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Lew Soloff

A consummate fixture on the New York jazz scene, Lew Soloff’s career is filled with a rich history of renowned sessions and world-class collaborations. From the time he eased into the east coast world of trend setting musicians in the mid 1960s, Soloff’s creative ventures have resulted in a respected body of work that places him in a category of true accomplishment and keeps his elegant and lyrical signatures in constant demand. Whether interpreting a standard or improvising on an original composition, his phrasing and note choices exemplify his unique voice. Soloff is known as a virtuoso with tremendous range and superior technical command, yet he exudes a wisdom for quietness and melody. Soloff’s expertise includes trumpet, flugelhorn, harmon mute, plunger mute and he is particularly recognized for his work on piccolo trumpet.

Soloff’s current schedule of engagements provides a varied platform for his music. Reaching back to his roots in Latin music, Lew Soloff And The Afro Cuban Ensemble is creating excitement around New York City. One of his early mentors was the acclaimed Cuban bandleader Machito and the lessons learned in that context have become an integral part of Soloff's repertoire. Stepping into the Gillespie tradition of melding American jazz and African-based Cuban rhythms, Soloff adds his own signature to this exciting ensemble, which features timbales, congas, electric bass and keyboards with traditional Cuban-style vocal harmonies. “This is one of the most wonderful bands I have ever played with, full of fire and beauty and capable of going in many directions,” explains Soloff. “When I was 21 and first came to New York I was very lucky to work with Machito, one of the best Afro-Cuban bands around. To top things off, the musical director was the great Cuban instrumentalist Mario Bauzá.”

The Lew Soloff Quartet, an all-star unit, which tours Europe regularly, features Jean-Michel Pilc (piano), Billy Hart (drums) and François Moutin (upright bass). Besides work with his quartet and the Afro-Cuban Ensemble, he is a regular in Carla Bley’s Big Band and remains a founding member, along with leader David Matthews of The Manhattan Jazz Quintet (with 30 recordings to their credit and a faithful following in Japan). Alumni of the quintet reads likes a who’s who of New York’s jazz elite; Steve Gadd, George Young, Charnett Moffett, Eddie Gomez, John Pattitucci, Dave Weckl, Peter Erskine, Danny Gottlieb, Bill Evans and Victor Lewis. Soloff is also part of Matthews’ Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, whose body of work includes nearly 20 album releases.

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“One often chooses to listen on the presumption that it will transcend the infelicities of society, ameliorate anxiety or transport one to another emotional space. If this is the lift one seeks, the pleasures to be derived from the artful trumpet of Lew Soloff [With A Song In My Heart] are guaranteed.” —Zoë Ang, Bomb Magazine

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