Leggio was born in Tarrytown, New York and died there on April 17, 2009. In his final years, he performed in various clubs and restaurants throughout Westchester, like the Red Hat Bistro in Irvington. In 2006 he recorded Three Legends Live At The Division Street Grill with Bucky Pizzarelli and Bill Crow at one of these dates. On April 17, 2009, he suffered a heart attack in front of his home in Tarrytown, and died later that day.
From an interview with Leggio conducted by Fred Cicetti, October 1999:
Leggio (incredibly, it means "music stand" in Italian) taught himself how to play at the age of nine. He began on clarinet, imitating Artie Shaw on the radio. He still performs "Stardust," "Nightmare" and "Begin the Beguine" on an old King metal clarinet. At 14, he switched to tenor sax and began playing in clubs in his hometown of Tarrytown, a suburb just north of New York City.
"I quit high school, because I knew I was meant to be a musician," he said. "But my father was so angry that he didn't speak to me for years. On his deathbed, he admitted I was right to leave school."That admission came after Leggio had played with Benny Goodman, Maynard Ferguson, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, and Doc Severinsen. There have also been television shows, movies, the Newport Jazz Festival, Birdland and, yes, Carnegie Hall.
From Colin Smith, EZRock 99.1:
After playing in local bands, Leggio came to New York City in 1950 where he worked with Terry Gibbs and became a studio musician. Most notable among his musical associations have been Marty Napoleon, Sol Yaged (1956), Benny Goodman (1957), Maynard Ferguson's Orchestra (1958-59), Woody Herman (1963) and during the late 1970's the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
"I don't know much about horns and mouthpieces. A friend of mine 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 are comfortable, you can learn how to do any kind of dance in them."
- Sax After Midnight (Good Music Record Company, 1996)
- A Sax for Christmas (Leggio, 2007)
With Bill Crow and Bucky Pizzarelli
- Three Legends Live at the Division Street Grill (2006, Leggio)
- Cocktails for Three
With Donnie O'Brien
- Donnie O'Brien Meets Manhattan Swing: In a Basie Mood (Arbors, 2004)
With Bill Crow
- From Birdland to Broadway: The Bill Crow Quartet (1996, Venus)
- Jazz Anecdotes: The Bill Crow Quartet (Venus, 1997)
With Maynard Ferguson
- A Message from Newport (Roulette, 1958)
- Swingin' My Way Through College (Roulette, 1959)
- Maynard Ferguson Plays Jazz for Dancing (Roulette, 1959)
- Maynard '64 (Roulette 1959-62 ) [1 track]
- M.H. Reed (2008-02-10). "From Factory Ruins, Windows on the Hudson". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
- Fred Cicetti (1999-10-26). "Carmen Leggio, Young Man With A Horn". Sax on the Web. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
- Peter Hales (2002-02-06). "SML: The Ongoing Story". Sax on the Web. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
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