Lee Wuthenow, is without a doubt the leading tenor saxophone player in the metropolitan Portland area, which actually reaches into Southern Washington south and as far as Eugene Oregon.
Born in Seattle Washington in 1946, Lee says, “There was always music in our home. I grew up in both Jazz and Classical music. Lee’s mother played piano. His first connection to jazz was hearing Benny Goodman’s ‘Sing, Sing, Sing.’ Lee bugged his folks to take lessons and began learning the clarinet. Lee said, “After two years, I heard a Stan Getz record and everything changed after that. Lee was playing alto saxophone, not tenor at that time. Lee went to the University of Washington, where he played in the concert band. Also Lee studied briefly at the Cornish Institute with Seattle trumpet and tenor sax player Floyd Standifer and tenor sax Bob Winn, who were influenced by noted ’50s pianist Lennie Tristano. Standifer and Winn were instrumental in helping Lee get a solid and varied jazz background. Lee found the Seattle scene quite cliquish but jobs did develop including, Lee’s first gig on the road in Yakima. The Yakima job wanted a tenor player, that’s when Lee changed from alto to tenor.
Lee was playing with the popular 70s jazz group Mini-Macs and another group Three-Play, playing club around Portland. Lee has been featured on some two dozen, recordings of: Art Abrams Swing Machine, Tall Jazz, Ed Bennett, Phil Goldberg, Jean Ronne, Kacy Colleen, Mary Kadderly, Ellen Vanerslice, John Gilmore, David Cooley, Tom Grant and nationally recognized Dave Frishberg. Some of the great musicians that Lee has played with are: David Friesen, Anita O’Day, Diane Shuur, Howard Roberts, Walter Bridges, Woody Hite, Art Brams, Rebecca Kilgore, Phil Goldberg, Tom Grant, Mel Brown and many others.