B Y R A Y M O N D B E N S O N
M A N I N T H E M O O N J U N E
Globetrotter Leonardo Pavkovic specializes in hidden musical gems
The most widely traveled, outside-the-box impresario in contemporary progressive music might be Leonardo Pavkovic—founder and head of MoonJune Records, which recently marked its 15th anniversary.
“Leo” carved a niche for MoonJune unearthing worthy talent from far-flung foreign enclaves where uncommon artists shine in relative obscurity. Thanks to the keen ear of this soft-spoken gentle giant, the likes of Indonesian maestros Dewa Budjana, Tohpati and Dwiki Dharmawan, Uruguay’s Beledo and others have earned global acclaim under MoonJune’s banner.
The independent label (which includes a live-performance booking and management wing) started in New York in 2001. An avid music collector since the ‘70s, Pavkovic particularly favors jazz-fusion, avant-garde and indigenous hues of the progressive spectrum. This preference for technically brilliant non-mainstream
artistry is a cornerstone of MoonJune’s identity. Yugoslavian by birth, Pavkovic is fluent in five languages and has visited 80 countries. His formative years were spent in Italy, where he attended the University of Bari Aldo Moro. During the ‘80s he resided briefly in Angola and Sao Yome & Príncipe, two Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa. Leo published two volumes of poetry there (in Italian), translating numerous artistic, literary, and scientific works to and from Italian, Serbo-Croatian and Portuguese.
In the early ‘90s he relocated to New York City. There, he worked for legendary graphic design and advertising firm Studio T, advancing to partner and vice president. During his time with Studio T Pavkovic recruited clients in the music industry, specializing in local show promotion for indie jazz labels. This taught him the intricacies of live-event management.