into music early, first with the clarinet, and later with the sax; in
junior high school, the boys formed their first dance band ("The
Starlighters"), which eventually turned into a six-piece Dixieland band
("The Savoy Six")
that performed all over the east coast while they were still in high
school, and subsequently did a three-month European tour ("The Brunotes") in
the summer of 1958 which included an engagement at the Brussels Worlds
After receiving his Master's degree from Manhattan School of Music in
1962, Lee taught music in New Jersey, played about a million gigs, and
studied arranging with William Russo in New York. He played at Grossingers' Hotel
in the Catskills, was Paula Wayne's conductor and musical director and
did shows all over the country with her, including the original
"Tonight Show" from New York. While enjoying the Catskills mountain air
he also fulfilled a long-time dream and got his private pilot's license.
In the early 70's he started a swinging NY jazz-rock big-band "SoundMachine" and
then "SoundMachine II"; the band rehearsed and performed all over the
New York area until 1978, when the bottom fell out of the music
and they finally disbanded.
At the end of the 70's, after building a computer from a kit
and parts, and by then totally disgusted with the 'music business', Lee
saw the 'handwriting on the wall' and decided to leave teaching for the
world of personal computers.
worked at one of the first computer stores on the east coast (ComputerMart of NJ), where he
built up a great hardware background; managed a "ComputerLand" store
for a while, then got into software development. He helped to create the massive "Yugo America, Inc."
dealer communications network; later, when the opportunity came
the same thing for "Sterling Motor Cars" in Miami, he grabbed it,
packed up his horns and his music, and headed south.
Since arriving in Miami, the idea was always there: to start another
big-band someday. It was the maturity of the PC and the
availability of high-powered music publishing software
that allowed the quick and
relatively painless creation of top-quality big-band music. It was at
the beginning of 1999 that Lee finally decided that it was time to
start another band.....
Harris New Millennium Big Band" was born! It didn't last long....
a few years doing programming for the health-care industry in the south Florida area , Lee went back into
music teaching, working at a few different private schools in the area,
building a website (this one!), and doing arrangements for local
retired from school teaching finally in 2008, but has continued
teaching privately, and building up a large catalog of musical
arrangements which are for sale. And 'LeeHarrisMusic.Net' is now going on 17 years!
(1) Yeah we played the Metropole
Cafe in NY. What a 'PIT' it had become! I remember catching Woody's
band there years ago; by 1976 it was just strippers and sleaze! And the
walls were completely covered with mirrors, so you can imagine what an
18-piece band sounded like in there! My ears are still ringing....
The COLONY THREE in Nutley could have been a great scene; they had
Buddy Rich's band, Kenton, Woody, Maynard, and featured the Lee Harris
SoundMachine II EVERY Sunday. Unfortunately, the place was run by
morons who had no clue as to how to satisfy a jazz audience.
They hired a single waitress for a crowd of over 250 people! Duh!...