John Lee, Bassist, composer, educator and producer, John Lee is Co Founder of Jazz Legacy Productions, is the executive director of the Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Stars and All-Stars Big Band with whom he performs regularly.
The son of an A.M.E. minister, John’s earliest musical impressions were formed in church and from listening to his father’s extensive jazz collection. In 1970, after graduating from high school in Philadelphia, he enrolled at the Philadelphia Musical Academy (now the University of the Arts). During this period he began performing in New York City, and touring the United States with the bands of Carlos Garnett, Joe Henderson and Pharaoh Sanders. In 1972, John was hired as bassist for the Max Roach Quartet. Later that year he moved to Europe and stayed for two years. During this time abroad, he worked and recorded with Gary Bartz, Philip Catherine, Joe Henderson, Chris Hinze, Jasper Van’T Hof, Joachim Kuhn, Charlie Mariano and Toots Thielemans. With drummer Gerry Brown he recorded his first solo effort entitled “Infinite Jones” for the Keytone label, which has been re-released as “Bamboo Madness” on the Limetree label. After returning to the United States in 1974, John worked with the bands of Norman Connors, Gil Evans, Joe Henderson and Lonnie Liston Smith.
In 1975, he joined Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House while also forming his own band with drummer Gerry Brown. Together they recorded two albums for Blue Note Records, “Mango Sunrise” & “ Still Can’t Say Enough”; two for Columbia Records, “Medusa” & “Chaser”; and one for Mood Records called “Brothers”. The long personal and professional association that ensued was to be a turning point in Lee’s career. From 1984 until Dizzy died in 1993, John was the bassist in the trumpet master’s various bands including the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, the 70th Anniversary Big Band and the United Nation Orchestra. After Dizzy’s passing, the family asked John to create an ongoing tribute to the legendary man and his music—and the concept for the Dizzy Gillespie™Alumni All-Stars was born. John has personally engineers many of the projects produced by his company and has worked with a select group of clients including Nat Adderley Jr., Don Braden, Cecil Brooks III, Roberta Gambarini, Roy Hargrove, Hank Jones, Bill Kirchner, Mack Avenue Records, Benny Powell, and CD101.9. His production credits include CDs for the Fantasy Band, the Heath Brothers, Cyrus Chestnut, Larry Coryell, Steve Davis, Carlos Garnett, Slide Hampton, Jon Lucien, One for All, Claudio Roditi, Saundra Santiago, Art Webb, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.