The Velvet Rage is the debut album by pianist, composer and bandleader Pete Lee, and features a collection of original compositions that celebrate progression and diversity.
Lee is recognised for imaginative, virtuosic piano playing that draws effortlessly on his love of jazz, classical and folk music. From the pop grooves of the opening track ‘Writer’s Block’ to the rich beauty of the ‘The Velvet Rage’ and ‘Stavanger’, a piece dedicated to Stavanger’s artist of the year, the Norwegian contemporary dancer Marie Ronold Mathisen, The Velvet Rage reveals that he is an equally gifted composer. “ The structure of ‘Writer’s Block’ follows the pop-tune canon rather than that of a typical jazz standard. It's made up of verses, choruses, guitar solo bridge and even a stereotypical key change. The feeling of writer's block was never something I struggled with as a child. I used to write a new piano tune every week or so. I'd be far less concerned about how my songs would be appreciated than I am now. They were just for me, and I loved the feeling of creating something - composing simply felt joyful,” explains Lee . The tune of ‘The Velvet Rage’ marked the beginning of a new style of writing for Lee. “ The piano part was at first composed around the physical shape of my hands as they crossed over, sharing the same range of the keyboard. I wanted to use this piano technique throughout the entire cycle. I'd met the Amika Quartet whilst playing with Alice Zawadzki. For the first time, I arranged for string quartet. The experience was pretty mind blowing.”
The album is arranged for Lee’s 10-piece band, “a fusion group in the truest sense of the word, from jazz, pop and classical backgrounds,” explains Lee. “Josh Arcoleo on saxophone, Alex Munk on guitar, Huw Foster on bass, Ali Thynne on drums & The Amika Strings – Laura Senior on violin 1, Rich Jones on violin 2 & jazz violin, Lucy Nolan on viola and Peggy Nolan on cello. Simmy Singh plays violin on ‘Stavanger’.”
Named after the seminal book The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs the album examines the pursuit of personal validation. “ Growing up in an Evangelical Christian family, my sexuality took some time for us all to understand and accept. I'm keen that a story of joy and love is included in the way my music is presented. Listen out for the Velvet and the Rage.” says Lee.
Pete Lee The Velvet Rage Live