Memphis, Tennessee. MIT. Carolina Piedmont. Silicon Valley. Blues in Mississippi. Taiko in Kyoto. Lee is on a quest, and it shows in his music.
The quest? To go beyond diversity and variety. Learning how we each are different is just a start; Lee is exploring how we are the same. And it shows in his music.
The goal? Bring out the best of every music. "The most important quality of a good arranger is insight", says Lee Allen. "You've got to size up the song as though it were a person - it actually is somebody's baby, you know." Bring out the key strengths of the song, apply insight, look at the song a new way - the result is an arrangement that speaks directly to the listener's heart.
Insight, in this case, has been gained from a varied playing history that started when Lee began playing Memphis nightclubs at the age of 14 (don't tell!) in the late 60's. The band in which Lee played became one of the most popular club, touring and show bands in late-60's and early 70's Memphis. Their work included backing Ollie and the Nightengales, soul- and beach-music legend Major Lance, hosting an impromptu jam session with Isaac Hayes, and once opening for blues legend Bobby Womack.
"Memphis will always have a special place in American music history because it was the musical home of Elvis, BB King, Isaac Hayes, Al Green and dozens of other artists -- all at the same time. It was very exciting to be a small part of this historic explosion and celebration of talent."
Later, while a student at MIT, Lee helped another musician introduce a gospel choir to the MIT campus, and held the pianist position in the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, the school's A-list jazz band under the direction of Herb Pomeroy of the Berklee School of Music, from freshman year until graduating from MIT (and was also student-government president!).
One summer job during Lee's college years consisted of organizing friends into yet another band and touring Mississippi once more with soul and blues legend Ollie Nightingale and with a blues artist known only as "Big Daddy". Four days after the end of the tour, Lee was back in Boston, playing for the Festival Jazz Ensemble at MIT.
During the '80's, Lee Allen was an arranger and accompanist for various performers including the Gene Roberts Trio (left), and also began his current solo music business. During the '90's, Lee organized church music programs in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Silicon Valley, California in addition to performing as a soloist and "virtual jazz trio".
Lee does not use any high-minded labels for his work. "It's just pop, influenced by jazz and some other things," Lee says. "But I believe that pop music is very important because it is the prime indicator of where the general population stands musically at any given time."
"Music is a language of feelings and emotions. So, when I arrange or compose, I imagine listeners saying 'I am opening a door to my feelings, don't abuse my trust'.
"I understand that everybody likes a wild ride now and then, but I leave that music for others to make. It's nice sometimes to be merely entertained by music, but I am seeking to create simple, beautiful things and then share them with the listener."
People have described Lee Allen's music as relaxing but not boring; clean but not mechanical; very-high-quality but not aloof or esoteric. Lee seeks the themes that unify us and inspire us, that build us up. And it shows in his music.
Lee Allen is a member of the TrustLink Community (a program of the Better Business Bureau), and a Preferred Vendor of the Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos, the Saratoga Country Club, the Los Altos Country Club and the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
Lee has performed successfully with great feedback from customers at restaurants, receptions, corporate parties and private parties -- for example, Lee Allen has performed successfully at the Fairmont, Mark Hopkins and Palace Hotels in San Francisco, the Fairmont, Hilton and St. Claire Hotels in San Jose, Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, HS Lordship's in Berkeley, the Chaminade Resort in Santa Cruz and the Saratoga Foothill Club.
Lee performed at Ray's Ristorante in Atlanta's Lenox Square for eighteen months, at Faz Mediterranean Restaurant in Sunnyvale for five years, and at MacArthur Park Restaurant in Palo Alto, California for more than two years. Please check Lee Allen's website for his latest engagement dates.
Lee's musical approach to arranging is to deliver familiar melodies seen a new way, while preserving the message and spirit of the original song.
Lee's special technique and capabilities make for extremely competitive pricing for events requiring background music, such as receptions and dinners.