Ms Lee has produced a record that is certainly unlike any you are likely to come across in the jazz mainstream. Her personal approach would seem to represent a mix of both worded and wordless vocals, a personal form of scat and rap.
In complete contrast to her vocals, which take up most of the time on this CD, she is a tidy bop pianist and I would have liked to have heard more of her keyboard work. The opening title track features saxophone, bass and piano solos along with wordless rap-type vocals. The band accompanying her are very good – Mulholland provides stimulating alto sax and flute solos and he also plays clarinet occasionally. Bass and drums are strong and frequently link up with Ms Lee to form a driving bop-style unit.
X-Berg is fragmented and rather disjointed with more word and wordless vocal stylings and sturdy accompaniment from the rhythm section and Mulholland’s clarinet. It is certainly different and personal to Ms Lee but whether it will appeal to jazz buffs is open to question. Had she included a couple of songs familiar to listeners it might have given a better indication of how well her unique approach to singing fits in. Her original tunes are rather similar and I kept thinking I was hearing the same song over and over again.
On Get Off Me Mulholland plays a free-style alto and the vocalist returns to more conventional word-based singing. On the press release her CD is described as having her pursue “a wild goose chase to find her own voice”. Describing her music in terms of wild geese chasing is certainly quite apt although I doubt if it does her any favours selling the disc to jazz enthusiasts.
Peaks And Valleys is an attractive ballad line which features a strong flute solo from the reed player. Ms Lee sings scat and then plays a tasty solo on the Rhodes, electricity crackling merrily. She is very well supported all through by this very accomplished band. Tomorrow Is Coming is a free-style piece with interesting piano and flute stylings but, again, the vocal is wild and disjointed. Free jazz on steroids? It may not still be possible but if it is I would recommend hearing some of this music before deciding on purchase.
Windowsill; X-Berg; Get Off Me; Peaks And Valleys; Tomorrow Is Coming; So Long; Back; She Who Journeys (48.59)
Lee (v, p, elp); Brad Mulholland (as, cl, f); Marcos Varela (b); Andy O’Neil (d). Brooklyn, NYC, no dates listed.