Jazz vocalist Jeanne Lee (New York, 1939)
met Ran Blake at college and they began to improvise together on
The Newest Sound Around (november 1961)
Relocating to Europe in 1967, she joined Gunter Hampel's ensemble and
provided vocals for his albums between 1968 and 1983, such as
Gunter Hampel Group + Jeanne Lee (april 1968),
The 8th July 1969 (may 1969), Ballet-Symphony (197O)
Spirits (august 1971),
Angel (may 1972),
I Love Being With You (july 1972),
Out From Under (january 1974),
Journey to the Song Within (february 1974),
as well as the duo albums
Freedom Of The Universe (june 1979)
Oasis (july 1978) and the trio
with Anthony Braxton Familie (Birth, 1972).
Scheisse '71 (november 1971) documents a live performance with her husband Gunter Hampel on vibraphone, flute and bass clarinet, Sven-Ake Johansson on drums, accordion, and oboe d'amore, Michael Waisvisz on synthesizer, and Freddy Gosseye on electric bass.
Familie (april 1972) contained only one
55-minute improvisation for Jeanne Lee,
Gunter Hampel (vibraphone, bass clarinet, flute, piano, soprano saxophone)
and Anthony Braxton (alto saxophone, clarinets, flute).
She was also featured on masterpieces of the era such as
Archie Shepp's Blase (1969),
Carla Bley's Escalator Over the Hill (197O)
and Marion Brown's Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun (1970).
Her first solo album, Conspiracy (may 1974), featuring
Gunter Hampel, Sam Rivers, Steve McCall and Jack Gregg,
displayed her creative style, which expanded the jazz vocabulary with
elements borrowed from Tibet and India, inspired by Yma Sumac,
taking advantage not only of the
"voice" but also of lip and throat sounds.
A trio with Andrew Cyrille and Jimmy Lyons yielded Nuba (july 1979).
Other collaborations included:
Sorrow Is Not Forever (november 1982) with Vocal Summit (a quintet
of vocalists formed with Jay Clayton, Ursula Dudziak, Bobby McFerrin and Lauren Newton),
African Moods (october 1984) with Archie Shepp,
Don't Freeze Yourself To Death Over There In Those Mountains (june 1986) with TTT,
You Stepped Out Of A Cloud (august 1989) with Blake,
Here and Now (july 1993) with cellist David Eyges,
After Hours (may 1994) with Mal Waldron,
White Road Black Rain (august 1995) and Travelin' in Soul Time (august 1995) with Mal Waldron and flutist Toru Tenda,
Going Through (1984), credited to Going Through, was one extended piece with violinist Billy Bang, tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe, bassist William Parker and two percussionists.
Natural Affinities (july 1992), her second and last solo, is less
cohesive and revolutionary than the first one.
Mingus Meditations, an improvised duo with Dave Holland, and the pieces
featuring Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet may be interesting but are hardly
personal. Lee only shines on the Brazilian shuffle
Ambrosia Mama/ Celebration of a State of Grace.
The double-disc The Newest Sound You Never Heard collects sessions recorded by Ran Blake and Jeanne Lee in 1996-97.
She also composed the
jazz opera La Conference Des Oiseaux,
the oratorio Prayer For Our Time,
the five-part suite Emergence.
Jeanne Lee died in october 2000 of cancer.