New Tricks is a band that started in the basement of co-leader and saxophonist Mike Lee. What started as casual weekly jam sessions quickly became a tightly knit ensemble with an identifiable sound and singularity of purpose. Featuring original compositions by Lee and co-leader, Ted Chubb, the band is firmly steeped in the jazz tradition while pushing the boundaries rhythmically and harmonically. The instrumentation of trumpet, tenor saxophone, bass and drums allows much room for experimentation unhindered by a chordal voice such as piano or guitar.
In addition to Lee on tenor and Chubb on trumpet, New Tricks features the stellar rhythm section of Kellen Harrison on bass and Shawn Baltazor on drums. These young musicians are known for their compelling groove as individuals and when working together.
The name “New Tricks” was first used by Lee to describe the band for a booking at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ in 2006. It’s original meaning was more about the rhythmic and harmonic devices the band employed, but soon the banter on the gig was about Lee’s somewhat more (ahem…) “veteran” status. So, the “New Tricks” had their “Old Dog” and the name stuck.
This summer (2009) New Tricks has released their first, self-titled CD. It features four Ted Chubb Originals, six tunes by Mike Lee and Charlie Parker’s Ah-Leu-Cha. Their CD release tour was a great success musically and created a bit of “buzz” about the band with feature stories, interviews and reviews from many sources.
Mike Lee's musical career has taken him many places in the world and
musically. From the mid to late 80's he resided in Brooklyn, New York where
developed his musical ideas with many associates and mentors. This period
of creative inspiration was high-lighted by his lessons with Joe Lovano and
his musical collaborations with his then roommate, Dave Douglas.
Inspired by the wealth of information these associations gave him, he
returned to Cleveland to assimilate this material. This was a productive
time musically. Along with constant practicing this period was punctuated
by gigs with Marcus Belgrave, Bobby Watson, Geri Allen, Joe Lovano,Rosemary
Clooney, Marlon Jordan, Johnny Coles and touring as a member of the Woody
Herman's Thundering Herd.
In 1993 Lee resumed residency in New York City and flourished on the the
jazz scene playing on numerous occasions with The Village Vanguard
Orchestra (Formerly The Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra) the Maria
Schneider Orchestra (with whom he was featured in Maria's CNN profile) and
the Bill Mobley Big Band with which he performed and recorded along side
acclaimed pianists James Williams, Harold Mabern and Mulgrew Miller. He has
appeared around town with small groups which include New York musicians
such as guitarists John Hart and Ron Affif, bassist Ron McClure, and
drummer Elliot Zigmund.
Two of Mike's compositions were selected among the top five in the 1997
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and BMI International Jazz Composers
Competition. He was a member of Joe Lovano's "Celebrating Sinatra" touring
ensemble. His critically acclaimed CD, Above the Battleground, Consolidated
Artists Productions (CAP), featuring Tim Hagans on trumpet, Tim Horner on
drums, Matt Ray on piano and Ben Allison on bass was released in 1998. My
Backyard (Omnitone) released in 2000. Both albums received very high praise
from trade publications.
In the 90s Mike became a very in demand Jazz Educator and guest soloist. He
toured the United States and Europe for several years performing with local
rhythm sections and presenting clinics at many universities and schools.
The past few years have found Mike on the road less often while raising a
family and digging deep roots in the Northern New Jersey jazz community.
His musical associations have flourished while interacting with other jazz
musicians residing in the area. Musical encounters with Bruce Williams,
Cecil Brooks III, T.S. Monk, Billy Hart, Andy McKee, Geri Allen and
Christian McBride have made this an extraordinary period in his musical
Originally from Ashtabula Ohio, Ted grew up in a household surrounded by
music. He began playing the trumpet at the age of 10 but did not become
serious about his instrument until his discovery of jazz at 15. Ted's
passion for jazz led him to pursue music at the Ohio State University.
During this time Ted became involved in the professional jazz scene and
performed with Midwest jazz legends Gene Walker and Bobby Floyd. He also
toured regionally and abroad with the Afro-Rican ensemble. In 2003, Ted
enrolled in the graduate program at Rutgers University in New Jersey to
study with master trumpet teacher William Fielder. While at school Ted
became involved in the NYC jazz scene playing with artists such as Cecil
Brooks III, Bruce Williams, Brad Leali, Ralph Bowen, Kyle Kohler, Billy
Hart, Alvester Garnet, Kenny Davis, and The Joe Elephante Big Band. Ted has
appeared at jazz festivals across the globe in Austria, Switzerland,
France, and St. Lucia. In 2006 Ted was a participant in The Betty Carter
Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center. He is currently freelancing in
NYC and focusing on his own projects. Ted is an active educator and teaches
private lessons, ensembles, and workshops. He is on faculty at the
Montclair State University Jazz Connections workshop each August. Ted
recently finshed recording the first cd for his chordless quartet project
"New Tricks", which he coleads with saxophonist Mike Lee. In 2007 Ted is on
tour with the First National Tour of the Tony award winning broadway show
Bassist Kellen Harrison has been rising on the New York music scene since
transplanting from California a few years ago. He plays a diverse variety
of music, and can be seen playing regularly at venues such as the Blue
Note, Smalls, S.O.B.’s, the Mercury Lounge, Cornelia St. Café, and
NJPAC, and at major cities across the U.S. with artists such as Lenny
Pickett, Bernard Purdie, Bruce Williams, and Jupiter One.
Drummer/ Composer Shawn Baltazor has proven himself to be one of the most
in demand young players on the jazz scene on both the east and west coasts.
He attended the renowned Jazz studies program at William Paterson
University where he was featured in performance with Wynton Marsalis, Clark
Terry, Joe Lovano, Kenny Garrett and Slide Hampton. After graduating with a
B.M. Summa Cum Laude from WPU, Baltazor settled in New York City, to
actively pursue his performance career.
He has studied with numerous notable musicians, including Peter Jarvis,
Kevin Norton, Kenny Washington, Bill Goodwin, and Dan Weiss. Baltazor has
performed internationally at the Festival International des Musiques Noires
d’Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, the Jazzablanca Festival in Morocco and the
Risonanze Festival at the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove in Venice, Italy. He has
performed more locally at the JVC Jazz Festival, and the River to River
Festival as well as other NY venues including: Jazz at Lincoln Center's
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, BB King’s, the Tribeca Performing Arts Center,
PNC Arts Center (NJ), the South Street Seaport, Sweet Rhythm, 55 Bar,
CBGB’s, the Knitting Factory, and the Bitter End.
In 2004, he was invited to attend the Staens Institute for Young Artists
where he worked with Danilo Perez, Rufus Reid, James Moody, and Dr. David
Baker. There he performed at the 100th anniversary of the Ravinia Festival
In December 2008, Baltazor was commissioned to compose the music for a new
production called Timebomb by the New York City-based Daniel Gwirtzman
Shawn Baltazor currently resides in New York City, where he actively plays
and tours with a wide range of musical groups including Eric Reed, Ergo,
the Nathan Eklund Group, Adam Gilbert, The Hangmen, Kilterclash and Rebecca