WASH June 2013 : Page 50

50 | the RADAR | music stringing it out DC guitarist John Lee, who has performed at new York’s Lincoln Center with the great Cyro Baptista, plays jazz, Moroccan folk and cowboy surf rock. Guitar Hero Listen to DC’s jazz virtuoso—a man who could very well create your summer soundtrack. | By Jeff Dufour | Photography by Ben Tankersley | Styling by Alison Beshai | Thanks to a few well-defined genres—jazz from Duke Ellington, alt-rock fusion from Fugazi and, of course, go-go from Chuck Brown—DC has made its name as a music town. But, lately, DC has become an incubator for new sounds yet again. And if there’s an artist who represents this resurgence, it’s John Lee, a guitarist who has absorbed a range of influences to produce music that should weave its way into your road-trip playlist. The local virtuoso has studied free jazz extensively and steeped himself in everything from Jerry Garcia to Moroccan folk music. Lately, it’s been surf rock and the spaghetti Western movie scores of Ennio Morricone that have caught his attention. Those diverse interests, and the versatility it’s created in his playing, have led him to gigs playing alongside reggae artist Matisyahu and legendary Brazilian jazz percussionist Cyro Baptista—at New York’s Lincoln Center, no less. “Cyro has taken me many wonderful places musically and geographically,” Lee says. “We went to Portugal a few years ago, and, most recently, we toured Brazil. The Lincoln Center show was very intense. I really enjoy playing with him.” Recalling his time playing with Baptista, Lee was struck by the complexity of the arrangements, which influences the sound of his new EP, The Nature Series . “I wrote the first song with a simple melody,” he remembers, and it all flowed from there. Meanwhile, the guitar sounds are laden with reverb and tremolo, like something out of Django Unchained . “My music before was kind of scattered all over the place,” he says. “This… all goes together.” But, through it all, you hear the experimental strain of jazz that Lee has honed after years in the clubs of U Street and Adams Morgan (he plays at JoJo on U Street every Tuesday when he’s not touring). While he says it can be tough for musicians to build a following in DC, he appreciates what the local jazz scene offers versus other cities: “I get calls to play with people who are known in the jazz world, and I don’t know if I would get those calls anywhere else.” Of course, Lee is now making a few calls of his own. Rather than the rotating cast of musicians who have rounded out his past efforts, he’s currently assembled a new quartet that he’s particularly excited about. “This really feels like a band,” he says. “And it’s with three guys I’m close to—my best friends.” Performing with The Tony Martucci Quintet, July 9, Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, bluesalley.com | June 2013

The Radar Music

Jeff Dufour

Guitar Hero

Listen to DC’s jazz virtuoso—a man who could very well create your summer soundtrack.

Thanks to a few well-defined genres—jazz from Duke Ellington, alt-rock fusion from Fugazi and, of course, go-go from Chuck Brown—DC has made its name as a music town.

But, lately, DC has become an incubator for new sounds yet again. And if there’s an artist who represents this resurgence, it’s John Lee, a guitarist who has absorbed a range of influences to produce music that should weave its way into your road-trip playlist.The local virtuoso has studied free jazz extensively and steeped himself in everything from Jerry Garcia to Moroccan folk music.Lately, it’s been surf rock and the spaghetti Western movie scores of Ennio Morricone that have caught his attention.

Those diverse interests, and the versatility it’s created in his playing, have led him to gigs playing alongside reggae artist Matisyahu and legendary Brazilian jazz percussionist Cyro Baptista—at New York’s Lincoln Center, no less. “Cyro has taken me many wonderful places musically and geographically,” Lee says. “We went to Portugal a few years ago, and, most recently, we toured Brazil. The Lincoln Center show was very intense. I really enjoy playing with him.”

Recalling his time playing with Baptista, Lee was struck by the complexity of the arrangements, which influences the sound of his new EP, The Nature Series. “I wrote the first song with a simple melody,” he remembers, and it all flowed from there. Meanwhile, the guitar sounds are laden with reverb and tremolo, like something out of Django Unchained. “My music before was kind of scattered all over the place,” he says. “This… all goes together.”

But, through it all, you hear the experimental strain of jazz that Lee has honed after years in the clubs of U Street and Adams Morgan (he plays at JoJo on U Street every Tuesday when he’s not touring).While he says it can be tough for musicians to build a following in DC, he appreciates what the local jazz scene offers versus other cities: “I get calls to play with people who are known in the jazz world, and I don’t know if I would get those calls anywhere else.”

Of course, Lee is now making a few calls of his own. Rather than the rotating cast of musicians who have rounded out his past efforts, he’s currently assembled a new quartet that he’s particularly excited about. “This really feels like a band,” he says. “And it’s with three guys I’m close to—my best friends.” Performing with The Tony Martucci Quintet, July 9, Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, bluesalley.com

Read the full article at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/The+Radar+Music/1413446/161107/article.html.

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