Robert Lee

Robert Lee is an emerging upright bassist, composer, and bandleader in the Toronto jazz scene. His musical interest started with the violin before switching to the bass. He is a graduate from the University of Guelph and Humber College music programs. He obtained his Masters in Contemporary Performance from Berklee Valencia in 2021. Lee has had the opportunity to study and perform with Neil Swainson, Ted Quinlan, Allison Au, Mike Downes, Geoff Young, Lorne Lofsky, Kieran Overs, Pat LaBarbera, Kirk MacDonald, Andrew Scott, Kevin Turcotte, Amanda Tosoff, Andrew McAnsh, Nick Mancini (Los Angeles), Perico Sambeat, Matt Baker, Magda Giannikou, and others.

He has performed at various venues and festivals across Ontario and internationally, including the Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival, the Guelph Jazz Festival, the Newmarket Music Festival, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, Toronto Fringe Festival, Jimmy Glass Off Festival, MusicFest Canada, and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival (2023)

He has been recognized for his work in composition and arranging, earning the Humber College Duke Ellington Society Scholarship in 2017 and 2018 as well as the James Appel School Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship in 2018. In 2018 he had the opportunity to work with the Artist-in-Residence at Humber College Pat Metheny, arranging the composition “Then and Now” for the Humber Studio Band and performing with the Ted Quinlan Pat Metheny Tribute Ensemble for the Artist-in-Residence Showcase concert. He has also been commissioned by the York Region Chamber Music Society to compose an original piece for the Hogtown Brass Quintet, entitled “Castle in the Sky” which premiered at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts in 2019.

Robert in 2017 participated in the Spectrum Music New Voices Composers Residency. He attended the Keep an Eye Summer Jazz Workshop at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 2018, studying under the likes of John Riley, Jay Anderson, Jesse Van Ruller, Frans van der Hoeven, and Dick Oats. He has also been featured on Jazzology with Heather Bambrick on JazzFm91 in 2018.

The Robert Lee Group is a unique project consisting of original compositions inspired by Korean folk stories and poetry, spanning various fantasy and romantic narratives. The project aims to develop an artistic identity founded in the emotional provocation of jazz and improvised music while exploring and implementing new musical genres into one cohesive creative theatre.

“I do not want to be perceived as a traditional jazz artist, but rather as a unique composer who values creativity over popularity. As I progress on my artistic journey, the collaborative spirit of my life-long influences will become more seamless and natural. I will grow closer to a defining equilibrium, the most organic combination, where my sound is more distinguished, personal, and interesting. For me, my compositions are more than just expressions, they are explorations, and they can help me find the best roads to define that musical character that is uniquely Robert Lee.”

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