March/April

March ended on a high note as we accelerate into busy season!

Dave Stryker Quartet March 30th

After our CD release at Dizzy’s, I was thrilled to come back home to Montclair last Saturday night and play with Dave Stryker at our local landmark, Trumpets Jazz Club. It was Dave’s birthday celebration and the place was filled to the rafters! It was exciting to play for so many friends and neighbors. Dave is churning out more great music and has already recorded two albums this year which are due for release this spring. I had fun helping him work up the music for these releases and was delighted to perform much of this music at Trumpets. Trumpets has been a vital part of our musical culture and I was saddened to learn that it has been put up for sale. Here’s hoping the new owners take up the mantle of Kristine Massari and Enrico Granafei and keep presenting world-class jazz music.

This weekend I’m looking forward to performing again with the legendary pianist/composer and former musical director for Luther Vandross, Nat Adderley Jr. Saturday April 6th at 2 pm at the Montclair Museum of Art.

Sunday, I’ll be in Morristown for the New Jersey Jazz Society 50th Annual Pee Wee Russell Memorial Stomp at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. First I’ll be directing my Jazz House Kids Ambassadors ensemble at noon, then joining Andy Farber and a a great line up of saxophonist for a battle royal at 1:15.

Then Wednesday is my birthday celebration at Small’s Jazz Club in New York City. Smalls is one of the greatest jazz clubs in the world and I’m excited to celebrate with my trio – Ed Howard on bass, and Alvester Garnett on drums plus added guest Julian Lee on Saxophone. Thursday the same band will make it’s way to New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Jazz Project’s Thursday night at the Hyatt. Later this month the Loston Harris Trio begins it’s spring residency at Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. See the full April Calendar here

March and April are decision time and I’m so excited for my students who have successfully auditioned at The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and many other fine institutions. It’s been a banner year for the students of Jazz House Kids!

April Dates Announced!

Spring is here and so is a full Schedule of musical activity. Be sure to check out the frequently updated calendar

APR 6 Sat 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Nat Adderley Jr. – Praise Groove w/Jazz Montclair Art Museum
APR 7 Sun 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm New Jersey Jazz Society 50th Annual Pee Wee Russell Memorial Stomp @ Hyatt Regency
APR 10 Wed 10:30 pm – 1:00 am Smalls Jazz – Mike Lee Birthday Celebration! @ Smalls Jazz Club
APR 11 Thu 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm New Brunswick Jazz Project @ Hyatt Regency
APR 12 Fri Sparta High School Jazz Festival, Adjudicator
APR 13 SatNewark Academy Essentially Ellington Festival Adjudicator
April 14 Sun Montclair State University Combos at Shanghai Jazz Club
APR 18 Thu 9:30 pm – 12:30 am Loston Harris Trio @ Bemelman’s Bar
APR 19 Fri 9:30 pm – 1:00 am Loston Harris Trio @ Bemelman’s Bar
APR 20 Sat 9:30 pm – 1:00 am Loston Harris Trio @ Bemelman’s Bar
APR 22 Mon– String Masterclass and Student performance Jazz House Kids
APR 23 Tue 10:30 pm – 1:00 am Frank Lacy Ensemble @ Smalls
APR 25 Thu 9:30 pm – 12:30 am Loston Harris Trio @ Bemelman’s Bar
APR 26 Fri 9:30 pm – 1:00 am Loston Harris Trio @ Bemelman’s Bar
APR 27 Sat – Frank Lacy Ensemble – time and venue TBA

Dizzy’s Success!

Dizzy’s CD release performance March 25, 2019. Photo: Chris Drukker

Drum icon Lenny White continued his enthusiastic support for this project by playing the music with equal parts nuance and power. Releasing this album on his IYOUWEE label has been a tremendous privilege.
We are in the midst of the radio and media promotion for the album. I couldn’t have asked for a better advocate.

Ed Howard and the Broken String!
Photo: Chris Drukker

Joining me in the front line was my son, and New York saxophonist, Julian Lee. He wasn’t only an extraordinary asset as an intelligent creative artist, but also helped focus me and took the pressure off in many mundane ways. Dizzy’s was Julian’s home for two years when he hosted the late night session there. The people of Dizzy’s, from the administration and mangers, to the servers, bartenders, security personnel are like family to Julian and by extension to me.

With Jacquie
Photo: Chris Drukker

My first gig as a leader at the famed Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is in the books. What a night it was! Playing against a backdrop of Columbus Circle and Central Park with some of my favorite musicians in celebration of my New CD was everything one could ask for. The wonderful fans, family, and students who packed the club to capacity made it even more wonderful.

Lenny White
Photo: Chris Drukker

George Colligan, piano, and Ed Howard, bass, showed why they are two of the most versatile and in demand artists in today’s music scene. The only hitch in the whole evening happened when Ed’s A -string broke on the last note of the first tune. A potentially devastating challenge was instantly solved when the great bassist, Ben Wolfe, who was sitting at the bar offered his bass. After two minutes Ed was back in action. Ben Wolfe to the rescue!

Julian Lee on the front line
Photo: Chris Drukker
Matthew Sits in on “Hey Lock”
Photo: Chris Drukker

Matthew jumped up for the last tune – “Hey Lock” which he also performs on the record. He was swinging away! Look out for Jacquie, too!

MSU students showed up!
Photo: Chris Drukker

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola March 25th! CD Release Show Featuring Lenny White!

I’ve spent a lot of time at Dizzy’s over the last couple of years. Most often I’ve been on my way home from my steady gig at the Carlyle with Loston Harris when I stop into the jam session which was for a long time was hosted by my son, Julian. I have also performed at Dizzy’s with Oliver Lake, Josh Evans, Loston Harris, and even played one week as Julian’s sideman for the late set when he was the late night featured artist. But on March 25th at 9:30 – one set only! – I will be debuting as a leader at the famous Jazz at Lincoln Center night club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-cola in celebration of my new CD “Song For All Of Us” on the IYOUWE record label.

The gig, like the CD, will feature the iconic drummer, Lenny White (Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Chaka Khan), as well as master musicians George Colligan on piano, and Ed Howard on bass. Julian Lee will be joining me in the front line. Please join us for this wonderful evening by reserving tickets here. The video below shows some short snippets from our New Jersey CD release at Clement’s Place last month.

Clips from Feb 23rd 2019 at Clement’s Place in New Jersey

CD Release Clements Place, Featuring Lenny White

Come celebrate the release of Mike Lee’s new album “Song For All Of Us”(Available 2.18.2019 on Iyouwe Music!) at Clements Place on Saturday, February 23rd Set 1 at 7:30 and Set 2 at 9:15 p.m with a stellar line-up of A-List musicians!

The event is FREE but reservations are required:

Reservations for set 1 (7:30pm)

Reservations for set 2 (9:15pm)

Mike Lee – tenor Saxophone  www.mikeleejazz.com

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, saxophonist Mike Lee has established himself in the New York City/Northern New Jersey area for many years. He balances a thriving performing career with a distinguished teaching resume. He performs regularly in New York City as a member of a wide array of jazz ensembles. His current associations include The Jimmy Heath Orchestra, The Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, Wallace Roney’s Universe Orchestra, The Oliver Lake Big Band, The Loston Harris Trio, The Nat Adderley Jr. Quartet, Josh Evans Big Band, Dave Stryker, Frank Lacy, TS Monk, and The Roy Hargrove Big Band. He performs regularly at venues such as The Bluenote, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls, The Jazz Gallery, Fat Cat, and Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. Recent tours have taken him up and down the East Coast, to California and Beijing, China. Lee has presented clinics and workshops throughout the country. Mr. Lee is endorsed by Conn-Selmer saxophones and Vandoren mouthpieces/reeds.

For Mike’s Clement’s Place “Song For All Of Us” debut, he brings his band that includes

  • Lennie White on drums,
  • Dave Stryker on Guitar,
  • Bruce Williams on Sax,
  • Ed Howard on bass
Btruce Williams Sax
  • Bruce Williams – alto saxophone Bruce Williams Bruce Williams is a powerful young jazz saxophonist who hails from our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. He has made his presence known on the jazz scene by garnering critical attention with his own enthusiastically received CD releases. The Bard College and Juilliard Jazz professor has graced the horn sections of The World Saxophone Quartet, Roy Hargrove’s Big Band, The Count Basie Orchestra and groups led by Stanley Cowell, Buster Williams, Steve Turre and Little Jimmy Scott.
Dave Stryker
  • Dave Stryker – – guitar – is an American jazz guitarist. He has recorded over twenty-five albums as a leader and has been a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and Kevin Mahogany. Gary Giddins in the Village Voice calls him “one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.” He was voted in once again this year to the Downbeat Critics and Readers Poll.
  • Ed Howard – bass: A New Yorker, Ed Howard joined forces with the brilliant drummer Roy Haynes in the early ’80s and has been featured on three discs created by the Haynes group, including the 1992 Homecoming. Clifford Jordan is a tenor saxophonist who many modern jazz fans will associate with the intense bass playing of bandleader and composer Charlie Mingus. Howard, undoubtedly influenced by the latter master as would be any jazz bassist, also cites Jordan himself as a major teacher. Howard played in Jordan’s own quartet from 1983 through 1992. It was in this context that the bassist had his first chance to record, a session that also featured pianist Jaki Byard, yet another of the major Mingus alumni. A contrasting collaboration for the bassist has been his work with an ensemble led by Gary Thomas, 7th Quadrant.
  • Lenny White – drums – Lenny White – drums Leonard White III born in New York City, a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey is a three-time Grammy Award-winning American jazz fusion drummer. White earned a worldwide reputation as the drummer in the supergroup Return to Forever, best known as “one of the founding fathers of the musical movement known as “fusion,” and Chick Corea’s Return to Forever Band. He has played on two of the most important “fusion” records ever made, Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay.”

Join us for an exciting and inspiring evening of “Song For All Of Us”!
Complimentary Refreshments and No Cover
Free and open to the public RSVP a Must.

Sat, February 23, 2019
Sets at 7:30 and 9:15pm

Location:
Clement’s Place Jazz
15 Washington Place
Newark, NJ 07102

Loston Harris/Bemelman’s Bar – Sideman notes vol 2

Loston Harris

For the past six years I’ve been playing regularly in the Loston Harris Trio. I started subbing in the band at Bemelman’s bar at the Carlyle Hotel and then doing most of the band’s road work and finally becoming the regular saxophonist about three years ago. I’m surprised that even though I play about 80 gigs a year with Loston,many people with whom I interact often aren’t aware of this trio or our regular venue – Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Here’s the low-down:

Loston is brilliant. As a pianist he is exceptional – Early in his career he toured and recorded with Wynton Marsalis. On our instrumental selections he plays with fire and technical facility that would rival any pianist. As a vocalist he is sublime with a deep affinity for Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. He deals with the nuance of lyrics and standard repertoire with a professionalism and ease that makes him one of the brightest stars of jazz and the American Songbook.

Loston Harris Trio at Bemelman’s

The gig at Bemelman’s Bar is magical. Named in honor of Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books, the club features his artwork on the walls and even on the lampshades at your table.   We play jazz. We play some instrumental tunes every set from Thelonious Monk, Benny Golson, Dave Brubeck and many others. The vocal selections also can have long solo sections where we stretch and “work it out” on the gig. We’re set up in the middle of the room where we are part of the crowd. The crowd is part of the atmosphere. Movie stars, musical celebrities, political figures show up with great regularity. By no stretch is this a “listening” room, but every night we “win” the room by turning the boisterous crowd into an appreciative audience. It feels like a throwback to the 1930’s with an adoring crowd cheering, shouting, and having great merriment.

This is a musically demanding situation. I’ve learned more from this gig than any other gig or situation in my life. Playing night after night, learning the ins and outs of so much amazing repertoire with two inventive intelligent, enthusiastic band mates (the great Gianluca Renzi plays bass!) has caused me to dig deeper and hear more music than I ever thought I would at this advanced stage of my career. There is no teacher like a nightly gig. Playing at Bemelman’s 3, 4, or 5 nights a week for two and a half months twice a year has been a revelation.

It’s not cheap. There is a $25 cover weeknights and $35 on the weekends ($15 at the bar) and the drinks are expensive. But I feel every music fan needs to see this place at least once to see music in close proximity to a real engaged crowd.

Dave Stryker – Sideman Notes Vol. I

This is the first in what will be a series of articles about some of the amazing musicians I work with.

Dave Stryker Photo

Dave Stryker

Guitarist Dave Stryker has built an exceptional career as a performer and band leader by presenting music which grooves hard and emphasizes melody while simultaneously evoking the most virtuosic qualities of jazz. He brings in listeners to our world who might not otherwise listen to this music but at the same time wows and entertains the most serious jazz devotees. His career has blossomed in the last few years because of his music’s exceptional quality and his unwavering work ethic. He has worked with everyone from Jack MacDuff to Kevin Mahogany and through his extended tenure with the great Stanley Turrentine, has performed with luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard.
Dave has been so important in my recent musical development and success, I’m writing this post in part to highlight our upcoming gig at Nighttown in Cleveland as well as presenting a public “thank you” to Dave for all his efforts on my behalf.
I first met Dave in about 1984 when I arrived in New York City. He was already off and running on a great career. We played together in some informal settings in and around Brooklyn and I looked up to him as an already established player. We reconnected in Jersey in the early 2000’s through some educational programs, including Jazz Connections and Jazz House Kids. We were also regulars on the Cecil’s Jazz Club scene in West Orange sitting in and performing together in a variety of situations.

When Cecil’s closed in 2012, Dave was proactive about finding another venue and connected me with another local club where I was able to start my weekly jam session. Dave still plays with us on Wednesday nights on the rare occasion that he is in town and available. This session has been a launching point for my musical vision and a meeting place for the great North Jersey musicians. We are currently hosted by SuzyQue’s in West Orange.
Shortly after that, the position of Adjunct Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Montclair State University opened up and Dave was instrumental in recommending me for that position. I’ve just started my 6th year at this wonderful program.
The following year, Dave asked me to help him program music for the album he recorded as a tribute to master saxophonist Stanley Turrentine entitled “Messin’ With Mr. T“. I played many rehearsals and helped with arrangements and copy work. For the date, Dave hired 10 different tenor players to each play one of ten tunes associated with the great Stanley T. To say I was (and still am!) honored to be part of a lineup that included Houston Person, Jimmy Heath, Chris Potter, Eric Alexander, Bob Mintzer and Javon Jackson would be a massive understatement.
I continue to play with Dave in a number of settings. He recorded with me last fall for my upcoming release “Song For All of Us” and I play in his group from time to time. Next Friday, October 5th, 2018. We’ll be returning to my hometown club Nighttown in Cleveland Heights, OH. We’ll be joined by the great Ohio musicians, Bobby Floyd on Organ and Reggie Jackson on Drums. We’re going to play some great tunes from Dave’s “8-Track” CDs and other favorites. Hope to see you all there! Click here for tickets. 

Dave Stryker Poster - Click To Buy Tickets