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Brandon Lee was born and raised in Houston, TX in 1983. Growing up in a musical family, Lee started out on piano at an early age and switched to trumpet at age 9. Influenced, early on, by his dad and older brother, Lee got serious about the trumpet and jazz around the age of 12. At the age of 16, Lee made his first connection with his biggest musical influence, Wynton Marsalis at the Essential Ellington (EE) competition in New York City. Lee was invited to play as a special guest with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a Louis Armstrong special that aired live on PBS in 2000. In 2001, Lee moved to New York City at the age of 18 to further pursue his study of jazz. He was 1 of 18 students chosen in the inaugural class of the jazz studies program at The Juilliard School. Lee received a Bachelor of Music (2005), Master of Music (2007) and Artist Diploma (2008) from The Juilliard School.
Shortly after graduating, Lee started working at Juilliard as an adjunct professor in 2008. Lee officially join the jazz studies faculty as one of the youngest faculty to ever teach at The Juilliard School (2009-2012). While at Juilliard, Lee was the conductor for the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra and an improvisation instructor. He also worked in Educational Outreach as the Artistic Director (2010-2012).
In 2013, Lee moved to North Carolina to pursue a college teaching position for the Miles Davis Studies program at University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG). It was there that Lee helped to start the jazz brass department, and to put UNCG Jazz Studies Program on the “map.” At UNCG Lee taught trumpet and trombone private lessons, jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz listening and jazz ensemble (big band). Lee taught on faculty from 2013-2018.
As a sideman, Lee is a member of the Christian McBride Big Band, Birdland Big Band, David Berger Big Band and recently joined the Count Basie Orchestra. Lee plays frequently with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider Orchestra, Fat Cat Big Band, Eyal Vilner Big Band and many others. Over the years Lee has played with notable artists and groups including, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Aaron Diehl and Cecil McLorin Salvant, Kurt Elling, and Kenny Barron Quintet, to name a few. Lee has recorded on over a dozen albums as a sideman. In February 2018, Lee was awarded his first Grammy as a sideman on Christian McBride’s big band album, “Bringin’ It”.
As a leader, Lee has recorded three albums: “From Within” (2007), “Absolute-Lee” (2010), and his latest, “Common Thread” (2017). He also co-leads a 10-piece group called the Uptown Jazz Tentet (UJT). In March 2017, UJT released its first album titled, There It Is. For each album, Lee features a great deal of his own writing. As a composer and arranger, Lee has written for all types of ensembles, ranging from jazz trios to big bands. In addition to jazz compositions, Lee has also written for other styles of music. In April 2018, Lee was commissioned by The University of Scranton to write and conduct two pieces, one for a concert band and the other for a choir.
Throughout his career, Lee has performed in many jazz venues as a leader in the New York area, Houston and North Carolina. Most notable are: The Exit 0 Jazz Festival (NJ), Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (NYC), Skidmore Jazz Festival (NY), Smalls Jazz Club (NYC), Fat Cat Jazz (NYC), Jazz In The Cave (NYC), Summer Music Associates Festival (NH), The Wortham Theater (Houston), Carolina Theater (Greensboro), The Jazz Room (Charlotte), and Sharp 9 Gallery (Durham).
Currently, Lee resides in New York City where he is pursuing more performance opportunities and continuing to build on other aspects of his music career.