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Robbie Lee

Idioma disponible: inglés
Robbie Lee is a New York-based composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and improviser who records under his own name and as Creature Automatic. He works across genres including rock & roll, experimental music, classical music old and new, and traditional as well as modern folk. He plays a startling array of instruments, preferring pre-modern western instruments that he showcases in new contexts, such as Baroque and medieval flute, crumhorn, Renaissance clarinet, and portative organ and bass recorders. His M.O. is utilizing ancient textures and sounds inside wildly different modern contexts. While he is recognized under his own name primarily for the albums Sleep Memory (2006), a collection of songs arranged for vocals, guitar, piano, bass, winds, and drums, and Dust Clouds May Exist (as Creature Automatic), he is better known as an in-demand session player and live sideman who has worked with artists ranging from Neil Michael Hagerty and Josef Van Wissem to Cass McCombs, Mary Halvorson, and Baby Dee, to name a few. He is also a member of an improvising and recording trio that includes German flutist Norbert Rodenkirchen (Sequentia) and bassist James Ilgenfritz, and also runs the Tele-Graph Harp label alongside Che Chen. Lee was raised in Massachusetts just outside Boston in a family environment saturated in traditional jazz. He naturally gravitated toward saxophone at eight, and studied with Douglas Yates, who taught him improvisation by steeping him in the music of Sun Ra. (His second-year recital was an all Ra program.) He spent his time in a "horizontal" environment, learning about -- and how to play -- reed and wind instruments. At 15 he heard a recording of Yusuf Lateef playing a shehnai flute and was so intrigued he bought one and learned to play it. He also sought out early instruments and listened to the many early music ensembles in the area. Lee was in college before he learned anything about pop music, and after graduating, moved to New York and began working in rock bands (including Howling Hex) displaying what is now his established style. He was just as active in the edgy improv scene in Brooklyn while writing his own songs. Between 2004 and 2010, he privately issued a series of CDs of his own music that was shared with friends and at gigs, winning him more session work. They included Dog Run, New Music for Renaissance Winds (2008), Creatures Alone (2008), Three Constellations (2008), Ricardo Sun (2009), and The Evening Star and The Morning Star (2010). In 2007, Lee made his first recording with Dax Riggs on We Sing of Only Blood or Love, and later co-produced and played keyboards on Say Goodnight to the World. In 2008 he played Renaissance clarinet, bass clarinet, and saxophone on Baby Dee's Safe Inside the Day, and issued his first recording with Chen, Begin and Continue. Dozens of collaborations followed, including the Howling Hex date for XI in 2011 and with Hagerty again on his Victory Chimp audiobook. Lee also utilized his considerable technical skills. For Van Wissem and Jim Jarmusch's Heresy of the Free Spirit: A Prayer for Light (2011), he played portative organ, low recorders, electric guitar, and bells, and he engineered, mixed, and mastered the duo's two 2012 EPs, Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity and The Mystery of Heaven. Lee also recorded and engineered the Van Wissem-penned score for Jarmusch's film Only Lovers Left Alive in 2013. That same year he made his first recording with McCombs, playing no less than seven instruments on Big Wheel and Others. Over the next several years, Lee spent his time working in improvisational groups, but managed to issue Creature Automatic's debut Dust Clouds May Exist in 2015; he lent his talents to Psalm Zero's Stranger to Violence the following year. In 2017, Lee and Chen issued The Spectrum Does, Cassandra Jenkins' Play til You Win, and !!!'s Shake the Shudder. 2018 was a banner year for Lee as an improviser. In a multi-generational trio with Norbert Rodenkirchen and James Ilgenfritz, he released the acclaimed Opalescence and worked with Mary Halvorson on a series of improvisations for the New Amsterdam label that became the Seed Triangular album. Halvorson, a longtime acquaintance, performed on an 18-string harp guitar (among other instruments), and he played Baroque flutes, chalumeau, Renaissance clarinet, and the piccolo-sized soprillo saxophone -- the smallest member of that reed family.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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