Excerpted from Jazziz September 1999
Scott Lee’s With Ease (Cathexis) thrives in a climate that’s both circumspect and precise. The combination is fruitful, creating cool. The bassist works with Joe Lovano now and again, and the balance Lee brings to his debut echoes the reed player’s feisty decorum – even the most expressionistic moments are treated with meticulousness. Ultimately, it gives the music a modern classical fair. These kind of maneuvers require discerning musicians. With saxophonist Billy Drewes, pianist Russ Lossing, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield in tow, Lee is ready. Lossing, in particular, knows the value of sound. A cagey improviser, he spends part of his time in a band that takes Bartok’s texts as a starting point for graceful adventures. Like Drewes, he has a way of sounding animated while maintaining an almost noble poise.
The title cut is a ballad that tiptoes through the shadows. “Night Suite” is stormier, but still well-gauged. And the rumination that that blossoms out of “Balladina” manages some lighthearted emotions. Lee integrates the ensemble pieces with a handful of solo-bass passages. Some are nuggets of mood, a chance for the improviser to revel in his instrument’s rich texture. In a piece dedicated to clarinetist Andy Statman, his judicious lines resound. A bass and tenor duet cements the records feel. Here’s a mainstream ensemble that achieves distinction by building a chamber atmosphere.
Excerpted from the Bass Notes column, Bass Player Magazine April 2000
Increasingly, jazz bassists such as Mark Dresser, Mark Helias, Steve LaSpina, and Ed Schuller are composing and creating group styles as leaders. The latest is Scott Lee, whose solo debut With Ease showcases his ensemble concept. Says Lee, "I want to explore the role of the individual and the group - how does the bass player assert himself, break restrictions? I want everyone interacting all the time - a swirl of events."
An inventive soloist, Lee possesses an attractive, medium-size pizzicato timbre and a refined, sonorous arco sound. Throughout With Ease, which features saxman Billy Drewes, pianist Russ Lossing, and drummer Jeff Hershfield, Lee's lines are marked by thoughtfulness and grace.
His work ranges from the C-pedal based "In the Brightness" and the two-note foundation of "Night Suite" to unaccompanied free arco on "Solo Bass for Andy Statman." Scott exploits harmonics on "In the Brightness" and "Blue Eyes." "Sometimes bassists overlook harmonics as a textural element. And there are melodic possibilities."
[With Ease] in large part grew out of his work with Drewes, pianist Kenny Werner, and drummer Jamie Haddad in the experimental group A-Bla-Du. "I like situations where the whole range of bass is explored, not just the traditional walking accompanist's function," notes Scott. "I like to be integrated into the whole of the music.""Scott Lee - Set & Match" by by Harvey Pekar