Over the last several years Lezlie Harrison’s burnished, soulful alto, striking beauty and distinctive blend of jazz, classic 70's soul, and original music has become a fixture on the New York jazz scene.
Often heard around New York City in venues like the The Sugar Bar, Zinc Bar, the Metropolitan Room and Smalls Jazz Club. She recently performed for a sold out house at the Apollo Theater during the 2013 Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival. Harrison also plays frequently at The Jazz Gallery with her own group and with the Roy Hargrove Big Band --- All About Jazz voted one such engagement with Hargrove “Best Performance” of 2006. Luminaries like Dr. Lonnie Smith, Johnny O’Neal and Grady Tate have brought her funky, sultry presence to their bandstands. She was a featured vocalist at the 2007 Charlie Parker Jazz festival, opening for Cassandra Wilson at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. International engagements include extended gigs in Paris, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera.
Harrison has excelled in other areas of creative performance. These include early theatrical experiences with the Negro Ensemble Company and success as an on-air radio personality, first with a weekly jazz program at WBGO, and more recently hosting a daily show on the the blues channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. Harrison is a co-founder of The Jazz Gallery.
Harrison is currently at work on her debut CD featuring her band, Saul Rubin on guitar, Greg Lewis on B3 organ and keyboards and Vince Ector on drums, with a guest appearance by trumpeter Roy Hargrove. On it, Lezlie draws upon the deepest foundations of her musical orientation: the soul music that surrounded her during formative years in Harlem, the gospel music she sang as a child in her grandfather’s Methodist church in North Carolina. Drawn to male vocalists Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Sly Stone, and Johnny Hartman, Harrison’s trademark has been to update classic 70’s soul repertoire with a modern outlook. She calls them “the soul standards that shaped my life.”
After recently hearing Harrison sing, Don’t Go To Strangers”, musician Bootsy Collins wrote -“Lezlie, sing it like you do, and they will all come home to you because real is really how you feel but even more because you cain't explain the pain that makes you feel good about getting rid of it. Keep pouring it out and maybe some of us will catch on, I think I just did. Love & P-funk hugs to you!” She moves from a deeply felt blues to a swinging jazz tune, then takes it home with a soulful ballad that brings tears to your eyes. And you the audience are right there with her.
The Great American Soul Book, Vol.1 will feature the debut of some of Ms. Harrison’s own compositions along with songs written by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan. Jazz standards will preside alongside popular songs laced with gospel infusions and ballads that morph into funk excursions. All anchored by the core group Lezlie has been working with since 2005. Expect some appearances and instrumental arrangements from some very special guests who have been “chomping at the bit” for the opportunity.