Chris Lee – Drums/Percussion Kit/Vibes/Marimba
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Chris began playing the piano at the age of seven and moved on to the drums while in grade school. By the time he was twelve he was playing school dances in a band with his older brother on guitar covering Hendrix and various Blues and R&B artists. While in high school his musical interests broadened into jazz and classical music.
Chris studied rudimental snare drum technique, and mallet percussion with Leo Browne and tympani with Paul Salvatore of the Oregon Symphony and joined the Portland Youth Philharmonic. He also began studying with jazz and Motown drummer Mel Brown (The Temptations and The Supremes) and later jazz vibes with Dennis Plies. At the age of 16, Chris began performing professionally and soon was playing with such notable Portland jazz musicians as David Friesen, Leroy Vinnegar, Jim Pepper and Nancy King. Chris studied theory and composition at Marylhurst College and Portland State University, where he was a member of the percussion ensemble under the direction of Tomas Svoboda. He also attended Ornette Coleman’s Creative Music Studio, where he studied drums with Jack DeJohnette and vibes with Karl Berger and at the Cornish Institute with Sam Rivers and Dave Holland.
In addition to numerous recordings as a sideman, Chris has produced two quintet recordings; Silent Talk which features ECM recording artist Art Lande and Something Forgotten, Remembered which also features multi-instrumentalist Paul McCandless of the group Oregon. In 1989 Lee (primarily on vibes) and his wife Colleen O’Brien (voice, cello) joined with guitarist Khabu Doug Young to form the eclectic chamber jazz group Primal Mates, which has also produced three recordings; Primal Mates, Duo/Trio and Songs. Lee and O’Brien continue to tour and perform as Primal Mates. Chris has performed at jazz festivals in the U.S., Europe and Mexico and has worked with such diverse artists as Joe Henderson, David “Fathead” Newman, Mose Allison, Gary Peacock, Sheila Jordan, Ernie Watts, John Handy, Fred Hersch, Ngyuen Le, Gary Versace, Leni Stern and others. Locally, he performs with Pat Bianchi, Dale Bruning, Dave Corbus, Eric Deutsch, Mark Diamond, Greg Gisbert, Eric Gunnison, Jeff Jenkins, Ron Miles, Peter Sommer, Ken Walker and others. As a teacher, Chris has over twenty-five years of experience having taught privately and on the faculty of the University of Oregon, Lewis & Clark College, and Naropa University as well as numerous master classes at many colleges and universities.