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Young Lion

Though only 17, Brandon Lee blows a mighty horn

Likewise, Porter is impressed with Lee's talents: "He seems pretty grounded. His family is pretty supportive, and they're guiding him in the right way. I expect if nothing gets in his way, that when he's in his early twenties, mid-twenties, he'll be at the kind of level that Roy Hargrove is."

Says Dotson: "He's a quiet kid. He may never gain the notoriety of a Roy Hargrove, even though to me he's every bit of a prodigy. In my opinion, if he keeps on the way he's going, he will be an even better player [than Hargrove]."

The comparison to Hargrove isn't surprising. Hargrove signed a record contract with RCA/Novus when he was 19; even before then, while he was still in high school, the trumpeter had a buzz around him in Dallas that was deafening. Hargrove, now 29, came along when jazz was being overrun by young lions with record deals; every player under 25 with a baby face and some chops seemed to get a contract and promotional tour. Some, such as Hargrove, Joey DeFrancesco and Christian McBride, had the talent, substance and maturity to warrant the attention -- and handle the pressures of leadership. Others, like Christopher Hollyday, the Harper Brothers and Marlon Jordan, clearly were not ready to be leaders.

Send 17-year-old trumpeter Brandon Lee shots of Diet Slice when at Cezanne this weekend.
Deron Neblett
Send 17-year-old trumpeter Brandon Lee shots of Diet Slice when at Cezanne this weekend.

The "young lion" is still a powerful marketing concept in jazz, and record labels, like vultures, will circle around the latest fresh face with talent. For his part, Lee, who plans to attend college in New York City next year, has his head and his ego in check. "My goal is to be able to make some money doing what I like to do, and I like performing," Lee says. "I would really like to Š when I get out of college, get picked up by a group and start off and start trying to make it. If that doesn't happen, I really want to teach younger people what I know. I want to give out the knowledge that I have about jazz."

Some, like Dotson, believe Lee will make it in the Big Apple. "There's no lacking in his talent or his intelligence," says Dotson. "All he needs is the desire to play. He's got the tools to be a success in whatever he wants as a player. There are so many different directions he can go."

Brandon Lee performs with Malcolm Pinson's Jazz Warriors on Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, at Cezanne, 4100 Montrose, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, call (713)522-9621.

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