June 2016

June 22, 2016 I get to speak at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Pender Harbour Reading Centre. We lived in the Harbour from 1991 to 2002, and the reading centre was the first library our boys ever went to; it’s an invaluable, volunteer run resource for this rural community. The reading will be at 4:00 pm at our former neighbour Chrys Sample’s Francis Point B&B.

Friday, June 24 I will be at the People’s Coop Bookstore in Vancouver, reading with a poet I have long admired, Tom Wayman.

Then I hope to hear some of the Vancouver jazz festival before heading to Kelowna for a signing Saturday, July 2 at Mosaic Books, 1-4 pm. Then I stop at Winnipeg for a July 7 reading with Matt Cahill and others at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Before I leave for the coast I get to play in this year’s Something Else! Festival in Hamilton. Thanks to Cem Zafir for moving to Hamilton and making all this possible!

Not only did John O’Neill at Black Gate Magazine write a generous review of The Midnight Games, he invited me to write a Black Gate blog post about it.

OK, back to working on my dissertation on Toronto Improvised Music for the School of English & Theatre Studies at U of Guelph  ….

January 2016

January 2016: Thanks to the folks at Wolsak & Wynn and ChiZine for organizing the Toronto debut of The Midnight Games, January 20 at The Round Venue, 152a Augusta Avenue.  It was an invaluable chance to read my work for a whole new audience, sharing the evening with fellow author Matt Cahill and musician Kari Maaren.


Response to the book has been gratifying—recently I especially enjoyed doing my first-ever school visit, talking about Midnight Games and the hows and whys of writing—thanks to Karen Weber, at Aldershot High School in Burlington. Amy Kenny interviewed me about The Midnight Games for the Hamilton Spectator —on Halloween no less!—and the Globe and Mail’s Patrick White did an insightful Facebook posting about the book. In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that Patrick is my nephew, but he actually managed to nail an important aspect of the book: “I don't think I'm giving away too much away,” he writes, “in saying that, from now on, every time I drive by Hamilton, I will think less about industrial decay and more about huge, writhing tentacles emanating from the skies over Ivor Wynne.”


Also thanks to Albuquerque, NM writer Mark Weber, whose end-of-year entry on his blog/newsletter Jazz for mostly focused on Wolsak & Wynn’s new edition of The Battle of the Five Spot. Mark, I might mention, is a distinctive American poet, music writer, performer and photographer whose photos and writings about west coast music in the 1970s and 1980s have special value in illuminating the contributions of neglected artists. To accompany his 1982 photo of Ornette Coleman and Prime Time, he writes, “I recently reread The Battle of the Five Spot: Ornette Coleman and the New York Jazz Field (2006, 2014) by David Neil Lee, and distance (50+ years) is ideal for historical perspective. This study endeavors to quantify how the opinions and conventions and peer pressure and the dynamics of right place, right time, came together, for better or worse, and how Ornette withstood the powder keg barrage simply because he truly had something of worth to add to jazz. The ground zero paragraph (among many) in this very good book happens on page 34: ‘The more populist tendencies of hard bop, the art music experiments of Third Stream, and the tempered bebop style of cool jazz were all attempts to forge a jazz identity that could move outside of the influence of Charlie Parker. The idea of a technical development of jazz, onward and upward, was stalled behind a barrier of technique.’”

November 2015

November 2015: There is a hip new (mostly used) bookstore in Hamilton. What's more it's on Barton Street, east of downtown. Joel and Mary of The River Trading Company just blogged a very nice piece about The Midnight Games: 


August 2015

August 2015: The new edition of The Battle of the Five Spot coincides with the appearance of a remastered version of the Shirley Clarke film Ornette: Made in America (1985) by Milestone Films in New Jersey. I have arranged with Milestone to show the film at selected readings where I talk about Coleman, his explosive debut at the Five Spot Café in 1959, and the politics and culture of jazz. Thanks to St. Catherines’ Niagara Artists Centre for putting on such an event at their great new rooftop theatre in July. I look forward to doing it as well in Guelph September 20 at Silence as part of the Guelph Jazz Festival, and in Toronto on Friday, September 25 at the Dignam Gallery of the Women’s Art Association of Canada.