Mike Lee: NEW NEW YORK Mike Lee biography

Tenor saxophonist Mike Lee was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and studied music at Cleveland State University and The College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.  He studied with Joe Lovano in New York.  In the summer of 1990, Lee joined the Woody Herman Orchestra with which he toured until spring of 1991.  Also in 1990, The Quiet Answer, his debut recording, was released.  While living in Cleveland, Lee traveled throughout the region performing in Cincinnati, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Toronto.

He has co-led bands for the Tri-C Jazz Fest with Marcus Belgrave, Bobby Watson and Geri Allen and has performed as a featured soloist in concert with Joe Lovano, Rosemary Clooney, Marlon Jordan and Johnny Coles.  Lee has also played in larger ensembles backing artists such as Benny Carter, Sweets Edison, Gary Burton, Eddie Daniels, Claudio Roditi, Kenny Barron, Louie Bellson, Natalie Cole, Ernestine Anderson, Buddy Defranco, Mark Whitfield and Mel Torme.

Lee can be heard frequently with the Village Vanguard Orchestra (formerly the Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra), the Maria Schneider Orchestra (with whom he was recently featured in Maria's CNN profile) and the Bill Mobley Big Band with which he recently performed and recorded along side acclaimed pianists James Williams, Harold Mabern and Mulgrew Miller.  He has appeared around town with small groups which include New York musicians such as guitarists John Hart and Ron Affif, trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Elliot Zigmund.  Two of Mike's compositions were selected among the top five in the 1997 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and BMI International Jazz Composers Competition.  He was a member of Joe Lovano's Celebrating Sinatra touring ensemble.

His second CD, Above the Battleground on Consolidated Artists Productions (CAP), featuring Tim Hagans on trumpet, Ben Allison on bass, Matt Ray on piano and Tim Horner on drums, was released in 1999.  Currently, Mike lives in the New York City area, tours extensively with his own bands and maintains a busy schedule of clinics and guest artist appearances for university jazz programs. Recent festival appearances have included performances with Benny Green, Marian McPartland, Matt Wilson and John Hart.

For booking information call (973) 509-2906 or e-mail info@mikeleejazz.com.  For frequent updates go to www.mikeleejazz.com.

Mike Lee critical acclaim

  • "This is a nicely surprising record. The lines are solid and everyone concerned makes strong individual contributions, but it is the group feeling that jumps out at you... The whole group just listens so well — folks despairing about the state of the art who spend their time choosing between a twenty-third Blakey record or a seventeenth Lee Morgan may find solace here."
    —Duck Baker, JazzTimes review of Above the Battleground (May 1999)
  • "Tenor saxophonist Michael Lee represents the latest luminary in a long tradition of outstanding Cleveland saxophonists. His writing and playing exhibit a consistently high intelligence and concern for continuity and purpose. ...I have noticed an assimilation of varied influences in the hard-bop mainstream, and a marvelous fluency. His command of the instrument is masterful, and he has refined an incisive posture within his approach to improvisation." —Mark C. Gridley, author Jazz Styles: History and Analysis (Prentice-Hall)
  • "Mike Lee is a very gifted and exciting young saxophonist who has the future in his sound."
    —Joe Lovano, Blue Note recording artist
  • "...tenor saxophonist Mike Lee Performed splendidly... The youthful Lee was easily the most exciting soloist... ...(his) work was consistently imaginative and passionate... His full blooded, delightfully churlish improvisation on 'Focus' lit up the place, and his solo on 'Good Bait' was refreshingly different..." —Robert Derwae, The Cleveland Plain Dealer (9/18/90)
  • "...a wonderful saxophonist and composer as well..." —Michael Brecker, Impulse recording artist
  • "On the basis of The Quiet Answer, Michael Lee has joined the ranks of the Cats (Branford Marsalis, Ralph Moore, Courtney Pine, Ralph Bowen): Fresh voices who are widening the envelope of possibility within the tenor/soprano saxophone post-bop mainstream. His sound on tenor is clean and strong... He writes good songs and he possesses the discipline and fluency to shape the flow of every improvisation into meaningful form..." —Thomas Conrad CD Review (August 1991)
  • "Mike Lee? Wow! I really enjoyed creating with him. His sensitivity is superb." —Marcus Belgrave Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
  • "[Joe] Lovano....and [Mike] Lee [filling the Role taken by Joshua Redman on the record] played off each other with all the uncanny musical symbiosis that the great tenor teams of yore — Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons — used to exhibit." —David Sowd, Akron Beacon-Journal (2 January 1995)
  • Selmer Clinician, Mike Lee
    "As a clinician for Selmer Mike Lee presents jazz improvisation workshops for music students of all levels. These sessions range from discussions of principle elements in improvisation and improvisation education to fine nuances of rhythm and interaction among musicians. The major elements of jazz are presented with a special emphasis on two often overlooked aspects of jazz style: blues and ballads. Within these two styles lie the foundation for all jazz playing and the keys to unlocking a student's individual voice. Students are taken through several playing drills which quickly and dramatically improve ensemble groove on ballads and up tempo tunes, develop group interaction and teach economy and use of space to soloists. Mr. Lee also lectures on music business practices, jazz composition, recording objectives and overcoming destructive thought processes in musical performances.
    "Mike is an outstanding clinician and an excellent musician. He has much to offer both the beginning and advanced student. I recommend him highly."
    —Gene Aitken, Director, University of Northern Colorado Jazz Studies Program
  • "Mike Lee gave an excellent saxophone/jazz improvisation clinic at the University of Miami. He chose to address the all-important issues of sound, time, and personal expression and definitely got his message across to my saxophone students, and to the members of the rhythm section as well. He also shared some good advice about establishing a career as a jazz musician, detailing the obstacles as well as the rewards. I would highly recommend his program to any music school." —Gary Keller, saxophone faculty member, University of Miami Jazz Program
Mike has given clinics at the following universities and schools:
  • Akron University
  • Ashland Univsersity
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Cincinnati Performing Arts High School
  • Cleveland State University
  • Depauw University
  • Fresno City College
  • Knox College
  • Kent State University
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Interlochen Arts Academy
  • Iowa State University
  • Knox College
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Oberlin Conservatory
  • Ohio State University
  • South Suburban College
  • Southwestern Community College
  • St. Petersburg Jr. College
  • University of California - Bakersfield
  • University of California - Fresno
  • University of California - Los Angeles
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Indiana
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Miami
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Redlands
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Tampa
  • University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
  • University of Wisconsin, Platteville
  • University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse
  • Western Illinois University
  • Wichita State University
  • Youngstown State University
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