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Scott Lee: Leaving (2010)

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Scott Lee: Leaving How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Maybe te annual jazz awards need to add a new category for musicians like Scott Lee. It could be titled "master musicians deserving of wider recognition." The veteran bassist has been on the New York scene since the 1970s, and a member of numerous bands including those led by titans Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
, Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, and, Kenny Werner
Kenny Werner
Kenny Werner
b.1951
piano
. He has also been a sympathetic contributor to the careers of Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
b.1980
sax, alto
and Andrew Rathbun
Andrew Rathbun
Andrew Rathbun

saxophone
. With Leaving, his followup to One Thought (SteepleChase, 2008), he dispatches a recording that blurs the lines between the compositions written and improvised.

It would be easy to identify most of the tracks here as comprehensively composed music. The improvisation is that good—or maybe its' simply a near-perfect match of sympathetic players. Lee has been working with drummer Jeff Hirshfield
Jeff Hirshfield
Jeff Hirshfield
b.1955
drums
and saxophonist Billy Drewes for over thirty years, and pianist Gary Versace
Gary Versace
Gary Versace

organ, Hammond B3
has been part of that conversation for the past eight. Versace seems to fit in nicely with any ensemble, from the large orchestras of Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
and John Hollenbeck
John Hollenbeck
John Hollenbeck
b.1968
drums
, to Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
b.1964
drums
's Arts and Crafts, and duos with Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
.

The communication and cooperation is evident from note one. Lee writes homelike pieces that the players stretch and invigorate. The opening "Taxed" begins with an orderly melody, with Drewes's tenor coming from the Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
b.1947
sax, tenor
school—full of long lush tones. Drewes is also a skilled soprano technician, his escalating sound soaring over several tracks including the hesitant "JGB" and "Two Ways," the latter possessing an insistent theme over which Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
would have felt comfortable working. Drewes and Versace are simply dancing here to the radiant melody.

As a leader, Lee rarely steps out for recognition. His bow speaks measures on the overtly simple "Musing," where Versace and the bassist converse, while he picks/plucks his way through a slippery duo with Hirshfield on "The Connection." The pair prefers time to be liquid—morphing into varying shades and textures that are best illustrated on "Drummersome," where Hirshfield changes time signatures throughout, his partners left to react, act, and swing like hell.

Track Listing: Taxed; Two Ways; Musing; JGB; Old Friends Talking; Choice; The Connection; Leaving; Drummersome; What's Up; Shamrock.

Personnel: Scott Lee: bass; Billy Drewes: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet; Gary Versace: piano; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.

Record Label: SteepleChase Records


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