As the work of late night talk show host David Letterman is now written into history, I must cite the immeasurable contribution to American culture and the arts by Dave’s unwavering musical stalwarts for his entire thirty-plus year career on late night television: bandleader Paul Shaffer and bassist Will Lee.
Assuming the mantle created by Doc Severinsen’s legendary NBC Orchestra as heard on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson – Paul and Will’s groundbreaking tenure in the World’s Most Dangerous Band brought the language of rock, blues, soul, folk, country, jazz fusion, and funk to the great American Songbook.
I've witnessed Mr. Lee on scores of club dates. Not only is he the consummate sideman – Will’s onstage appearance and boundless displays of enthusiasm regardless of how many people are in the venue is a declaration of the reverence he has for his audience, his craft, and the music.
If you dare answer the call to be a professional bassist, or if you are a weekend warrior who takes the bass seriously – Will Lee is the cat you look up to on and off the bandstand, in the rehearsal room, and in the recording studio!
Will’s work as a solo recording artist and sideman is as exemplary as it is expansive. He’s appeared on thousands of albums, soundtracks, film scores…if you have ears, chances are you’ve heard Will Lee!
Coda: Messrs. Shaffer, Lee, Steve Jordan, Sid McGinnis, the late Hiram Bullock, and Anton Fig – primary members of The World’s Most Dangerous Band / CBS Orchestra, are long overdue for enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Musical Excellence category.