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DAVID ZEE RELEASES DEBUT CD "CAN'T SIT STILL"
Independent artist David Zee has released his debut CD "Can't Sit Still." The self- produced disk features the blues-swing- rock sound he has perfected for over 20 yearsin the clubs, bars and coffee houses of the northeastern U.S.
All of Zee's influences come into play on "Can't Sit Still" - the boogie-woogie piano pounding that conjures up images of a long-haired Jerry Lee Lewis; the sharp, funny lyrics that were undoubtedly influenced by Zee's years on the road with Gross National Product, a nationally touring polical comedy troupe; and the hot swinging grooves absorbed from his insatiable love of old Elmore James and Louis Jordan records.
A first-time listener to one of Zee's live sets may be confused by the inevitable audience cry, "Hey Zee, play the dog song!" That would be the audience favorite, "Leave Your Dog," a funny and ironically sentimental love song. "It's an old Motown song I just wrote," explains Zee.
Other songs include "Absolutely Baby," a New Orleans guitar rocker about the endless battle of the sexes; "Moonlight Cruise," a Drifters-style tribute to city harbor sailing boats; and the title track, a straight-ahead swing shuffle.
Zee also has a serious side. An accomplished television composer, he has won several national awards for his work, including a 1994 New York Film Festival award for original music and the grand prize in the 2001 Music to Life competition for songs of social concern sponsored by Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary. His TV soundtracks have supported programs on the Discovery Channel, Home and Garden Television, and PBS.
"I've enjoyed writing songs for other people's TV shows for many years," explains Zee. "I wanted to write about my own experiences for a change, in the styles I love to play."
Longtime music friends filled out the instrumentation on "Can't Sit Still." Drummer Ralph Tucker has performed with trumpeter Dizzy Gilespie and the Stan Kenton Big Band. Saxophonist David E. Smith has performed sideman duties for organ legend Jimmy McGriff and jazz singer Ethel Ennis.
"Can't Sit Still" is available online at CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com). David Zee's website is www.davidzee.com .
MUSIC MONTHLY, SEPTEMBER 2002, BALTIMORE MD
David Zee has been performing for nearly a quarter of a century now. And although he is classically trained, his heart is in the blues and folk music of his adolescence. But, David plays his music with a humorous twist. And judging by the approval rating of club-goers in the Fell's Point scene they love every minute of each and every savvy tongue-in-cheek performance.
David has translated his popular live set into a wonderfully innovative CD entitled "Can't Sit Still" (a phrase I have a feeling was used to describe this artist many times!) It is sometimes difficult to capture on a recording the energy and charisma of a live performance. But, David's invigorating energy and talent shine through on his debut CD.
Perhaps the caliber of players has something to do with the success of this endeavor. David handled the keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitars and bass (a multi-talented dude). Ralph Tucker, drums, has played with Dizzy Gillespie and the Stan Kenton Big Band. David E. Smith has had the honor of playing sax with such luminaries as Ethel Ennis and Jimmy McGriff. And John Grant who recorded this CD at Secret Sound adds a few touches with electric guitar.
But after assembling a wonderful ensemble of players, the true test is the songs. This nine song CD is chock full of the verve that is the center of a David Zee performance. Set to the sound of the honky tonk piano, this CD is just good old fashion fun!
Opening the set is "Absolutely Baby," a piece on the age-old yin-yang between the sexes. The singer is going to do whatever it takes for his baby. It is the "yes, honey" response women want and at the same time we all know is lie wrapped up in self-serving egotism.
The next tune, "Leave Your Dog," is a live favorite. It is the country lament. You know, "My wife and dog left me. And boy, do I miss that dog!" Set to the sounds of a funky beat and the keyboard playing in a minor key, the lyrics are just a hoot.
"...I don't want your money
You know I'm not a mooch
But I'll be lonely when you leave me
So baby would you leave your pooch..."
And Mr. Zee is not just a one-trick pony. As the soulful and heartfelt tune, "See You Soon (for Ashley)" proves, there is a depth underneath the humor. This short, sweet little song reminds his wife that he will be home from his far away gig soon.
If you are in the mood for some clean fun, throw on this CD or come on out to see this Baltimore native get down. The music won't leave you depressed or morose. In fact, you'll probably leave dancing and feeling groovy!
DAVID ZEE Special Maryland Backgound Facts
David Zee's independent CD "Can't Sit Still" is the result of a lifelong love affair with his hometown of Baltimore MD. Zee was born into the nightlife; his grandmother owned and operated a tavern until the late 1960s on Lombard Street in the Inner Harbor, where a pre-teen David learned to shoot pool with sailors from the working boats.
A year studying classical piano with a prominent Peabody Conservatory piano faculty member and a couple moreyears in the prestigious Towson State University music department couldn't bring the young piano prodigy to the straight and narrow. He analyzed and understood "serious" music but was driven by an instinctive love of blues and folk.
In his early twenties, David put together his first Zee Band in Charm City. Pounding out blues staples like "Big Boss Man" and "Caledonia," the six-piece group quickly gained a local following and opened for the legendary Nighthawks blues band. The Baltimore Sun praised the David Zee Band's "first-rate versions of classic rock and R&B songs." In 1984 Zee started a then unheard-of Thursday night Blues Jam at the newly-opened Full Moon Saloon in Fells Point, which now features open blues sessions five nights a week.
When he moved to the Waterfront Hotel (now closed) in 1985, the audience wanted to hear the popular folk songs of James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Don McLean, and the versatile, crowd-pleasing Zee found their wishes hard to resist. Fells Point regulars set their watches by Zee's Friday midnight renditions of "American Pie" for 15 years.
"I am excited to come back to the blues with this CD," explains Zee. "I was happy playing other artists' songs for many years and writing music for other people's TV shows, but now I hope folks will give my songs a listen."
The Baltimore club scene is showing its approval with solid attendance and brisk CD sales at Zee's shows. According to Paige McIntyre, booking manager of the Cat's Eye Pub, "this recording captures the live essence of the band, which is not an easy feat...his live performances at the Cat's Eye Pub always get the joint movin' and groovin'."
"Can't Sit Still" features a music and recording "Who's Who" from the Baltimore area. Drummer Ralph Tucker, formerly with Swing Central and the Big Dog Band, has performed with trumpeter Dizzy Gilespie and the Stan Kenton Big Band. Saxophonist David E. Smith has performed sideman duties for organ legend Jimmy McGriff and jazz singer Ethel Ennis, as well as an endless number of Baltimore blues and jazz ensembles. The CD was mixed at John Grant's Secret Sound, where countless Maryland artists have recorded, including Disappear Fear and O'Malley's March. Mastering engineer Ty Ford is a nationally recognized expert on audio production and journalist who contributes regularly to Pro Audio Review and Mix magazines.
"Can't Sit Still" is available in the Baltimore area at Barnes and Noble downtown and Record and Tape Traders, and online at CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com).
In addition to his national TV credits, David has long been a mainstay in local film and television music. His song "My Angel" was the closing title for Steve Yeager's independent film "On the Block." He wrote the theme for "Cinemaryland," a current weekly cable TV celebration of films produced by Howard County Community College. And most recently he composed music for lyrics that Maryland Public Television's children's hero Bob the Vid Tech sings to his young fans in an elaborate touring show.
David Zee Press/testimonials:
"David Zee is at home in front of an audience. He has the unusual ability to switch from serious musician to comic and back again at anytime...an all-around nice guy." - Rod Smith, presenter of the Folkal Point music venue (Columbia MD) and Music On Linwood house concert series (Baltimore MD)
"Can't Sit Still proves to be...an uncontrollable outcome. This recording captures the live essence of the band, which is not an easy feat...his live performances at The Cat's Eye Pub always get the joint movin' and groovin'. David's nimble fingering and his artistic range on the keyboard, combined with the rhythm section and horns, make for a 'dare you not to dance' good time."- Paige McIntyre, booking manager of Cat's Eye Pub (Baltimore MD), former contributing writer to Maryland Musician magazine
"...first-rate versions of classic rock and R&B songs."- Baltimore Sun
David Zee Discography:
David Zee, Can't Sit Still, (David Zee Music)
Keyboards only: David DeBoy, Crabs for Christmas for 20 Years
Included on compilation CD: Music to Life 2001 Awards Concert (Public Domain Foundation)