Co-founders Dennis Davison (ex-United States of Existence) and Jonathan Lea (ex-Revolver) originally met in 1986 after Lea answered an ad Davison had placed in a local paper.
Davison had been looking for a lead guitarist to join his then-current band Playground, whose members had moved to L.A. from Maryland. The duo's friendship flourished into a longtime partnership thereafter. In 1989, Davison and Lea disbanded Playground and formed Jigsaw Seen. Drummer Teddy Freese (ex-Yipes!, who had a Top 100 hit with their cover of the Beach Boys' "Darlin'," ex-Spanic Boys) joined in 1993, followed by bassist David Nolte(ex-the Last) in 1996. They gigged around L.A., attracting the attention of the New Jersey-based Skyclad Records, which issued their debut album, Shortcut Through Clown Alley, in 1990. This was followed by a five-song EP, My Name Is Tom, in 1991. The band then toured the U.S. (the Smashing Pumpkins even opened for them once). In 1993, Skyclad folded. At the time, Davison and Lea had been compiling Melody Fair: Bee Gees Tribute, a tribute to the early Bee Gees, which featured their cover of the title track. Davison and Lea then brought the project to the L.A.-based Eggbert Records and its successful release in 1994 led to future tribute projects. In the mid- to late '90s, in fact, Jigsaw Seen contributed to several various-artist tribute albums. In 1995, Eggbert released a Hollies tribute album, Sing Hollies in Reverse, which featured their splendid cover of "On a Carousel." They also recorded covers for two Del-Fi tributes: their CMJ-charting cover of "Baby Elephant Walk" was a highlight on Del-Fi's 1996 Henry Mancini tribute Shots in the Dark; and in 1998, their version of "Luci Baines" (originally recorded by Arthur Lee's pre-Love band, American Four) appeared on Delphonic Sounds Today!, a compilation of contemporary artists paying tribute to vintage Del-Fi artists. Their version of the Left Banke's "Desiree" was the lead-off track on 1999's A Tribute to the Left Banke: Shadows Breaking Over Our Heads. Meanwhile, Jigsaw Seen had continued recording tracks for its second full-length album; unfortunately, it would be five years before critically acclaimed Zenith would be released on the band's own Vibro-Phonic label (a year earlier, a various-artists compilation, Listen and Learn With Vibro-Phonic, had been issued to rave reviews). Zenith was nominated for a Best Packaging Grammy and was picked up for distribution in the U.K. and Japan. In April 2001, Davison and Lea's acoustic tour of Great Britain resulted in a limited-edition six-song live CD, Perfformiad I Mewn Cymru (Performance in Wales), released by Vibro-Phonic in August 2001. In addition to his role in Jigsaw Seen, Lea has also played with L.A. pop maven Kristian Hoffman and ex-Bongwater vocalist/actress Ann Magnuson. He also contributed guitar to unfinished Pete Ham studio demos for the posthumous release of 1997's 7 Park Avenue and 1999's Golders Green. Bassist David Nolte has produced and/or co-written albums by David Gray and Maria McKee. Lea and Nolte have also played in Rufus Wainwright's and Dave Davies' (of the Kinks) touring bands. Songs Mama Used to Sing was released in 2002. ~ Bryan Thomas, Rovi