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.
Track Listing: 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.
Personnel: ELEW: piano; Reginald Veal: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.