Hey there blind wisdom seekers –
I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet! As well as being an old Dunedin identity, he’s totally blind! My memories of Julian Lee are hearing the story about him driving while under the influence of blindness. I don’t have that story for you today but I do have some great info about this inspiring blind man so here’s something for you to carry on with until I come back with the rest!
Julian Lee was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1923 and educated by the Foundation for the Blind before going on to study music at Auckland University.
Julian was blind at birth and was involved in music from the age of six.
His first major involvement after University was as band leader and arranger for the New Zealand Broadcasting Service. In 1956 he moved to Sydney to work
as arranger for the Australian Broadcasting Service and Channel Seven. He later formed his own company producing commercials for radio and television.
1963 found him in Los Angeles and in the years following he arranged for "Greats" such as George Shearing, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee. He worked on albums
with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Harry “Sweets” Edison and many other of the world renown names of Jazz.
During this period he arranged for the Pat Boone National Television Show and worked as a producer for Capital Records for three years. He played live performances
in many famous jazz venues of the day around Los Angeles, including Shelleys Manne Hole, China Trader and Dantes. He Later returned to New Zealand for
four years with Radio New Zealand and was involved in jazz music directing the Neophonic Society’s Big Band.
Since his return to Sydney in 1978 Julian has staged concerts in the Sydney Opera House, worked as music coordinator at Channel Ten, arranged music for
various projects at the ABC and has produced and arranged records for artists such as Don Burrows, Billy Field, Johnny Nicol, Ricky May, James Galway,
Yvonne Kenny and Kerrie Biddell.
Julian had an eight year stint as resident pianist at the Regent Hotel, Sydney. and more recently the Inter-Continental Hotel. He also performed with Kerrie
Biddell and The Don Burrows Quintet.
He has worked with visiting international artists such as Ronnie Scott, Urbie Green, Red Rodney, Phil Wilson and Lee Konitz.
Julian’s orchestral works (Jazz and Classical), included The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, The S.B.S. Youth Orchestra (an original compilation featuring Don
Burrows), The Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and The Tasmania Symphony Orchestra.
Julian resides in The Southern Highlands, NSW in Australia and is in his 90th year! In 2011 I had the privilege of interviewing Julian for the Cooking Without Looking show. I’m off to hunt that interview down for you but in the meantime click on the link to hear Julian in piano action! http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/julian-lee
To wit to whoo!