Dae Lee, Big Band Director

Having completed studies in Music at The University of Bristol, Dae currently works as a freelance drummer and percussionist. Under the tutelage of Clark Tracey, Mike Osborne, and John O’Hara, he has been exposed to an extensive range of styles including big band, jazz/pop/soul, orchestral, pit and 4 mallet tuned percussion.

Dae has worked with musicians and ensembles such as the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the London Swing Orchestra, George Fenton, National Youth Jazz Orchestra (ambassador), Thomas Adès, Nico Muhly, Malory Torr, Byron Wallen and Thierry Pécou. Venues and studio work include Abbey Road Studios, Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club, Royal Albert Hall, Love Supreme Jazz Festival (Yamaha Tent), Royal Festival Hall, Barbican, O2 Indigo, Pizza Express Jazz Club (Dean Street, Pheasantry, Birmingham, Maidenhead), Beijing Concert Hall, Budapest Jazz Club, BBC Hyde Park Festival, Livingston Studios and Metropolis Studios. Dae has also worked for labels such as Universal Music Group (Earth Orchestra) and Decca Records (The Boy Downstairs: Netflix).

Regularly depping for big bands such as Kingswood Big Band has given the opportunity for Dae to work alongside UK jazz greats such as Barry Forgie, Bill Geldard and Ronnie Hughes.

Alongside performing regularly in a variety of bands, shows and genres, Dae is an educator in prestigious establishments such as The Royal Ballet School (White Lodge), Wellington College (deputy) and Epsom College.

What has been the worst or most memorable thing that has happened during one of your performances – as a performer/director/accompanist etc?

As a performer, I once forgot to pack my bass drum pedal. We ended up Macgyver’ing one with the plate of a guitar pedal and some springs we found at the theatre bar – it did not work. 

Who is your musical inspiration?

I deeply admire Leonard Bernstein, who I believe to be one of the most versatile musicians of all time. He conducted, composed, arranged, performed and educated to the highest degree. 

What inspires you to perform and teach?

 My previous teachers, i guess. There can be a sense of snobbery amongst a number of musicians towards those who teach. Yet, they forget that they themselves were taught by cats at the top. 

Using a relatable example, if we look back to September, Big Band would not be creating the sound and feel they do now. It is extremely rewarding to see students and ensembles progress. It’s infectious! 

Which instrument do you wish you had learned?

Although I learnt it briefly, I wish I had taken my piano playing more seriously, espeically in terms of sight reading ‘on the fly’. It is my kryptonite. 

What musical advice would you give to your younger self?

 Stop comparing yourselves to others (musically) – the ones at the top are because they sound like themselves. Still working on this one….

What musical moment are you most proud of?

 My first performance at the Royal Albert Hall. I frequent the BBC Proms every year and always wanted to perform at this venue. It was a very special feeling to be on that stage. 

Which three words describe you as a musician?

Aware, decisive, neurotic! 

What is your favourite memory of working with Music at Reading?

Probably our first gig at Mojo’s. The band really pulled it out of the bag and it was great to hear what we had achieved in a terms worth of rehearsals. 

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