b. Brian Colin Dee, 21 March 1936, London, England. Although he worked for a while as a textile salesman with a leading British store group, Dee’s heart was in jazz and he first became a figure prominent on the London jazz scene in 1959. This was the year that he played piano at Ronnie Scott’s newly opened club in Gerrard Street and thus had an important role in helping establish the club as the UK’s leading jazz venue. He became a member of the group, Jazz Five, with which he toured the UK opposite Miles Davis. In 1960, Dee was voted New Star by Melody Maker and was soon ensconced at the Establishment Club where he led his own trio opposite Dudley Moore’s. During the late 60s and into the early 70s, Dee also sometimes played organ. At the end of the 60s he began working in recording and broadcasting studios, a career move that he followed during the 70s and 80s. During these decades, he sometimes broadcast with his own trio but was also active in recording studio orchestras accompanying many artists including Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Johnny Mercer. Meanwhile, he continued playing jazz, mostly at London venues, where the musicians he worked with included Chet Baker, Benny Carter, Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Victor Feldman, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster and Joe Williams. During the 90s, Dee worked with the Ted Heath Orchestra under Don Lusher, with Laurie Johnson’s London Big Band, and also accompanied yet more visiting American jazzmen such as ex-Ellingtonians Bill Berry, Buster Cooper and Marshal Royal. He was also sought after to accompany on record, at clubs and festivals singers such as the Cunninghams, Elaine Delmar, Barbara Jay and Rosemary Squires. Dee has performed and recorded with Perfect Pitch, a six-piece band formed by Dee’s trio (Mario Castronari (bass), Bobby Worth (drums)) with Dick Morrissey, Peter King and Jim Mullen.
Although influenced early in his career by pianists Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and McCoy Tyner, Dee quickly developed a distinctive playing style of his own. Inventive, stylish, always listening and swinging, he quickly became enormously well respected by his fellow musicians, a respect that has grown over the years. Dee’s career choices, however, notably his long years in London, has meant that he is not as well known to international audiences as his rich talent deserves. Nevertheless, as the new millennium started there were signs that this was about to change. After a long career as a dedicated supporting player to other artists, including mid-90s appearances on record with Tony Coe, Harry Allen and George Masso, Dee’s recording as leader on It’s Always Like This, helped raise his profile. Also, because all the tracks on this set are his original compositions, attention was drawn to another important facet of his abilities. Also helping attract attention around the world was an appearance on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz series and, at the end of 2000, albums were in production that found him in duo format with Bruce Adams, Delmar and Duncan Lamont, having previously appeared on the latter’s ’Swonderful.