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New Tricks

Mike Lee: Saxophones
Ted Chubb: Trumpet
Kellen Harrison: Bass
Shawn Baltazor: Drums

Four members of the celebrated Cecil’s Big Band at Cecil’s Jazz Club and Restaurant in West Orange, New Jersey" tenor saxophonist Mike Lee, trumpeter Ted Chubb, bassist Kellen Harrison, and drummer Shawn Baltazor"decided five years ago to get together for jam sessions in the basement of Lee’s house in nearby Montclair. Lee and Chubb brought some original compositions to jam on at the Wednesday afternoon sessions, and the men soon discovered they had a special musical affinity for one another.

“We didn’t get together with the idea of being a band,” Lee explains. “We just realized after a few weeks that we were a band.”

They decided to call the quartet New Tricks. All four musicians are firmly rooted in post-bop jazz traditions, yet they bring new twists to acoustic straight-ahead jazz conventions with their use of challenging rhythmic and harmonic devices. The name also refers to Lee, at age 47, being the “old dog” of the bunch. Chubb is 30 and, like co- leader Lee, hails from the Cleveland, Ohio area. Both Harrison and Baltazor are originally from Northern California"the bassist was raised in Concord, the drummer in San Rafael" and are in their mid-20s.

Following the release of New Tricks’ self-titled debut CD in the summer of 2009, the quartet toured for a weekinOhio. In the spring of 2010, the group toured for three weeks in the Midwest and two in California. During these tours, New Tricks focused on nine new tunes"six by Lee, three by Chubb" that were recorded immediately upon returning home and comprise Alternate Side, New Tricks’ brilliant sophomore CD.

The music on Alternate Side is clearly a group effort in which the four musicians interact with and complementeach other as if they are of one mind. Their empathy is uncanny.

“Mike and I always say that the band sounds the best when we’re all playing at the same time,” Chubb states. “If I’m soloing, Mike is playing a background. We’re always musically complementing each other to reinforce the tune. Everything about this band is about reinforcing the compositions.”

Although the instrumentation of New Tricks is similar to that of Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet" saxophone, trumpet, bass, and drums, with no piano or guitar supplying chords" New Tricks’ tunes, unlike most of Coleman’s, are constructed with chord changes as their foundations.

“We’re not playing without a chordal instrument in order to have more freedom,” Lee says. “We feel that the absence of piano means we have more responsibility to play the harmony, not less. We want people to be able to hear the tune. Ted and I comp for each other. We try to catch part of the harmony while the other one’s playing so that we reinforce the song.”

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“New Tricks has all of the cohesion and assuredness of a working band " something not experienced as often as it once was in jazz. New Tricks mirrors the personality of Its leader, Mike Lee, a brilliant saxophonist of the highest level.”

- Christian McBride

“New Tricks conveys a distinct New York sound on its aggressively swinging sophomore effort. The quartet puts a new spin on an old hard-bop formula without crossing over into the avant-garde camp.” -Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

“Mike lee and New Tricks have a real New York sound..very seasoned and swinging..I like this band..”

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Alternate Side...

Self Produced


Alternate Side

Self Produced



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