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Will Lee – Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions

Aug. 29, 2013

I often seek out new approaches to this beautiful genre to show how creative artists can be. Without a doubt, bassist Will Lee, who has Will Leereleased his first solo album in 20 years, Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions, clearly and refreshingly colors outside the lines.

The project touts an all-star supporting cast including guitar heroes Steve Lukather, Pat Metheny and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons (my personal favorite pinch harmonics axeman), former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine, international vocal star Akiko Yano, legendary drummer Steve Gadd, former Mahavishnu Orchestra drummer & Pop producer Narada Michael Walden, contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay’s acclaimed pianist-composer Bob James & guitarist Chuck Loeb, New Orleans music icon Allen Toussaint, and longtime Letterman Show musical director and multi-faceted keyboardist Paul Shaffer.

Lee also shares songwriting credits on the album with Willie Nile, Leni Stern, Oli Rockberger, John Tropea and Dave Delhomme. “It was fun putting it all together,” Lee says of the album. “Every song is its own little adventure…” Listening to the many moods, styles, and overall diversity here, I can certainly see how creating this groove had to be fun.

The project leads off with “Gratitude,” a track with clever timing, gritty rock ‘n’ roll-like vocals, and cool lyrics. On the heels of that track is the unmistakable blues-driven grit of guitarist Billy Gibbons as he teams with Lee to roll out a mean rock-solid jam called “Get Out of My Life Woman” written by Toussaint (who also appears on piano on the track).

This album has so many interesting twists and turns in the road that you’ve gotta enjoy it just for that reason. As different from “Get Out of My Life Woman” as can be, “Papounet’s Ride,” featuring the iconic pianist Bob James, is an up-tempo, harmonics-driven sophisticated contemporary jazz romp. From there, you are taken to “Fooled Him,” a mid-tempo snappy and Steely Dan-like jazzy track featuring another icon, guitarist Chuck Loeb.  Further in is a World-tinged offering that morphs in and out of a bit of rock. It’s called “Shahara.”

A trip into uncharted waters for some of you, but certainly a delightful one if you appreciate true talent, creativity, and insight. Lee has made his case for all three. – Ronald Jackson

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