He seems to have come to Bombay in 1933 with the Jos Ghisleri band to perform at the Taj Mahal Hotel and stayed on after Ghisleri returned to Paris. That year, The Times of India described him as a “first-prize winner of the Conservatoire de Paris”.
In his excellent memoir Trumpet Story, Bill Coleman, who came to Bombay as part of Leon Abbey’s band in the mid-1930s, described Leonardi as a “straight man” who could play what was written, but couldn’t improvise. Coleman adds that Leonardi also played the violin, “which was nice for some of the acts we accompanied”.
Even though Leonardi wasn’t really a jazz musician, when pianist Teddy Weatherford moved to Calcutta in 1941, he seems to have taken Leonard with him. The Frenchman appears on several of the records the African-American musician made in the 1940s.
Still, classical music seems to be what he was best at. In 1948, he was back in Bombay for a concert organised by the Institute of Foreign Languages. He played the violin, accompanied on piano by Theresa Athaide. The Times of India reported that his renditions of pieces by Paganini and Greig “gave much pleasure”.
This track is from the Marco Pacci collection. This track was recorded in 1941 and features a vocalist named Buddy Spencer.