles

This week, we’re learning about our Managing Director, and the voice behind our newsletters and social media, Theresa Lesh.

Q&A with Theresa Lesh

How long have you been with the CJO?
Just about 2 years.

What is your favorite thing about the CJO?
I love how we’re bringing this art form to the region – to jazz aficionados as well as novices. I also love the jazz education I’ve been getting since joining this organization – diving deeper into the history and finding new favorites!

What has been your favorite concert with the CJO?
I had so much fun at our Mardi Gras concert last year, which was also my first trip to BLU Jazz+ in Akron, which is a great venue.

What was your introduction to jazz?
I love the movie When Harry Met Sally and fell in love with the soundtrack, which was all Harry Connick Jr. I also love Peanuts and grew up with Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” which led me to his Charlie Brown Christmas album and Joe Cool’s Blues, an album by Ellis Marsalis Jr. and Wynton Marsalis. Since then, my exposure and awareness has just continued to grow and evolve.

What is your favorite jazz album?
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, but in this role, I’m discovering new artists and songs all the time, which is amazing.

Which jazz musician would you most like to have a beer with, and why? 
Ella Fitzgerald – I agree with Billy Strayhorn’s sentiment that she was “the boss lady.”

Why did you choose the instrument that you play?
I studied the piano as a child, through high school. I wasn’t amazing at it, but I did enjoy it, and found it a useful skill to help practice singing. I’d like to get back to it again someday soon.

Why do you think jazz should be taught in schools? 
Playing is such a great opportunity to learn how to really listen to your peers and improvise. From a cultural perspective, it’s critical to both music history and American history, and you can trace its evolution over time and the inspiration artists have found in it.