Max Leake plays piano against a gray background

Max Leake

Adjunct Professor of Jazz Piano
Mary Pappert School of Music
Jazz Piano

Music, Room 319
Phone: 412.396.6080



Max Leake began his musical training at age six. By the time he was 15, he was working with local Pittsburgh bands and backing up national acts in local supper clubs. At the age of 18, Max was traveling around the country with acts such as the "Ink Spots" and the "Marcels". Max spent time playing in show-bands in the Catskill Mountains of New York backing up variety acts, comedians and singers. He also cruised around the Western hemisphere as a house pianist in the showbands on many different Princess Cruises ships.

In 1985, he released his self-produced album "Buns in the Sun" on Visionary Records, a record label started by Max and Mike Hurzon (owner of the "Tracking Station", an independent record promotion company). The album drew widespread airplay nationally and was reviewed favorably by many newspapers and trade publications.

Max has gone on to produce, compose for and record with dozens of other artists including Mesa Blue Moon recording artist "Tim Eyermann and East Coast Offering", Heads Up records artist "Kenny Blake", "Salsamba", "Billy Price" and the "Balcony Big Band" on Corona Records. Max has been recording, composing, arranging and performing for 45 years with some of the best jazz and blues artists in the world including Roger Humphries, Stanley Turrentine, Sean Jones, Rick Margitza, Dwayne Dolphin, Henry Johnson, Rebecca Parris, Billy Price, Joe Negri, Sandy Staley, the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild Orchestra, Tommy Tedesco, David "Fathead" Newman, Don Latarski, Slide Hampton, and the Balcony Big Band, just to name a few. He was voted "Best Jazz Keyboardist" in the "In Pittsburgh" music awards in 1989, 1991 and in 1995.

Max began composing and performing music for websites, videos, planetarium shows and CD-ROMs for various advertising and multimedia production companies with his own home-based music production company. He is currently a multimedia developer for the WISER Institute, which is a medical simulation education facility and actively performs, composes, arranges and produces for live performances, multimedia, and recordings. In the winter of 2016 Max became the musical director for actress/singer Tamara Tunie.

As a Sideman:

Kenny Blake - Love I Know Your Name (1982)

Kenny Blake - Rumor Has It, HeadsUp Records (1991)

Kenny Blake - Interior Design (1992)

Kenny Blake - Since You Asked, HeadsUp Records (1993)

Billy Price - Danger Zone, Corona (1993)

Billy Price - The Soul Collection, Corona (1997)

Al Dowe and Etta Cox - Sunday Jam, Dowdel, (1996)

Salsamba - Latinventions, Clave' (1998)

Balcony Big Band - Seasoned To Taste, Corona (1993)

The Gathering Field - Reliance (1999)

Bill Deasy - Spring Lies Waiting, Onoma (1999)

Last Call at the Balcony, WDUQ Jazz (1998)

Lisa Ferraro - Timeless (2003)

Dwayne Dolphin - 4Robin, AAM records (2004)

Lisa Marranaci - Waiting For Spring (2004) /w Joe Negri

Mike Tomaro and the Three Rivers Jazz Orchestra - Night Owl Suite, Sea Breeze (2004)

Christmas at Duquesne, Vol.I

Salsamba - Brazilia, NorthStar Music (2006)

Sandy Staley - Everything I Love, Corona (2006)

Ken Karsh - Ventana, Alanna Records (2009)

Lisa Ferraro - Live at Fallingwater, PranavaSonic (2009)

Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy, MCGJazz (2010)

Roger Humphries - Keep the Faith (2011)

Kenny Karsh - Conversations, Alanna Records (2012)
Don Aliquo Sr. and Jr. -Fathers and Sons, MCGJazz (2017)

As a Leader:

Buns In The Sun - Visionary Records (1985)

Trios - Corona Music, (2004)

Musical Training and Skills
  • 17 years of private lessons in classical and jazz piano, arranging, theory, and composition
  • Jazz piano
  • Jazz theory
  • Composition
  • Arranging
  • Music production
  • Synthesizer programming and performance
  • Accompaniment of vocalists and instrumentalists
  • Video scoring
  • Conducting/Musical Director