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Album Review

James Brandon Lewis Quartet: Molecular Systemic Music Live

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James Brandon Lewis Quartet: Molecular Systemic Music Live
With Molecular Systemic Music Live, saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and his quartet present the compositions of his 2020 album Molecular. The difference is that things are a good deal more stretched out. The music has gone from a single CD to a two CD package. With the extended tunes, the musicians—especially pianist Aruán Ortiz—get more opportunity to explore the permutations of the compositions, and the compositions have more fire, more searing energy. The music is freer.

Opening with "A Lotus Speaks"—the same tune that started the music rolling on Molecular—Lewis displays a stinging saxophone tone inside the rhythm section's clamor. It is an ominous march, as if bad intentions are coming this way, and it says that the James Brandon Lewis Quartet is staking out its ground as one of the more distinctive and assertive saxophone-led quartets on the market.

Recorded live in Zurich in May of 2021, the music bursts with pent-up energy, possibly from the Covid-caused, year-long inability to play before an audience.

"An Anguish Departed," which opens the second CD, brings John Coltrane's great quartet to mind, with the aching sadness of "Alabama" (from Coltrane's Live At Birdland (Impulse,1964) album, while Disc 2's closer, "Breaking Code" tumbles into an up-tempo romp in which Lewis takes his turn to scorch the air.

Lewis says that his Molecular Systemic Music approach to jazz is a "braiding together the fundamentals of music with molecular biology. It is a system built on five pillars of understanding and continued scholarship in Metaphor, Intuition, Semiology, Music and Molecular Biology." As with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and saxophonist Ornette Coleman, things get deep with the thinking behind the act of the creation. But what is not deep is the fact that James Brandon Lewis is pushing the art forward with his Molecular Systemic Music Live, in his leading of one of the premier saxophone- and-a-rhythm-section quartets.

Track Listing

CD 1: A Lotus Speaks; Helix; Of First Importance; Molecular. CD 2:An Anguish Departed; Cesaire; Neasha; Loverly; Breaking Code.

Personnel

James Brandon Lewis: saxophone, tenor; Aruán Ortiz: piano; Brad Jones: bass; Chad Taylor: drums.

Album information

Title: Molecular Systemic Music Live | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Intakt Records


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