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Ellie Lee: Escape

Ellie Lee: Escape
The term "promising" is typically used to describe a new arrival on the jazz scene. It may be synonymous with "hard to pigeonhole," or, perhaps, not yet completely realized in some stylistic sense. In the case of Ellie Lee, the word is misleading. Lee conjures up echoes of other distinguished players, but she clearly has something original to say. Her compositions, which comprise the bulk of the material here, have a vibe of their own, which comes from a keen sense of time, precisely on the beat, assertive, but tempered by very delicate harmonies. So, while Lee is more than capable of building to a crescendo, one is as much struck by the beauty and depth of her playing as by a considerable (classically formed) technique. The overall feel is duple, intense but melodic. She is ably supported by bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Jongkuk Kim, who keep a nicely flowing time. La Spina solos as well and on "On the Road" expressively and at considerable length. This track is surely one of the highlights of the recording, and, at 7:01, the longest as well. Lee is never at a loss for ideas, even on an extended track, she proves herself both driving and imaginative.

Saxophonist Steve Wilson is extensively featured, frequently accompanying Lee's lines before going off on his own. "New Chapter," the closing track, is a good example, with Wilson leading and Lee comping to good effect. Lee's solo here is reminiscent of the lines that Albert Dailey could play when he was in the mood. La Spina and Kim are in take-no-prisoners mode on this tune, and bring the proceedings to a very satisfying conclusion Lee affords Wilson plenty of playing space: there are times when a listener might simply wish to listen to her extemporize on her own, but that is, of course, a matter of taste.

With so many terrific young pianists around, and coming from all parts of the globe, one is sometimes hard pressed to pick a favorite. Ellie Lee is probably going to make it on to more than a few listeners' preferred list, And for good reason. She is "in the tradition" but making her own way. It will be fun to hear what she comes up with next.

Track Listing

Escape; Beyond the Blue; A Fine Day; Melrose Breeze; Whisper Not; Toss and Turn; On the Road; New Chapter.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Escape | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Sori-E Naite Music Company


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