New Tricks is a band that started in my basement. What started as casual weekly jam sessions quickly became a tightly knit ensemble with an identifiable sound and singularity of purpose. Although it features original compositions written by trumpeter and me, the band is firmly steeped in the jazz tradition while pushing the boundaries rhythmically and harmonically.
In addition to Ted on trumpet and me on saxophones, New Tricks features the stellar rhythm section of Kellen Harrison on bass and Shawn Baltazor on drums. These young musicians are known for their compelling groove as individuals and especially when working together.
I first used the name “New Tricks” to describe the band for a booking at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ in 2006. It’s original meaning was more about the rhythmic and harmonic devices the band employed, but soon the banter on the gig was about my somewhat more (ahem…) “veteran” status. So, the “New Tricks” had their “Old Dog” and the name stuck.
Above the Battleground
The tunes on this recording vary stylistically from the straight-ahead blues-flavored Leisure Suit to the haunting classical lines of Holy Instant to the thrashing and burning of Laws of Chaos. Yet they are all similar in their dedication to clear, strong, memorable melody. Featured guest Tim Hagans dramatically unlocks the subtle nuances and intricate rhythms of the tunes and Lee shines on inspired readings of Strayhorn’s A Flower is a Lovesome Thing and the standard The Best Things in Life are Free.
Personnel: Mike Lee – Sax & Clarinet, Tim Hagans – Trumpet, Matt Ray – Piano, Ben Allison – Bass, Tim Horner – Drums.
Carrying on in the proud tradition of Cleveland-born jazz musicians from Tadd Dameron to Joe Lovano, Cleveland- native, New York-based multi- saxophonist, composer and educator Mike Lee tours presents a contagious music picture of his home turf and jazz’s tradition.
Top-flight NY sidemen improvisers pianist Matt Ray, guitarist John Hart, bassist Andy McKee, drummer Tim Horner and special guest violinist Rebecca Harris ignite bop cookers to Latin grooves to down-home blues to a breathy “Stardust.” Jazz lovers will make Mike Lee’s backyard their own and will keep coming back just to “hang.”