You may be aware of the jazz vocalist Allegra Levy from her divine 2020 album “Lose My Number.”

Now, I am one of those at this magazine who always says we should cover more jazz, and here we have some new jazz.

The “Out of the Question” theme came from Levy’s longtime collaborator, pianist Carmen Staaf. “She pointed out that some of the most beautiful songs are questions, not statements, and I became fascinated with the concept,” says Levy. “So we worked together and came up with this long list of cross-genre songs that end in a question. As you get older, you find that it’s more about the questions than the answers.”

Levy’s all-female quartet begs another question. A century ago, a band comprising women—in the talk of those times, an “all-girl orchestra”—was a novelty. By the turn of this century, it was a statement of empowerment. But we’ve passed the point of having to “prove” women can play this music, because a preponderance of talented improvisers and composers have made that clear. Now it’s strictly a matter of choice. So, in assembling this band of sisters—as she did on her 2020 album “Lose My Number”—Levy simply reached out to some of the best musicians in her orbit. But she also sought to recapture “the supportive and amazing energy” she experienced on that earlier date, adding, “I haven’t always felt that in the past”—a not-so-subtle nod to the challenges women still face in this male-dominated field. 

As for the album title,? “Well, I have this badass all-female trio that can’t be reckoned with,” Levy explains, “and messing with them really is ‘out of the question.’ But also, it’s about what comes out of the questions . . .”


The next question has to be, where is the review then? So I will put in the headphones and have a listen. I’m currently killing time in a hotel lounge, so it is fairly perfect for an album listen, albeit I miss my speakers at home! I will dive into this concept album, where every question seeks an answer.

“Are You Real?” takes us straight into the jazz club, the rhythm sways and the vocals zip along. I love that instrumental break! This is a Benny Golson number to which Allegra wrote some lyrics and some lyrical bopping. It marks a great, upbeat, start to the album.

“What Are You Waiting For?” This is one of two original numbers penned by Allegra. She says of the track that it’s “a sort of musical pep talk about going for what you want rather than waiting for dreams to magically come true. It’s a message I want to pass on to newcomers and other young women on the scene: make your own dreams and shape your own existence, because nobody is going to hand it to you.”

It opens with these lyrical little beats and sounds before slipping into the story of the train down to Brooklyn. Musically, the vocals are accompanied by the maracas. It’s a simple little track, haunting and gentle—rather lovely!

“Where Are You Going?” is a dreamy number full of those questions, “Will you be wise when there’s love in your eyes?” Somehow, we never are, are we? It’s a sad song, melancholic and a fusion of the blues with jazz. I enjoyed the little touches of piano.

“Should I stay, or should I go?” Now this one gets attention. Yes, it is a jazz version of the Clash classic. I have to say that Allegra completely reworks the sound and resets it in a jazz club where everything is swinging. My my, that piano is awesome and the groove is hitting the nail on the head. I hold that if you are going to do a cover track, you have to make the song work. As Freddie Mercury said, “when I’m dead, do what you like with my music, but never make it boring.” This is an example of reinventing a track and breathing fresh life into it in the process.

“What Is This Thing Called Love?” is the Ella Fitzgerald song (written by Cole Porter) reimagined. You need to be swaying to the music with this one, which is hard to achieve when sitting down! Again, the instrumentals are killing it, breaking off into instrumental freedom.

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Has music composed by Carole King and was a number one for the Shirelles before Dusty Springfield delivered a wonderful version. In fact, this was potentially dangerous territory for me because I know the Dusty Springfield version so well, being a fan. Allegra slows it right down, it becomes that number when its really late (or really early) and only two people are left on the dance floor. Who knows what the rest of the night will bring, and will he still love her tomorrow?

“Que Pasa?” Horace Silver did the music for this one, with lyrics added by Allegra. I liked this one, plenty of those moments of mystery within the voice. I think it is close to being Allegra’s best vocal performance on the album, it effortlessly slips from Spanish to English and is something of a triumph. The drumming is intriguing here too!

“What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” This song sees Staff ​​ interpolate one of Frédéric Chopin’s most famous etudes midway through one of Michel Legrand’s most intense romances. There were touches of late Nina Simone in the vocals, and it takes you on the journey of l’amore.

“Will You Still Be Mine?” has only Miller with the soft-shoe brush accompanying the vocals. This one asks if you will be mine when love loses its spark? The track is wonderful in its stripped down simplicity. One personal dream come true for Allegra was getting to record with drummer Allison Miller. “She’s been one of my heroes ever since I got to New York,” Levy says. Called “a modern jazz icon in the making” by “All About Jazz,” Miller is known for everything from leading her own stellar band, Boom Tic Boom, to being a member of the supergroup “Artemis.”

What’s in a name? Is a slow lullaby, dreamy, a cloud to lie back on. 

“How Deep Is the Ocean?” This returns to another classic written by Irving Berlin in 1932. It’s been covered by many artists, notably Bing Crosby. This is a solid version that gives it a personal twist and blends the vocal and instrument effortlessly, they become one.

“What Are You Doing on New Year’s Eve?” You may know this one from the Ella Fitzgerald version and it was written by Frank Loesser. It is delivered very smoothly here, and I could really see it doing well on late night radio. 

“What’ll I do?” This Irving Berling track closes the album, and the album moves rather beautifully toward a conclusion. “What’ll I do when you are far away?” go with those classic lyrics. I’ve always loved this song, and every time I hear it, I am taken to another place and time. This time was no different, I’m always happy to hear this song.

And as an overview, the whole concept of fusing together songs with questions is very interesting, and in an answer, I really hope that he will still love her in the morning, and when the lust element of first love dies. Allegra really does have one of those classic jazz voices, and she has an extremely talented team here that shows love and respect for each of these classic tracks, making them her own. 

Standout tracks: “Are You Real?” “Should I Stay, or Should I Go?” and “Will You Still be Mine?”

Album Details: “Out of the Question”

Release Date:  May 20, 2024

Label: SteepleChase Records

Running time: 64 minutes

You can stream the album from here

As a finishing point, to keep us improving the magazine, we really do need your support, and if you can go to the ‘support us’ button and buy us a coffee, it helps us feel appreciated and keep improving the magazine. We also have our merchandise shop, I’m looking great in the gear! Read on, check out our many great features and reviews, and do bookmark us on your pages!

By Lorraine Foley