Friday, September 9, 2011

"Music In The Key Of My Life" - Stephen Lee, Jazz Pianist

            Needless to say that JAZZ is my kind of music!  I simply love it!  And, for you naysayers out there, Jazz is Alive and Well!  And, my man, Stephen Lee out of Memphis, Tennessee has confirmed that statement with his recent CD “Music in the Key of My Life.”  It’s a real winner. 

Here’s how I came to meet Lee.  About a month ago, I received an email from him, asking for my land mailing address.  He said he wanted it, so he could send a CD to me.  He stated that he was trying to get some play time on the radio and asked if I could possibly help him.  Since, my major stick is to help jazz musicians new on the scene expose their talents to the world, I gave him my address. 

             The CD arrived a few days later and I started listening to it while riding in my automobile.  That was a big mistake.  When the first tune started playing, I almost ran into my garage door.  First of all, it had a strange title “As The Deer” by Martin Nystrom and arranged by Lee.  Well let me tell you, the tune outright swings with an out of sight drum performance by drummer James Sexton.  I instantly liked that first tune and knew I was going to feel the same way about the entire CD.  At first, I thought Lee’s piano playing was suggestive of Ahmad Jamal but only by a slight intimation.  As I listened to the rest of the CD, it was apparent that Lee has his own style; one that I believe is definitely going to catch on, once the public gets a taste of his playing.

            On the second tune “Here I Am”, I again had a problem connecting the title with the playing, but oh my goodness, they certainly “cook” on that selected cut; I guess that’s the way Lee was telling listeners he was present and accounted for.  The tune is definitely a “cooker” and has a fantastic drum solo towards the end of the tune.  It is a Stephen Lee original, definitely one to be proud of.  At that particular time, I listened to one more cut on the CD which was the third cut called “Coming Home” and another one of Lee’s originals.  On this tune, I heard familiar musical tidbits of Bill Evans in Lee’s playing, but not so much that it took away Lee’s originality.  I loved the way the tune slowed things down a bit with a most poignant melody.   Lee’s trio players on these first three tunes are Lee on piano, Doc Samba playing electric bass, and as previously mentioned James Sexton on drums.  Noticeably, the three trio members perform together often because you can essentially hear it in their playing … tight! 

             Every day during the entire week, I listened to Lee’s CD, and each time I listened I fell more and more in love with it.  Lee’s piano performance on the entire CD is superb, splendid, and impressive!  There are a total of eight tunes.  In addition to the three abovementioned tunes there are: “A Message from God”, “God Has Smiled On Me”, “Glorious”, “God’s Vision”, and a beautiful original tune “Breathe On Me” with words written by Latisha Williams and Martine Allard.  Ms. Allard does the vocal on this tune and does an outstanding job, while Melvin Smith performs an exceptional tenor sax solo.  There is a slight change in musical personnel on tunes six to eight.  On these tunes, Melvin Smith plays tenor sax, Styx Bones takes on drum duty, Corcoran Holt plays upright bass, and on keyboards and strings Ian Williams.  

          This CD “Music In The Key of My Life” I unreservedly recommend you purchase.  If you like music, you’ll enjoy it immensely.  If you like jazz…“It’ll blow your mind!”  Check Lee out at:

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Remember to “Keep Jazz Alive” by “Supporting Live Jazz!”
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