One of the premier jazz and Brazilian music vocalists in the San Francisco Bay area, Jennifer Lee has plied her trade regionally while building credits and a discography with local players and industry heavyweights. Born August 6, 1964, in Redwood City, CA, Lee began learning music starting at age four on a piano given to the family by her grandfather. Her mother was very supportive in her music education as Lee practiced piano and guitar while attending Ladera Elementary, La Entrada Junior High, and Woodside and Menlo Atherton High Schools, graduating in 1982. Her piano teacher as a teenager was Glen Spencer; she enrolled at Foothill J.C. and was instructed by Terry Summa and Nile Norton; and she also communed with acclaimed jazz vocalist Kitty Margolis. She then headed for the University of Massachusetts, which she attended up to 1989, playing keyboards in her college jazz bands and later discovering her singing talent. She fell under the influence of Mark Murphy while hearing his performances, and received voice coaching from Jane Sharp for over a decade.
Lee's acknowledged influences include singers Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, and Anita O'Day, as well as instrumentalists João Gilberto, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and R. Carlos Nakai. Her initial recordings were on the compilation Quint-Essential, as she was one of five female singers on this collection organized by Cathi Walkup. Lee performed in the trio called Doce Brazil in the early 2000s with guitarist/arranger Hugo Wainzinger and percussionist Claudio Bebianno. She has also worked with Duncan Moore, Buca Necak, Raul Ramirez, Tripp Sprague, John Shifflett, Tommy Aros, and Jason Lewis. Peter Sprague and Bob Magnusson are the core members of her Southern California band, while John Stowell and Jeff Johnson comprise her Pacific Northwest combo. Her CDs as a leader include Jaywalkin' from 2003 and the 2009 recording Quiet Joy.