For Commander Zero


Commander Zero … has descriptions of the BC coastal mountains and shadowy waters that are mythopoetic rich as Gwendolyn MacEwen, and vivid portrayal of coastal life and the community of rural fishers and loggers with all its intrigue, relationships, and small details of daily life.”

--Gary Barwin, serif of nottingblog


Commander Zero is a brilliantly written novel that takes place in the tiny community of Pender Harbour. This is not your quaint and cozy local yokel tale. It is dark and quirky, as lyrical and hard as the landscape itself … The elements of nature are powerful, fully-fledged characters in this novel, as they are in marginal coastal life. Author David Lee understands this and has created a profound and beautiful work because of it…. The voice that Lee developed to help him understand hard-scrabble Pender Harbour life has helped him to create a novel that is part poem, part tragedy, an honest and moving mystery.”

--Carole Rubin, Coast Reporter, Sechelt


“David Neil Lee has written a probing story in Commander Zero … knife-edge writing, excellent pacing … Lee is a strong storyteller with powerful moments of insight and resolution.”

--Don Graves, Hamilton Spectator


“I love books strongly rooted in place, where the writer is so generous with specific detail that you can visualize the land, the vistas, the houses, the weather. If you’re looking for a lively and intriguing read for the end of summer, this is your book … Commander Zero is more than a roman-à-clef. ... Listen to the opening paragraph: Between the mountains are canyons filled with salt water, and what I remember first is fishing in that water. The mountains are like the shoulders of women. The women are reaching under the water. They are searching for something there. Like them, we’ll search those drowned canyons and what comes up will surprise us.”

Theresa Kishkan, The Harbour Spiel, Pender Harbour

Quotes on The Battle of the Five Spot


 At a panel discussion during the 2008 Portland Jazz Festival:

… the rest of the panel dug in, cited the scholarship on the matter (notably David Lee’s The Battle of the Five Spot) and sketched for the audience the rough way [Ornette Coleman’s New York debut] was treated.

--Barry Johnson, Art Scatter, Portland, Oregon


“Few books about jazz are written by persons with David Lee's credentials as a musician and a journalist. These experiences have obviously informed the writing of The Battle of the Five Spot. Lee does not merely cite primary sources; he hears them with the sensitivity of an improviser and the scrutiny of a critic, and responds to them accordingly. This is what separates this crisply written, illuminating analysis of one of the most pivotal events in jazz history from the numbing tomes of the tenured herd.” 

—Bill Shoemaker, Point of Departure (USA) 


“The Battle of the Five Spot is an essential work for understanding today’s—and yesterday’s—creative music.”

—Lawrence Svirchev, Misterioso (Canada)


“Lee’s book provides a great perspective on the synthesis of this “change of the century” with a clear and concise writing style and well-chosen quotes and examples.”

—Michael Rosenstein, Cadence (USA)


“Excellent… Lee writes clearly and academically… He rightly stands on the shoulders of numerous scholars who have come before him (Bernard Gendron, Ingrid Monson, Pierre Bourdieu, Scott DeVeaux), while contributing a few grains of his own to the growing corpus of excellent jazz scholarship. This book, along with Mark Miller’s recent works, makes a convincing case that Toronto’s Mercury Press is Canada’s finest producer of jazz monographs.”

—Andrew Scott, Coda (Canada)


“A provocative study… a heartfelt—and powerful—tribute to the creative validity of free jazz.”

—Pamela Margles, The Whole Note (Canada)