Gordon Lee

This Path

oa2 22076

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MUSIC REVIEW BY David Franklin, Cadence

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Gordon Lee - pianist, composer, arranger, and educator - actively pursues each of his roles in the Portland, Oregon area, the home of all the performers on his latest CD. On the present recording, he alternates between two bass and drums combinations (Dave Captein and Carlton Jackson or Kevin Deitz and Ron Steen) on all tracks but Ernesto Lecuona's Spanish flavored "Andalucia" (the basis for the popular song "The Breeze and I"). There, his only accompaniment is the cajon, a type of drum played by the Afro-Cuban percussionist Miguel Bernal. Lee's music is highly structured, with, for example, pre-determined bass lines common. Indeed, it often challenges the listener to distinguish between composition and improvisation, with the brief unaccompanied "Cadenza" sounding like a fullycomposed classical piano piece. The rest of the program ranges in style from Lee's take on a Chinese folk song to his personalized adaptation of Lee Morgan's funky "Cornbread," and includes along the way Native American saxophonist Jim Pepper's dramatic "Lakota Song," Jobim's lovely bossa nova "Portrait in Black and White," a couple of blues tunes, and a spoof on "Cherokee" he calls "Sitting Bull's Revenge." Lee's fresh-sounding versions of these pieces and the remainder of the twelve tracks are harmonically sophisticated and attention-grabbing. Each of the ensembles works cohesively. Both bass/drums pairings provide exceptional, rhythmically secure accompaniment for the leader, and both bassists offer accomplished improvised solos of their own. Lee's own inventive, often virtuosic, improvisations are uniquely his own, as he eschews the bop-derived figures common among many trio pianists.






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