Jennifer Lee

Instrument: Vocalist | Location: Oakland

Updated: July 13, 2018

Born: August 6, 1964

Nine years is a long time between albums, but Jennifer Lee has been busy taking her music into rarely explored emotional terrain. My Shining Hour, the third album by the esteemed Bay Area jazz vocalist, guitarist, and pianist, reintroduces an artist long known as a gifted interpreter of the American and Brazilian Songbooks. But with her ensemble the Ever-Expanding Universe and a stellar cast of special guests, including trumpet legend Randy Brecker, bass master Bob Magnusson, Grammy Award-winning violinist Mads Tolling, and percussion maestro John Santos, Lee has emerged as a songwriter with an unusual gift for evoking uncanny experiences, hard-won wisdom, unbridled joy, and liminal states of consciousness.

Her evolution from her former creative identity as an arranger/interpreter to her present calling as a composer took Lee by surprise. “I always wrote a little bit, but I certainly never thought of myself as a songwriter,” she says. “Then a shift happened and all this music started channeling in. It’s like some crazy, overactive muse attached itself to me.”

While My Shining Hour marks a sea change for Lee, she’s still swimming with longtime collaborators, which is one reason why her music sounds so finely wrought and fully formed. Like on her previous, critically-hailed albums, 2003’s Jaywalkin’ and 2009’s Quiet Joy (both on Peter Sprague’s label SBE Records), Lee draws on two deep pools of talent from San Diego and the Bay Area. The line of continuity runs through Peter Sprague, the brilliant San Diego guitarist known for his extensive work with Chick Corea, Charles McPherson, and Hubert Laws. For Lee, the collaboration has provided, among many other things, an education. “Peter is an extraordinary musician and a deeply soulful player,” she says. “Working with him over the years, watching how he’ll reharmonize or phrase a line, I’ve learned so much. It’s definitely influenced my writing.”

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“What grabs you about Jennifer Lee's artistic approach is her self-assured genuineness.” Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“There are flocks of jazz singers active in North America and elsewhere, but only a rare few possess the artistic gift enabling them to go beyond matter-of-fact entertainment and make the listener feel a mind and a heart at work. San Francisco Bay Area resident Jennifer Lee is such a singer.” Frank Hadley, Downbeat Magazine

“Lee's enunciation is diamond-clear, whether rendering Cole Porter's English or Antonio Carlos Jobim's Portuguese.” Lee Hildebrand, San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Lee has a special awareness of melody, and her imaginative depth seems bottomless.” Frank Hadley, Downbeat Magazine

“Lee started her Saturday night concert at the Sanchez Concert Hall in a crowd full of strangers and ended her encore in a room full of smiles.” Jean Bartlett, Pacifica Tribune

“Her complete vocal control is part of her appeal; a control that doesn't lend a constrained or stiff feeling to her music, but rather gives it the firm clarity of someone who knows exactly what they're doing.” Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“Lee is not just a good singer, but an engaging performer as well

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Primary Instrument

Vocalist

Location

Oakland

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced

Contact

Publicist

Terri Hinte

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Recordings