A provocative blend of innocence and sophistication — that’s Jennifer Lee. While presenting herself with great style and class, Jennifer maintains a warm and unpretentious demeanor which enables her to connect deeply with her audience. "Connection is what it’s all about," says Jennifer. "Connection with my band and connection with the listener. That’s what creates the magic. The deeper the connection, the more magical the experience for everyone involved." And connect she does, with sincerity and a perpetual sense of wonder.
Rooted in the straight-ahead jazz tradition, this San Francisco Bay Area-based vocalist/pianist/guitarist has developed a style all her own. With her warm, lovely voice, extraordinary musicality and hip sense of time, Jennifer brings each song uniquely to life. On an up-tempo tune, she really swings. On a ballad, she sings with a depth of emotion that pays homage to the music and the lyric. Whether on guitar or piano, Jennifer accompanies herself with a simple elegance and sweetness, while maintaining a deep and thrilling in-the-pocket groove. “Lee knows how to drop a jaw with her rhythm ease on guitar,” says Jean Bartlett of the Pacifica Tribune.
In addition to her love of straight-ahead jazz, Jennifer has a strong affinity for the music of Brazil. When she sings bossa nova and samba (in Portuguese with a near-perfect Brazilian accent) and accompanies herself on guitar, you can almost feel the warm sands of Ipanema beneath your feet. With her band Doce Brazil, Jennifer has been featured at the SFJazz Summerfest and has played to sold out concert venues throughout the Bay Area. Her straight-ahead quartet has been featured in the San Jose Jazz Society summer concert series.
Jennifer discovered her passion for music as a child, playing piano and guitar. She was the pianist in her college jazz band and accompanied other singers before realizing her own gift for vocal interpretation. Her extensive experience as an instrumentalist affords Jennifer a thorough understanding of the harmonic intricacies of the music she sings. This knowledge, along with her natural aptitude for musical expression, make for a remarkable talent.
Jennifer’s newest recording, Quiet Joy, recorded at Spragueland Studios in Encinitas, California, features Jennifer on all three of her primary instruments – vocals, guitar and piano… as well as on finger snaps, bells and wind chimes. This disc is an exciting mix of originals, standards and Brazilian songs. Jennifer’s superb arrangements here are interesting and unique, but never gratuitously so – always musical and always in the service of heartfelt expression. Drummer / Grammy-nominated producer Bud Spangler says of Quiet Joy, “It’s a joy from start to finish… Nothing but praise and respect for Jennifer Lee and her cohorts on Quiet Joy. Excellent work by all involved.”
Jaywalkin’, also recorded at Spragueland Studios and released in 2003, was Jennifer’s debut release as featured vocalist. While incorporating many elements of straight-ahead jazz, this recording takes several wide steps outside of that realm. The collection includes Brazilian songs, originals, a heavily funkified arrangement of Frank Loesser’s “The Inchworm” and a spoken-word piece, among other things. Dan McClenaghan of All About Jazz called Jaywalkin’ “The finest debut of the year, big label or small.”
Both Quiet Joy and Jaywalkin’ are collaborations with San Diego-based guitarist Peter Sprague, Jennifer’s co-arranger/co-producer and founder of SBE Records, the label on which these recordings are released. Peter is the winner of numerous San Diego music awards; he’s performed with such players as Chick Corea, Eddie Harris, Dori Caymmi and Al Jarreau. In 2008, Peter joined 4-time grammy winning vocalist Dianne Reeves on her US and European tours.
Jennifer’s first released recordings were part of a compilation entitled Quint-Essential, a collection that is unique in both content and form. "Five wonderfully unique, distinctive voices. Fifteen marvelous songs. One remarkable CD," says Wayne Saroyan of JazzWest. "These five women have crafted a singular work of music that celebrates the intrinsic beauty of each song, transcending the familiar and illuminating the sublime. A quintessential CD for lovers of jazz."