Bassist, composer and bandleader Robert Lee is emerging as a formidable talent in Toronto’s jazz scene.

In the last couple years, the 26-year-old has released two EPs of original compositions — one of chamber music called Blinkreleased last October, and one of modern jazz called Still Lifereleased this January — and he’s already in the midst of making his first full-length jazz album. Meanwhile, Lee has been playing professionally all around Ontario alongside artists like Allison Au, Trevor Giancola and Nick Mancini, including on the festival circuit like the Guelph Jazz Festival, the Newmarket Music Festival and the Kensington Market Jazz Festival.

Lee is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s music program and Humber College’s jazz school. Along the way, he earned the Duke Ellington Society Scholarship in 2017 and 2018, as well as the James Appel School Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship in 2018. Last year, he worked with Pat Metheny, arranging the composition Then and Now for the Humber Studio Band. Lee participated in our Jazzology program in 2018.

“It meant a lot for me to be recognized by my teachers and peers as someone who has grown as a young artist and someone who hopefully has an artistic voice that is meaningful to others,” he says.

We asked the up-and-coming musician to tell us more about his work since then, what keeps him creatively inspired, and what the jazz world can expect from his forthcoming debut album.