Founded by Singer/Songwriter Mela Lee with Music Direction and arranging by the prodigious Alexander Burke, unforgettable and haunting horn playing by Jon Faddis protÃ©gÃ© Marcus Graf, incredibly infectious percussive interp by industry legend Steve Hass, and an anchor of Bass by jazz bad boy Gordon Bash
Mela Lee â€“ Vocals - Mela Leeâ€™s five octave range and unique sound are reminiscent of the spirit of a young Etta James, Billie Holiday, & Helen Merill, along with the mischievous youth & sensuality of Grammy Award-winners, Amy Winehouse and Adele. Leeâ€™s voice is classic, stunning, and instantly familiar. Andrae Crouch says of Lee, â€œShe has the voice of an angel and can break the heart of heavenâ€. A professional voiceover artist for film and television, Lee is featured in over 30 animated series and movies and will be heard in the upcoming Lions Gate animated feature film, â€œAlpha and Omegaâ€ with Hayden Panetierre, Christina Ricci, Dennis Hopper and Danny Glover.
Alexander Burke - Vibraphone, Piano, Organ â€“ At 26, Burke has been playing professionally for over 12 years. He has performed with musical legends Jon Faddis, Joe Labarbera, Joey DeFrancesco, Slide Hampton, Chuck Hedges, and blues greats Arthur Adams and Guitar Shorty. In 2002, he became one of the youngest music directors in the history of Second City Chicago and continues to tour with the national company as time permits. He has performed with SNL sketch comedy legends Mike Meyers, Tim Meadows, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler and Keegan-Michael Key from Mad TV. He holds a BA in Jazz Composition from Columbia College and a Masters in Film Scoring from USC. Along with his writing partner, Ben Watters, he is the youngest composer in history for an Emmy-nominated network television series (â€œFrank TVâ€ on TBS).
Gordon Bash â€“ Upright Bass, Ukulele - A Pennsylvania native, Gordon moved to Los Angeles where he started playing with the world famous Dresden singing Duo â€œMarty and Elayneâ€ at the age of 18. In the past decade, he has continued to be in demand with jazz ensembles and rock bands alike due to his command of rhythm, dynamics and his rock sensibility. His grooving energy propels Magnolia Memoir beyond just another retro group into â€œjazz for a new generationâ€. Gordon also composes for film and television, produces the original rock band â€“ â€œMankind is Obsoleteâ€, and makes the ladies swoon.
Marcus Graf â€“ Trumpet, Flugelhorn - Born in Austin, TX , Marcus first picked up the trumpet at age 13. Earning early accolades as a young player, Marcus went on to receive a Masters Degree in Jazz from SUNY Purchase in New York. He studied privately with trumpet powerhouses Jon Faddis, Ray Vega and Jim Rotondi, and his focus on technique has afforded him an impressive melodic vocabulary. His unique touch caught the ear of director David Lynch, who asked him to open for his recent film, â€œInland Empireâ€ and also had him perform alongside electronic music phenomenon Moby and singer Donovan at the sold-out David Lynch Weekend for 2008. An integral part of the Magnolia Memoir Ensemble â€“ he is lovingly called â€œthe second singerâ€, a nod to his memorable counter-melodies & screaming range on the horn.
Steve Hass â€“ Drums, Percussion - Whether playing a 12/8 ballad behind Art Garfunkel or Billy Joel, trading 8â€™s with guitar legend George Benson, flowing through a funk groove in 13 with the Ravi Coltrane Group, swinging with Manhattan transfer or playing a variety of styles with The John Scofield Band, Steve leaves a signature sound wherever he goes. He brings it in spades to the Magnolia Memoir project. After touring with the Ravi Coltrane Group, Manhattan Transfer, and with John Scofield on the Ray Charles Tribute Project, itâ€™s an honor to have Steve masterfully leading the group from dirty swing to the softest of ballads to unexpected and unforgettable r&b tinged grooves.