Jeanne Lee and the Subversion of the Jazz Standard
A Lecture by
Prof. Eric Lewis
Associate Professor of Philosophy, McGill University
In 1961 Jeanne Lee made her first recording, a duo session with Ran Blake, who she was to continue to have close ties with for the rest of her career. It was an album of standards, and received at the time little recognition in the U.S. Until rather recently, the next known recording of Ms. Lee was on a 1968 lp with the Gunter Hampel Group, where she manifests assorted types of vocal experimentalism. As part of a larger project tracing the trajectory of Ms. Lee’s full career I want to offer a close reading of her 1961 interpretations of standards, supplemented with additional performances of standards recorded in Europe in 1963 and 1966 that are now available. What will emerge is an approach to standards that can be seen as naturally prefiguring her later vocal work, containing many of the tropes and methods that can be heard in her work from 1968 forward. I will suggest that her approach to standards can be heard as a commentary on the performance tradition of such songs to date, and can be partially explained by taking Ms. Lee to be effecting a particular social commentary via her approach—a commentary made more direct and pointed in some of her later work, such as on Blasé, a 1969 recording nominally under the leadership of Archie Shepp. The Jeanne Lee who will emerge will be one whose “radical turn” can be seen to predate her work with leading members of the avant-garde. This research is based on access to private papers of both Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake.
Thursday, February 2, 2017, 7pm
101 Prentis Hall
632 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
Columbia University Manhattanville Campus
All events are free and open to the public; however, an RSVP is required.