Jeanne Lee


Jeanne Lee (January 29, 1939 – October 25, 2000) was a jazz singer. Born in New York, New York, she was one of the foremost exponents of free jazz in the vocal application. Her singing style included moods that were sensual, somber, and sensitive. She sang in styles that included standard lyrics as well as free-form scat singing. Writers have described her style as being influenced by Peruvian singer, Yma Sumac.

Her career started soon after her dance studies at Bard College, (BA, 1961). That year, she recorded The Newest Sound Around with fellow Bard student, Ran Blake.

Particularly during the 1960s and 1970s, she recorded her distinctively independent and creative style either as a lead artist or a sidewoman for major performers of the jazz avant garde on independent labels in America and Europe. These labels included Birth, BYG Actuel, JCOA, ECM, Black Saint/Soul Note and Horo. Beginning in 1967, she started touring and recording with Gunter Hampel of Germany, who performed on vibraphone, bass clarinet, flute, soprano saxophone. Lee went on to marry Hampel. They had a son, Ruomi Lee-Hampel, and a daughter, Cavana Lee-Hampel. 3 Aside from Hampel, she also appeared on recordings and live performances of Marion Brown, Anthony Braxton, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Mal Waldron, Enrico Rava, Andrew Cyrille and John Cage. She had a major role in Carla Bley’s magnum opus, Escalator over the Hill (1971).

In 1976 she represented the African American spiritual musical tradition in John Cage’s Apartment House 1776, which was composed for the U.S. Bicentennial.

She passed away from cancer in 2000 in Tijuana, Mexico.


Natural affinities

Label: Owl/Sunnyside
Release date: January 01, 1992

Jeanne Lee - Natural affinities