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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The Blue Note Meets Lee
Wednesday, April 02, 2008

“No flash photography or video filming of any kind is allowed during the performance. Put your cells phones away, too,” boomed the God-like voice over the speakers at Blue Note New York only moments before The Square Egg’s songwriter and vocalist, Lee, was to hit the stage for his first of two performances on Monday evening. Although I had plans of getting part of his set on film I relented and put my camera away lest the imposing voice find me. Suddenly I realized the “up close” seats I had were far less necessary than first thought, but this wasn’t an evening about my neck’s comfort, this was a night for the unveiling of Lee’s solo work, his first music without The Square Egg, and despite suffering from a cold Lee made it a night to remember.

Now, calling Lee’s set a “solo” set is an exercise in stretching definitions. Yes, Lee wrote and both sung and rapped all the lyrics, and yes, he arranged almost all of the music, as well, but Lee has to be the only person I know who has a ten piece band (The Square Egg), but still finds a way to have even more people on stage with him during his “solo” set as no less than twelve musicians graced the stage alongside him, including one heck of a saxophone player who wowed the crowd with some freestyle play mid-set. Though it might seem odd, it’s actually completely appropriate that Lee have so many people on stage with him to perform his solo work as his album, Meet Lee, is all about being multifaceted and what better way to express that than through a multitude of sounds?

The bulk of Lee’s set focused on Meet Lee and the music from it. The theme of the night was love and God as some of the more revolutionary songs on the album took a backseat to Lee’s want to create a happy and positive vibe for the packed house of fans. Donning a tan Lee brand button down shirt, a shirt I am convinced he bought so his name could be right on his chest, almost like a nametag (heck, I’d do the same thing if there was an “Adam” brand), Lee joked with, inspired, and even cried with the crowd. It was a full on display of emotion, which is rare to see anywhere, let alone on stage in front of an audience. Lee clearly means it when he says he wants you to Meet Lee.

Musically, Lee’s solo work is a mixture of Jazz, Funk and Hip-Hop with a lyrical emphasis on individuality, love, and being true to, and standing up for, oneself. His baritone vocals are accentuated by his flow, which allows listeners a chance to actually hear and understand what he’s saying. Though his cold didn’t allow him to do all of the singing he would have liked to have done, and as he explained this to the audience one of his violin players hammed it up for him with a little “world’s tiniest violin” piece, Lee proved he belonged on the Blue Note, and quite frankly any other, stage.

After his hour plus long set, which included personal favorites “Letter From You” and “All U Need,” was completed I flipped through the booklet the Blue Note puts out that’s filled with info about all the artists they have performing there each month. I went to the 31st to check out what they had to say about Lee. As I read the first paragraph I had the strangest sensation that I had read it somewhere before. When I recognized the second paragraph I knew something was up. Suddenly I realized why it seemed so familiar. I laughed out loud. I hadn’t just read it before, I wrote it.

Running to catch my train I felt good and I think that’s the true measure of greatness of any live show, how one feels afterwards. Do you feel sated, like you’ve had just enough of a fantastic meal? Do you feel inspired? Do you feel good? I felt all of these things, even as I looked at my cell phone to check to see how fast I was going to have to run to catch the 10:22pm train home. With that in mind one can’t call Lee’s performance anything less than a rousing success.

Related Links

Lee: whoislee.com
The Square Egg: thesquareegg.com
Adam's World: Artist Of The Week - TSE (7/06)
RapReviews: The Square Egg Interview (9/05)
posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:52 AM  
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