Donovan Guy, impresario for the Westchester Jazz Legends Music Series will present the righteous Carmen Leggio and his Quartet for an evening of romantic jazz standards Saturday night, September 22 at the Westchester Arts Council Building as the keynoter in the 2001 Legends lineup.
The Westchester Arts Council building will turn into an old-fashioned jazz club without the smokey blue haze and drinks September 22, when Carmen Leggio, “The Tenor Man from Tarrytown” eases in for a one-night stand.
Guy reports that Leggio’s career headlined the original Birdland night club in the early 50s. He’s best known for his long association with Yonkers resident, Gene Krupa, and Carmen’s jazz career spans six decades.
“The Tenorman from Tarrytown” played with Maynard Ferguson’s All Stars Big Band. He was lead saxophone with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, with Benny Goodman’s Sextet, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.
The Tenorman with the Big Bell Sound
Leggio has been playing the same unique big bell tenor Gold Medal SML saxophone since 1961. The instrument, made by Strasser, Marigaux & Lemaire, with a bell over 6 inches in diameter, was given him by Jack Loeb, Manhattan importer of SML saxophones in 1961.
CARMEN LEGGIO as he appeared in the 1960s in a vintage advertisement for SML saxophones, from the SML website.
“I don’t know much about horns and mouthpieces,” Leggio (now in his 70s) explained his affection to writer Fred Cicetti, for his antique saxophone which is almost as old as he is. “A friend of mine (Loeb) got me to the right sax and set-up and I just stayed with it because it worked for me. A sax is like a pair of shoes. If you get a pair that is comfortable, you can learn how to do any kind of dance in them.”
The Willie Mays of Tenormen
Leggio can dance. His body language says “saxman.” Fred Cicetti, the jazz writer describes him as slightly stooped over, and his head bent down a bit. Cicetti writing on the SML website, loves his playing style: “Leggio blows tenor the way Willie Mays ran down a flyball. They both let you know from the get-go that you’ll never be able to do it their way.”
Man of a Thousand Songs
Leggio’s name means “music stand” in Italian, though he never uses one, because as Carmen says, “I have thousands of songs memorized. I can hear a song once and know how to play it. In my whole life, I’ve never bought a piece of sheet music.”
Jazz aficionados and couples looking for a moody evening in White Plains and what great tenor is should snap of a pair of the limited ducats for Carmen and his quartet. Only 200 seats will be sold.
The performance is at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, the Westchester Arts Council Building on Saturday night, September 22. The gig is from 7 to 10 PM. Tickets are $20 in advance,$25 at the door, and may be purchased at the Arts Council Building, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue. Call 328-0671 or 428-4220 for more details.
“The Tenorman from Tarrytown” Today. He’ll be appearing one night only, 7 PM to 10, Septemeber 22 at the Westchester Arts Council first floor rotunda. Tickets are $20 in advance, call328-0671 or 428-4220.
LocalBoy Plays Good
Leggio taught himself to play, first on the clarinet, trying to imitate Artie Shaw playing on the radio. Carmen still plays Artie’s romantic showstoppers: “Stardust,” “Nightmare” and “Begin the Beguine,” but when he does, he plays them on an old King metal clarinet like Artie.
By age 14, the lure of sax overcame him and he switched to tenor sax, and Leggio landed gigs in night clubs in Tarrytown.
His father was not happy: “I quit high school, because I knew I was meant to be a musician,” Leggio told writer Fred Cicetti in a recent interview. “But my father was so angry he didn’t speak to me for years. On his deathbed, he admitted I was right to leave school.”
His last album is “Sax After Midnight for Lovers,” on which he lends is smooth big tenor touch “My Foolish Heart,” “Angel Eyes,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “When Your Lover Has Gone,” and other favorite standards.
Cicetti describes the album stylings this way: “Leggio provides a lot of breath and vibrato to seduce his listeners. He sounds a bit like Ben Webster, but with even softer edges. The tone he gets throughout the range of his tenor will put anyone in the mood for love.”
In the mood for romantic sax
Mr. Leggio will appear at the Arts Council first floor rotunda with Chris Parker on skins, Doug Abrams at the keyboard, and Lou Stelluti on bass, and their stylings will be given an added dimension by Glenda Davenport joining them as vocalist.
What is Leggio’s big bell sound?
He explains why he has played his big bell SML for 41 years: “I loved it, because of the tone the bigger bell gives you. I also liked that it was heavy. I like a heavy horn because it’s like a heavy car—it holds the road better. I was told that Coleman Hawkins played an SML and that influenced me a little, too.”
Cecetti reports that Carmen accidently ran over his beloved saxophone last year and had to have his repairman, Jay Beers, attempt to repair it: “He did an incredible job,” Carmen reports. “Actually it sounds even better now. I have no idea why. It’s darker and mellower.”
White Plains hipsters can hear that “darker, mellower” sound — what tenor sax is all about September 22.
Save Time and Money, Order Tickets for All Concerts now
Coming up in the series after Carmen’s performance:
October 27, the Jazz Legends presents Fred Smith & The Masters of Swing.
November 24, it’s the Jimmy Hill Quartet with Alto Sax smoothie, Jimmy Hill performing.
A fourth concert is in the process of being booked. Jazz buffs may order a ticket for all 4 concerts for $75, 3 concerts, $55, 2 concerts,$35. Tickets for the Leggio performance are $20 apiece in advance, $25 at the door.