Phoebe Legere | Ooh La La Coq Tail

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Ooh La La Coq Tail

by Phoebe Legere

"Unique and unclassifiable--Phoebe Legere is  a true original. And she contains multitudes." - Chip Deffaa This song is a French-English tribute to the world's most beloved songwriters. Played LIVE at Bennett Studios.
Genre: Jazz: Gypsy Jazz
Release Date: 

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1. Que Reste-T-iL De Nos Amours?
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4:45 $0.99
2. I Love Myself When I'm With You (feat. George Leonard)
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3:27 $0.99
3. Under Paris Skies
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3:13 $0.99
4. Prelude To A Kiss
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4:15 $0.99
5. Sometimes It Snows in Las Vegas
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3:21 $0.99
6. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
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4:18 $0.99
7. Hot Sicilian Pizza Boy
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3:50 $0.99
8. Sex is Love
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4:09 $0.99
9. Nancy with the Laughing Face
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4:28 $0.99
10. Just One of Those Things
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3:12 $0.99
11. Paris Je T'Aime
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3:58 $0.99
12. Good Stiff Cock- Tail
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5:07 $0.99
13. Crazy White Trash
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3:45 $0.99
14. Swing Your Body
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2:22 $0.99
15. Earth Singing World
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4:14 $0.99
16. Playing Me Like A Piano
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Chip Deffaa

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  for
a while 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 ten 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 Sinbad Sinatra or some variant;   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.

* * *
Legere  opens here with a favorite from master French
singer/songwriter Charles Trenet’s “Que Reste-til de  Nos Amours”
(popularized in America, in translation, as “I Wish You Love”).  Trenet, she notes,
“was a favorite of my grandparents.  When I sing French,  I think my
ancestors are listening to me; I sing to them! My grandparents–French  Canadians,
from New Brunswick--spoke French. When I sing, my ancestors  feel  very
close to me.  Music, you know, is a bridge between life and  death.” (Enjoy,
too, the poised, Spanish-tinged trumpeting of Warren  Vache.)


For Rodgers & Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” Legere
chooses to sing some of the brilliant, original, uncensored lyics that Lorenz
Hart wrote for their 1941 Broadway musical,  “Pal Joey” (in which the song
was introduced); those lyrics were initially considered too frank for airplay,
 and many recording artists wound up singing  sanitized alternate lyrics
instead.  But Legere, wisely, goes back to the source.

Hee haunting “Prelude to a Kiss” is, course, a Duke Ellington evergreen,
composed by Ellington in 1938 and a vital part of his repertoire for the rest
of  his life.  You'll often find Legere playing some Ellington.  He had a
significant impact upon her, she says.  “I was a child of nine when I got
to see and hear Duke Ellington.  Somebody hired him for a debutante  party.
I walked into the tent where he was playing, and I was  transfixed.   I
walked up next to him.  I watched him playing. I  watched the way his fingers
were landing on the keys–so  different from any  kind of classical technique
I'd seen.” His whole life force seemed to be going  into those hands.  He was
concentrating on the music, and on his band. And  then, Legere recalls, “he
turned  very slowly and he looked into my  eyes.  And a that moment I said
to myself. ‘Jazz.’  He  transmitted something to me--this skinny, ugly
white kid.  It  was  metaphysical, a transmission from master to student.  It
changed my  life.... There’s a reason why we keep honoring these great
masters; they're  spiritual sources for us.”


“Under Paris Skies” was a song first  sung  by the French  singer/actress
Juliette Greco, of whom it’s been said, her voice “encompasses  millions of
poems.”

 Legere  learned this song, and details of the Davis/Greco  relationship (“
she'd give him money, he'd buy heroin...”),  when singing  with the Larry
Rivers Big Band.  Jazz saxist/bandleader/painter Rivers, who  taught the song
to Legere, was a  friend of Miles Davis  and  Charlie Parker.  (Rivers and
Davis studied composition at Juilliard in the  late 1940s; Davis and Parker
were roommates at the time.)   Legere is a link in the greatest American jazz lineage.  She
sang with  Rivers, who played with Miles Davis and Charlie  Parker.  “Under Paris Skies,” Legere
proclaims, “is about the best piece of  real estate in the world.”  Enjoy, too,
Aaron Weinstein’s contributions on  violin.  (Weinstein is, along with
Jonathan Russell, one of my favorite  jazz improvisers on violin today.)


“Love Myself” is a duet between Legere and Sultan Sinatra (a/k/a George
Leonard), who penned it.  She says of him: “We blend–not just our voices;  he
’s a very nice guy, very compassionate.” It’s important to her, she says,
that  the people she works with are nice, not just talented.  In the often
cut-throat recording industry, “nice” is not a word one hears too often.
But for Legere it’s a key word.  She wants to work with people with whom
she feels a connection; she likes her collaborators to have a sense of
humanity  she likes, not just be talented.  She obviously likes and trusts George Leonard
Sinatra here; they sang together  “live” into just one microphone.   (Many
artists record duets with the singers in separate isolation booths, but
such duets can sound colder.)


“Love Three Times (Sex is Love)” deals with the way sex is different  for
women and men;  for women, Legere notes, “sex is romance, for guys sex  is
more about physical needs.”


Legere serves up Cole Porter’s  “Just One of those Things” in  French
(lyrics translated by Sam Goodyear).  Legere has lots of Porter  numbers–both
famous and obscure–in her repertoire.   She quips, “Cole Porter is WASP soul  music!”  The
highly respected bassist Jon Burr, who’s worked with everyone  from Buddy Rich to
Tony Bennett to Stephane Grappelli, played a brilliant solo


Legere’s original “Sometimes it Snows in Las Vegas,” suggests that even
if you're having the world’s worst losing streak in life, sometimes you can
get  a lucky break.  The inspiration for this particular song came when
Legere  was visiting a friend in Las Vegas, and–while she was just five miles
outside  of the city–it suddenly, unexpectedly began to snow.

The song “Playing Me” came to Legere while she was camping, up in the
Adirondacks.  She notes:  “I started hearing this song, about how  people can
manipulate us sexually.”  And if the spirit she brings to this  particular
performance feels a little more like  Louisiana Cajun  than  “Adirondacks,”
she’s entitled.  She’s got plenty of relatives in that part  of the country,
too.
The Legeres were on of the  17 original Acadian families who settled up in
Nova Scotia; some family members  ultimately wound up in Louisiana. The
music, she stresses,  is in the  family; (Legere hopes to do a family album
eventually.)  Her grandfather,  Jean Philippe Legere played accordion well, too;
the first time she picked up  his accordion, she says, she began playing it
as if she'd been playing it all  her life.


Written in 1929, “Paris” is a Maurice Chevalier speciality.  He
introduced it in the film “The Love Parade,” and made successful recordings of  it
in both French and English.  Legere is the only female I've ever heard
perform this number.  As she lightly puts it: “I'm trans-genre and  trans-gender.
 I fell in love with that song the first time I heard  it.   I love pretending I'm
that cocky guy that Maurice Chevalier always  played, walking jauntily down
the street..  The lyrics are saying, ‘I love  Paris as  if she is woman, as
if she is a mistress who makes me  drunk.  I love all the women in Paris,
one after another.’” Legere, who is  as much of an entertainer as a jazz
artist, performs this song different ways,  different times.  At the Iridium
jazz club, she swung it like crazy,  opening it up so she could  romp in a  stride piano vein.  Request this number if
you go see her; she just might  surprise you.


The moving “Creation Hymn” (which was recorded “live,” outdoors in
Wisconsin) is a traditional Native American song that was taught to Legere by
her maternal grandmother,   “She just passed,” Legere says of her
grandmother.  “She was a great influence on me.  She taught me many  Native American
songs.  This is an  ancient medicine song, perhaps  10,000 year old.  It’s
an  inter-tribal hymn,  sung by a number  of different tribes, containing
deeply powerful metaphysical messages.   It’s a deeply healing song, a blessing.


“Earth Singing World” is  a four-minute piano improvisation by Legere;
the piece speaks for itself.

“Red Road” is a number from “The Queen of New England, “ Legere’s opera
about Queen Weetamo, a Pocassett Wampanoag Native American chief .n.  She tried  to  make
peace, but the Puritans wouldn't speak to her.  There was war; she was beheaded.  But you can't really kill something that is  good and
true.”

Everything Legere does has a bit of an autobiographical feel.   It’s all
coming from within her; it’s not something that she’s performing  because a
producer (or anyone else) has told her to do it.   And for  me, that’s part
of what makes Legere so appealing.

A major record label actually signed her at one point, but when she saw how
 they wanted to control her and shape her image (for starters, they wanted
her to  stop playing piano and accordion, and only sing), she realized it
was not a good  fit.  
She’s  continued to do her own thing as an independent artist, with
integrity.


 Imagine.... A record company trying to tell her not to play  piano?  Or
accordion?  A company trying to tell her that IT would  determine what her
image should be.....  They seriously thought they could  do that with Phoebe
Legere?!?

As she notes: “It was  hard for me to knuckle under, to go along with the
record company’s idea that  music is to be packaged for gain. There’s a lot
of sickness in the record  business.    To Native Americans, music is
sacred.  
 Here’s Legere, a blues-influenced jazz singer and interpreter of
chansons who feels singing should be as natural as taking a breath.    She’s
comfortable going back to basics–offering her take on The Great American  Song.
Reaching deep within oneself, and striving to come up with, as she  puts it,
“a  sonic bouquet of flowers–every type imaginable.   I'm trying to bring
beauty into the world.”

Aaron Weinstein told me: “I had a wonderful experience working with Phoebe
on this project. She has a very strong sense of her musical identity and
it's  always a thrill working with people who are so confident in their music
making.”


Legere comments: “I'm coming from the spiritual aspect of  music, not
the pop tradition.  Music brings harmony to the family, unites  generations.
I don't go for what’s trendy, or the quick buck.”

The one thing I found amusing about seeing Legere  recently at Iridium  was
there was one  young audience member, sitting near me–a new fan by the
name of Joey,  who commented afterwards that her sense of style, her body
language, and her attitude reminded him a little of one of his favorites, Lady
Gaga;
Phoebe Legere is not just deeper, she  has been Phoebe Legere  since
before the performer now known as Lady Gaga had even been born. Lady Gaga–who’s lived within  just a
few blocks of Legere–has been influenced by Legere.
 But Legere, compared to Lady Gaga, is a pioneer.  As Legere  says, “You
can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs.  I just pull  them out
and keep singing.”

– CHIP DEFFAA

(Jazz critic Chip Deffaa is the author of  eight published books,
including “Voices of the Jazz Age” and “Blue Rhythms,” both published by the
University of Illinois Press.)

.





Reviews


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Susie Rakowski

WOW! Phoebe Does It Again
Great, wonderful CD whether you are looking for music to accompany your upcoming party or searching for the
perfect tunes to take on your road trip. Phoebe Legere never disappoints. Packed with tons of talent and amazing songs. If you are looking to buy one CD, this does it all. Brava, Phoebe! Love, Love, Love It!!