I first met Lee in the early 80s when he walked across Central Park to a now defunct club named Bechet’s to hear one of his idols, the great saxophonist who made a name for himself in the late 40s playing with “Les Brown and the Band or Renown,” Ted Nash. The only problem was it wasn’t the great Ted Nash, it was me. Barely in my 20s, I was largely unknown, and it was understandable that Lee would make the mistake. The fact that Lee actually stayed and listened to this newbie play a set (although my trio did feature the pianist Kenny Baron) said a lot for him.
I have been a big fan of Lee’s for years. If you haven’t heard his 1949 recording “Subconscious-Lee” stop reading this and get your butt on Amazon...
And check out this video!
Although Lee’s playing has changed a lot - he now plays with much more space and reflection - it is extremely melodic and deeply felt. I love how he balances intellect with the blues.
Some of the Kenton arrangements are particularly inventive, especially the ones by Bill Holman and Bill Russo.
I really hope you can come check this concert out.