218

John Lewis: Evolution II

Craig Jolley By

Sign in to view read count
Together with Thelonious Monk and Tadd Dameron John Lewis defined the art composition for the bop generation. Beyond that he led a jazz ensemble for many years, acted as musical director for festivals and concerts, pioneered the fusion of European classical music with jazz, served as a music educator, sponsored young, unknown musicians in their first recordings, organized a series of recordings that presented veteran jazz musicians in unusual and favorable circumstances, and accompanied horn players and singers on piano. He attained the highest level in all these activities. Because of his understated style he is often overlooked as a piano soloist, but of course he excelled there as well. Evolution II, his last record, focuses on John Lewis, recomposer of his own music and piano soloist/spontaneous composer.

As always his piano lines are fresh, inspired, and uncrowded. (The secret of Lewis' music is preparation and space.) Lewis plays gorgeous introductions (another area of mastery) and tags to many of the pieces. The repertoire is varied—mostly vintage Lewis pieces in new guises. Two have new titles: "The Festivals" was recorded as "In a Crowd" and "December, Remember" is based on "Winter's Tale." There are a couple of what I believe are new tunes—"Cain and Abel" with an Old World flavor and "Sammy." "Afternoon in Paris" is taken brighter than usual but retains its bittersweet feel. The march section of "Trieste" has been transplanted to "Afternoon in Paris," a piece which also includes a some piano counterpoint and a lick from "The Marseilles." "Django" is presented over a staggering tango with the blues section heavily syncopated. "The Festivals" and "What Is This Thing Called Love" are more intense as Lewis cuts loose, driven by Lewis Nash. Lewis first recorded the classic blues "Parker's Mood" with Charlie Parker in 1948. If there was ever any doubt about Lewis' blues playing this cut settles that question.

The accompanying musicians do just that. They are all capable soloists, but here they "just" play with beauty and taste. (Johnson does take some breaks on the old-time blues "Sammy.") Collins and Alden play the dreaded rhythm guitar, but it's light and musical (Barry Galbraith)—not that chunky feel big bands exploit to try to get themselves swinging.

John Lewis Discography:http://www.jazclass.aust.com/lewis1.htm#03


Track Listing: The Festivals; Parker's Mood; December, Remember; Afternoon in Paris; Cain and Abel; Come Rain or Come Shine; Trieste; Django; Sammy; What Is This Thing Called Love.

Personnel: John Lewis-piano; Howard Collins or Howard Alden - guitar; Marc Johnson or George Mraz - bass; Lewis Nash - drums.

| Record Label: Atlantic Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "The Unquiet Sky" CD/LP/Track Review The Unquiet Sky
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Blues and Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review Blues and Ballads
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano" CD/LP/Track Review EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano
by Doug Collette
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Young" CD/LP/Track Review Young
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Parodies: Jazz Music for Violin and Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Parodies: Jazz Music for Violin and Octet
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: March 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!