Appearances on television (America's Got Talent) and information conferences (TED Talks) have labeled pianist Eric Lewis (aka ELEW) as the next crossover artist who boldly shunned the establishment combining pop and rock music with improvisation. Yet underneath that flamboyant stage persona is the heart of bona fide jazz musician who won the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition and has performed with jazz luminaries Elvin Jones, Wynton Marsalis, and Jeff "Tain" Watts and bassist Reginald Veal. It's a striking showcase of trio dynamic and Lewis's repertoire from hearty swing ("Medicine Man"), hyperactive rhythms ("Ornette") and unique yet memorable covers (Swedish electronic duo The Knife's "Heartbeats").
The program runs the gamut of thundering crescendos in "Quirkwork" where Tain obliterates the kit or delicate nuance in the appealing "Jamaica Girl." Veal weaves the iconic bass line of "My Favorite Things" while Lewis's piano reaches incredible spaces in a fresh rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. The most striking effort is the title track as the trio brings dramatic imprints to actor Harry Lennix's resounding recitation of Mark Antony's speech from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Yet it's back to the streets in "The Philly Groove" with plenty of soul and a heavy backbeat. The ELEW trio does it all quite impressively. This jazz rocks.
Medicine Man; Ornette; Lil Luba; Tones For Elvin Jones; Heartbeats (The Knife); Quirkwork; Jamaica Girl; And To The Republic: Act 3, Scene 2 Of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar ;Monk; My Favorite Things; The Philly Groove.
ELEW: piano; Reginald Veal: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.