Jeanne Lee Day

January 29, 1939 – October 25, 2000

The adventurous singer is remembered

Singer Jeanne Lee was born January 29, 1939 in New York, New York.

Originally she studied modern dance and piano.

While attending Bard College, Lee met pianist Ran Blake resulting in a duet recording in 1961, The Newest Sound Around, that is considered a classic.

After a few years living in California, Jeanne Lee moved to Europe in 1967 where she performed with and eventually married Gunter Hampel, who played vibes and bass clarinet.

They worked together regularly, recording for Hampel’s Birth label and combining advanced jazz with poetry and multimedia projects. 

In addition to her work with Hampel, Lee performed with the who’s who of advanced jazz, recording duet albums with cellist David Eyges and pianist Mal Waldron, and appearing on records with Carla Bley, Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Anthony Braxton, Reggie Workman and Vocal Summit.

One of the very first avant-garde jazz singers, Lee was an innovator at creating wordless sounds although she also sounded quite natural performing lyrics, displaying a slightly heavy and husky voice.

Here is Jeanne Lee in 2000, the year of her passing, doing a fine job of interpreting “I Thought About You.”


Jeanne Lee, vocals
Mal Waldron, piano
Eric Barrett, tenor sax
Jean-Jacques Avenel, bass
John Betsch, drums

-Scott Yanow


Click here to Support Jazz on the Tube