Ask the crowd at Judy's Chelsea and they'll tell you Debbie Lesser is a veritable fireball onstage. Svelte, brunette and devilish in a red dress, Lesser returned to the Manhattan hotspot, swinging through a selection of songs from her new CD, Let's Misbehave.
The playlist certainly suggests misbehavior- selections include "Let's Misbehave" paired with "Let's Do It," "Keepin' Out of Mischief," "Rough and Ready Man," and "Hallelujah, I just Love You So," paired with "All Right, Okay, You Win," a song made more deliciously salacious by a chorus of men who sound very rough and ready.
Debbie Lesser describes herself as "a singer from the old school of female vocalists - the Edie Gorme style." She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, listening to 1930's & '40's swing and jazz, including George Shearing, Ramsey Lewis, Errol Garner and Tony Bennett. Other influences include Cleo Lane, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney and Joe Williams. "I always liked big-voiced singers," says Lesser. Her own vocal style is easygoing, confident, and designed to make listeners feel good. "When I first started auditioning in New York years ago, I was never an ing?nue - instead, I was always the sidekick, the one who had the big, fun lovin' song. That was the kind of singer I was, and still am."
Her first musical director in New York was longtime Bette Midler pianist Bill Schneider. Together, Lesser and Schneider played such New York mainstays as The Duplex, Ted Hooks and Upstairs at the Downstairs. During the late '80s and early '90s, Lesser expanded her repertoire to include rock music, often performing with China Club staple Bigtown. Returning to her roots, Lesser enlisted the skills of musical director David Brunetti, and the two have enjoyed a fruitful musical partnership for six years.
Lesser's musical punch and vivacious personae make for powerful and funny performances. Bold yet laid-back, she's a woman who can get away with looking like Marlo Thomas in That Girl while flirting mercilessly with her bass player...just ask the crowd at Judy's Chelsea.