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.”
The three musicians sustain their empathy throughout all of their explorations of these richly coordinated and melodic pieces and the improvisations are perceptive and incisive.
The restless intelligence that informs this fine record only whets the appetite for the next.
Each track lives in its own mood and emotional universe, connected together by the band itself. There is always an inner intensity present, along with a seriousness of purpose which draws one in, demanding one’s attention.
From Scott’s opening statement until the final note, it is pure music with all the mystery and magic life has to offer.
Scott is a musician’s musician – he has power, style, wit and originality, and is one of the preeminent creative bassist of his generation.
A chamber vibe flecks the bassist’s new music.
A fluent improviser, he deals in delicacy and depth searching for a spot where the flutter is not only aggressive but pastoral, too.
An inventive soloist, Lee possesses an attractive, medium-sized pizzicato timbre and a refined, sonorous arco sound, His lines are marked by thoughtfulness and grace.
Lee is a fluent improviser – he deals with delicassy and depth.
Highly versatile and sought-after sideman.
Scott has a coolly kicking bass attack and a thick tone.
Lee has a unique ability to transform jazz to yet another level of excellence.
Lee’s well-recorded and attention-focusing bass consistently centers the performances, repeatedly pulling the rhythms back into position…
Scott Lee is an extremely melodic bass player, playing lithe and leaping lines which, although they are in the background, complement both the soloists and the drumming.