A Moment in Music

Gratitude to you all for a wondrous year of growth, learning, and positive music!


Your support has helped to make this year so impactful, and it is worth remembering some of the standout projects that you helped support. 


Selected Studio Work


The TOaG Quartet: Grey and Green

Available on: Bandcamp-Spotify-Tidal-Apple-Amazon

Release Date: May 2018
Produced by: Benjamin Lee 
Recorded at: Airship Laboratories, Richmond, CA 
Recorded and Mixed by: Neil Godbole 

Ricky Carter - Drums 
DV Wright - Guitar, Live Effects 
Matt Kelly - Trumpet 
Benjamin Lee - Upright and Electric Bass, Sampler

"As an assembly of instrumentalists - with Ricky Carter on drums, David Wright on guitar, Matt Kelly on trumpet, and Benjamin Lee on upright and electric bass -  The TOaG Quartet is an Oakland based musical organization inspired by the many lineages of jazz and groove. Striving to be honest to who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go, we pay homage to the work of our elders - who laid the groundwork upon which we stand - while aspiring to spark the mind with truth, and move the spirit with groove. Alongside the tireless service of community music educators, TOaG also works to support arts education by curating jazz clinics for young students, creating a positive space for musical exchange between professionals and pupils." 

From concept to release, Grey and Green was a quick and dirty album adventure that was a tremendous pleasure to produce alongside the masterful Neil Godbole at the wonderful Airship Laboratories.  With the newly formed band meeting just 6 times before cutting this record live in a day, we cranked out this project about as quickly as is humanly possible. The EP is bookended by two tracks - Devil's Breath Part 2 and Little Known and Not Long Remembered - each of which incorporates a different sample of especially poignant historical content. These samples were used as frameworks within which to perform the selected tunes, and were cued live by me in the recording session. The effect, in my opinion, is quite striking, and I hope that you think the same! 


The TOaG Quartet: Live at the Airship 

Release Date: Spring 2019
Produced by: Benjamin Lee 
Recorded at: Airship Laboratories, Richmond, CA 
Recorded and Mixed by: Neil Godbole 

Ricky Carter - Drums 
DV Wright - Guitar, Live Effects 
Matt Kelly - Trumpet 
Benjamin Lee - Upright and Electric Bass, Sampler

Without a doubt, one of the most incredible evenings of this year was the live album recording that The TOaG Quartet tracked at Airship Laboratories, in front of a studio audience. It was a tremendous evening - as those of you who were there know :) - filled with impactful stories, electric moments, and more positive vibes than any of us knew what to do with. I have been in the thick of post production work over the last 4 months, and we are INCHES away from releasing the first full length video from the night, finishing the mixing and mastering, and setting a release date and show for 2019. I am unbelievably proud of the production team for pulling off this endeavor, especially to Neil and his team at Airship, as well as the band for putting up with such a challenging schedule and showing up with their full selves. This album is gonna drop HARD in the next few months, and you are gonna hear about it. . . 

Orbital Quintet: Vol. 2

Available on Bandcamp - Amazon 

Release Date: May 2018
Recorded at: Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA 
Recorded by: Reto Peter
Mixed by: Master Suite Studios 
Mastered by: Ken Lee

John Harrington - Trumpet 
Dave Tidball -Tenor Sax 
DV Wright - Guitar 
Benjamin Lee - Upright Bass 
Kyle Mueller - Drums 

The sophomore release of the Oakland based Orbital Quintet was an experience I will never forget - not least of which because it was recorded at the legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, under the expertise of veteran engineer Reto Peter. We were lucky enough to be joined by veteran saxophonist David Tidball, alongside the rest of the original band - including trumpeter John Harrington and drummer Kyle Mueller at the helm, with guitarist DV Wright and myself Benjamin Lee backing them up. Featuring a brand new set of tunes: including two of my own (Devil's Breath and The Canopy), a gorgeous ballad by Mr. Tidball (Far Removed), and a spontaneous composition (Time and Place) that still gives me chills, this album charts a more focused follow up to Vol. 1. 


The Lucy Project 

Release Date: 2019
Recorded at: Airship Laboratories, Richmond, CA 
Recorded by: Neil Godbole
Produced by: Ben Bell

Ricky Carter - Drums 
Lamar Green - Keys
Benjamin Lee - Upright Bass 
Ben Bell - Vocals 

After disappearing into the woodshed for 18 months, rapper Ben Bell reemerged in a blaze of musical production to finish his 7 act psychedelic hip-hop narrative, and brought together a killer set of musicians to record this unique musical adventure in a live setting. Oakland keys player and producer Lamar Green stepped up alongside our very own Ricky Carter, to flush out the power house trio backing up Mr. Bell. While we are still waiting on the finished product, I am so excited to hear the sounds we laid down at this session. . . 'nough to make the head bob and the stank face take over! 



Release Date: 2019
Produced by: Marque Di Mesa 

Marque - Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Green- Drums 
Benjamin Lee - Electric Bass

Following up on the success of our work in 2017, I am very excited to report that this project forged ahead on half a dozen more tracks this winter and fall.  It was a blast to work through a diverse set of grooves that blend Q's influences from reggae, motown, rock, and folk, and I can hardly wait to hear how the tracks shape up - especially with the deep pockets of Mr. Green. If you haven't checked out his first album, you can do so here, to get a feel for his grooviness. You will absolutely be hearing more about this talented man in the coming year. . . 


Wildlyfe: Rootball

Release Date: 2019
Recorded at: 25th Street Studios, Oakland, CA 
Recorded by: Gabriel Shepard
Produced by: David Tidball and Galen Grant

David Tidball - Tenor/Alto/Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet
Galen Grant - Drums 
Mike Wynar - Guitar
Benjamin Lee - Upright Bass 

2018 was a great year for Oakland based quartet Wildlyfe. The ensemble is ferociously set on creating a buzz in the Bay Area jazz scene with their debut album, Rootball, under the musical direction of woodwind maestro Dave Tidball and drummer Galen Grant. And what an incredible experience it was to track the 8-tune album at the incredible 25th Street Studios! That studio is truly a wonder, and Gabriel was a tremendous presence to work with, as we pushed our way through a seriously challenging set of tunes. I can't wait to hear what sounds Galen and Gabriel finish up for us in the coming year.  You can check out a live performance version of one of the tunes on the album, Silk Road

Projects Rising

Felipe y Las Estrellas del Mar

2018 was a workhorse year for the bay area's newest live Bachata Band. Commanding some tough material, the group broke onto the scene after a huge push to produce their first few videos, and turned out some really amazing content. I am so looking forward to this band booking up a storm in 2019, and making bodies move and groove all over the bay area and beyond. Wanna see what they can do? Check out their teaser video HERE!


Vega Victoria

I was so honored this year to join in the creative endeavors of Swedish American singer songwriter Vega Victoria. Following up on the success of her debut album The Long Embrace - which was produced, recorded, and mixed by Ben Tanner, band member of Alabama Shakes - she is pushing hard on booking, and sharing her beautiful music with the Bay Area. No doubt you will be hearing more about this wonderful lady in the coming year!


Music Education

The TOaG Jazz Clinics at OHS

It is hard to describe how humbled and proud I am of the work that was done to successfully launch the jazz clinic program at OHS this year alongside music department head David Byrd. To date, we have already completed four clinics, each focusing on different core elements of our curriculum, and I can hardly believe it! The students have had a blast working through some particularly difficult tunes, as they expanded their historical knowledge, theoretical and technical skills, and pushed themselves to the very limit of their musical selves. We (the teaching staff) have learned a ton in the last 4 months, and are continuing to refine our program as we gather feedback from our students and mentors.  If you would like learn more about this program, and how you can help it run through the rest of the year, you can visit the program page HERE.



Many thanks for your continued support of a working musician. There are many of us out there, and your direct financial support is critical to sustaining our work. As we move forward into 2019, rest assured that the fruits of our labors will blossom as we look to build on our progress with joy and positivity. At the same time, we will continue to harness our craft to resist the forces that seek to destroy our communities, and silence our voices. In doing so, we honor the work of so many
who came before us. May we all be a force for good. 

Thank you!


"Sound is ephemeral, fleeting, but some sort of a physical manifestation can help you hold on to it longer in time. I'm sure of this; I've always thought the sound that you make is just the tip of the iceberg, like the person that you see physically is just the tip of the iceberg as well."
-- Yo-Yo Ma

Benjamin Lee
Upright and Electric Bass.

Recording. Performance. Lessons


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