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Gene Lees


Journalist, Lyricist, Singer, Broadcaster

(1928 - )

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Gene Lees began his journalistic career in Ontario, Canada, where he was born. In 1955 he came to Kentucky as the music critic for the Louisville Times. From 1959 to 1962 he was editor of Down Beat magazine after which he freelanced for several notable publications, building his reputation as a prominent critic and spokesman for jazz. He wrote liner notes for the recordings of leading jazz musicians and studied composition, piano and guitar. In 1967 he published his first novel, And Sleep Until Noon.

He wrote lyrics for several Antonio Carlos Jobim tunes: “Dreamer,” “Someone to Light Up My Life,” and the popular “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.” He also contributed lyrics to Milton Nascimento’s “Bridges” and Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby” (which Monica Zetterlund sings in Swedish with Evans) and translated the poems of Pope John Paul II which Sarah Vaughan recorded in 1985 as One World, One Peace.

Returning to Canada in the early ‘70s, Lees served as president of Kanata, which released his first vocal album, and hosted shows on radio and television. After returning to the States he was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor award three times and began a prolific period of writing. In 1981 he published The Modern Rhyming Dictionary and began his own prestigious monthly publication Jazzletter. He drew on the newsletter for the material contained in his next three critically acclaimed books: Singers and the Song (1987), Meet Me at Jim & Andy’s (1988), and Waiting for Dizzy (1991). He wrote the biography Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing in 1988 and collaborated with Henry Mancini on his 1989 autobiography Did They Mention the Music? He also wrote Inventing Champagne: The Worlds of Lerner and Lowe (1990) and Jazz Lives (1992). His Cats of Any Color: Jazz, Black and White came out in 1994 and You Can’t Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt, and Nat in 2001. In 2003 he published an autobiographical work, Friends Along the Way: A Journey Through Jazz, and his most recent work is an intimate account of his lyricist friend, Portrait of Johnny: The Life of John Herndon Mercer (2004).

- Sandra Burlingame


Pure Brazil: Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars

Various Artists



Waltz for Debby

Monica Zetterlund & Bill Evans



Sings Waltz for Debby

Cheryl Bentyne



Sings Gene Lees

Gene Lees



Leaves on the Water

Gene Lees, Roger Kellaway
Reading and Viewing

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Gene Lees

Cats of Any Color: Jazz, Black and White

Da Capo Press


Gene Lees

Portrait of Johnny: The Life of John Herndon Mercer

Pantheon


Gene Lees

The Modern Rhyming Dictionary

Cherry Lane Music


Gene Lees

And Sleep Until Noon

Pocket Books


Gene Lees

Friends Along the Way: A Journey Through Jazz

Yale University Press


Gene Lees

Singers and the Song

Oxford University Press


Gene Lees

Singers and the Song II

Oxford University Press, USA


Graham Lees, Gene Lees

Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing

Prima Publishing


Gene Lees

Leader of the Band: The Life of Woody Herman

Oxford University Press, USA


Gene Lees

Waiting For Dizzy

Oxford University Press, USA


Gene Lees

Oscar Peterson, Updated Edition: The Will to Swing

Cooper Square Press


Gene Lees

Inventing Champagne: The Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

St Martins Pr


Lees. Gene

Inventing Champagne. The Worlds of Lerner and Lowe

St. Martin's Press


Gene Lees

You Can't Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt, and Nat

Bison Books

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