Saturday, September 19, 2015


Download Phoebe Legere's Ooh La La Coq Tail CD Now! at

Unique and unclassifiable--Phoebe Legere is a true original. And she contains multitudes.

I caught her again, recently, at the jazz club Iridium, which is a base for her in New York. Appearing with some of the same first-rate musicians you'll hear on this album, she went over equally well with the crowd whether offering a jazz standard, an original, a French chanson or a sophisticated Cole Porter show tune. Some nights, she might offer club-goers a blues, Or simply improvise at the piano. When the spirit moves her, she can give forth with an age-old traditional Native American song, too. And whatever Phoebe Legere offers, it feels like it’s her--like it’s an integral, organic part of who she is.

In the years since Legere first emerged in the late 1980's, I got used to the fact that she was likely to turn up anywhere–from “CBS Sunday Morning” and the “Charlie Rose Show” to Penn & Teller’s “Sin City Spectacular”; from “Mondo New York” and “Toxic Avenger” films to “The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie” (which I've watched many times on DVD with some of my younger family members). She wrote and produced a musical, “Hello Mrs.President,” about the first female African-American President; R&B legend LaVern Baker starred in the premiere New York production. She’s composed an opera about the Native American holocaust called “The Queen of New England.” She’s written epic poems. She paints. And she’s made eleven CD’s.

Born into a musical family (on the Fourth of July), she started playing piano when she was just three, composed her first song at age six, began performing professionally at age nine, and sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 16. She has studied with John Lewis (of “Modern Jazz Quartet” fame), Ira Newborn, Morton Subotnick, Rich Shemaria, among others. And when it came time to make this album, she just went in and did it. Some albums nowadays are so thoroughly worked over by engineers and producers-- with so many edits, inserts, pitch corrections, adjustments to note placements, and so on–that they're almost as much the creation of those engineers and producers as of the recording artist; but this the real, unvarnished, unaltered, unedited, unprocessed sound of Phoebe Legere and friends. This really represents what you might hear if you go to see her “live.” Accompanying her on this CD are such leading players of their instruments as jazz stalwarts Warren Vache (cornet), Aaron Weinstein (violin), Warren Odze (drums), and Jon Burr (bass) , along with an indefatigable guitarist who loves working with Legere, whose stage name whimsically seems to change slightly every time I look; when he works with her he is sometimes billed as Elvis Sinatra, other times as Sultan Sinatra or some variant; the most recent time I saw Legere perform “live,” he was billed as Sinbad Sinatra. I don't ask. And finally, rounding out the list of artists contributing to this recording, we have on backup vocals Dae Bennett, one of Tony Bennett’s sons.

--Chip Deffaa, Jazz critic & author