by Lola Rossi-Meza
In a rare and unique engagement, vocalist and songwriter Lee Hartley will perform with pianist Yarek Urant and guitarist Hal Braine this Saturday, April 20, from 8 p.m. until midnight in the Purple Room at Club Trinidad, 1900 East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. (760) 327-1161 ext. 230. She has invited special guest musicians from Los Angeles and here in the Desert to perform with her in this new venue in Palm Springs that deserves attention.
Hartley is the female vocalist for the Ted Herman Big Band. They perform every Sunday from 6 until 8 p.m. in the lobby of the Indian Wells Resort Hotel. (760) 345-6466. Instructor Carl Davis teaches a dance class at 5:15 p.m. She is performing and touring with Les McCann of the famed “Cold Duck” and “Compared To What” from the album Swiss Movement.
Her first solo CD entitled “Whole Lotta Somethin’”, an original composition, is also the title track featuring Les McCann. The CD also includes songs with the Ted Herman Big Band and the Pat Rizzo All-Star Band. On Thursday, April 25, at 8 p.m., she will perform with vocalist Cat Conner at Vitello’s Jazz Club, 4349 Tujunga Avenue in Studio City. (818) 769-0905.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised on the road touring with her musical family, Lee Hartley started singing at the age of three and was singing lead with “The Hartley Sisters” for her Father’s Gospel Ministry. Her mother and Father would sing together, two of her brothers played guitar and one played the trumpet. Still touring while in High School, she played saxophone, sang in various choirs and studied voice. She attended the University of South Carolina and soon found herself touring with a Rhythm and Blues Band in Florida.
After that summer, she headed to Greenwich Village in New York and lived across the street from the renowned Village Vanguard, where the most influential Jazz Musicians would perform nightly. “I went there every night,” said Hartley, “It was my first introduction to real Jazz. It was food for my soul, I was hooked.” She studied voice with Claude Garvey, who was Nipsy Russell’s musical conductor. Soon, she started touring the United States with David Blaylock. She moved to Palm Springs in 1976 and started singing in the Valley with various musicians including saxophonist Pat Rizzo, before moving to Los Angeles in 1978.
After moving to Los Angeles, she prepared a show and began touring in Japan for the Playboy Clubs. She has appeared in various Jazz festivals in the United States, Japan and Hawaii. Hartley has performed with numerous jazz groups in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and locally here in the Coachella Valley. In addition to her performance skills, Hartley started booking acts for two jazz clubs in Los Angeles. This experience gave her the opportunity to meet some of the best jazz musicians as well as understanding the net working of the business.
Two years ago, she put together a Dusty Springfield Tribute Show with the Gand Band, performing to sold out rooms. This Saturday, she plans to include her Dusty material, along with many of her originals, her favorite R & B tunes all the way to Bebop. Come to dance and enjoy this opportunity to see and hear this incredible vocalist. Visit her web-site: LeeHartley.Us and enjoy a video of her singing one of her original songs, “It’s Your Birthday”.