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James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter

Mark F. Turner By

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James Brandon Lewis's authoritative horn is demonstrated in his cultural influenced releases —gospel spirituality in Divine Travels (Okeh, 2014) featuring bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver; soulful lyricism and hip hop in Days of Freeman (Okeh, 2015) with heavies bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer Rudy Royston. He continues that exploration with a new trio in No Filter an edgy but short LP which pays respect to early 90's hip hop, experimental jazz, and groove.

Lewis's inclination for trios is again at the forefront, this time with bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren G Crudup III, gifted musicians who take no prisoners. This younger crew may not be as recognized as Lewis's older counterparts but their performances speak volumes—gritty, funky electric bass and explosive percussive traps—that make an excellent foil for Lewis's tenor onslaught.

"Say What" broadcasts a raw vamp and a sampled quote expounding that the JBL trio does indeed paint with different colors. In the title track the trio work like punk rockers—punchy bass line, snappy drums and sax honks and noises. Lewis's horn urgently searches the history and present in "Y' All Sleep" with words by Brooklyn rapper P.SO the Earth Tone King and striking lines by guitarist Anthony Pirog.

"Zen" illuminates Stewart's flexing bass in a groove centric vamp while the closing track "Bittersweet" has a bluesy floating hook with singer Nicholas Ryan Gant providing some tasty falsetto jazz scatting. Lewis's No Filter incorporates specific cultural influences while reiterating the truth that art is not one dimensional or opaque.

Track Listing: Say What; No Filter; Y'all Slept; Raise Up Off Me; Zen; Bittersweet;

Personnel: James Brandon Lewis: tenor saxophone; Luke Stewart: bass; Warren G Crudup III: drums; P.SO the Earth Tone King: vocals (3); Anthony Pirog: guitar (3, 6); Nicholas Ryan Gant: vocals (6).

Title: No Filter | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Bns Records


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