Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


Gregory Lewis: Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite

Roger Farbey By

Sign in to view read count
Gregory Lewis has been fairly obsessed with the music of Thelonius Monk from a young age when he first started out performing Monk's repertoire on piano. So the adopted moniker Organ Monk seems appropriate. His move to the Hammond B3 was significant because the style he evinced is remarkably close to that of the late Larry Young rather than say that of, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff or Jimmy McGriff.

The longest track at nearly twenty minutes, "The Chronicles of Michael Brown" possesses a haunting theme which bookends some exhilarating soloing from Reggie Woods on tenor, Riley Mullins on trumpet and especially Marc Ribot on, at times, excoriating guitar. Lewis himself is no slouch and provides a perfect wash of B3 tonal colour. Two trio numbers follow; the lively "Trayvon" dedicated to Trayvon Martin and the more reflective "Aiyana Jones Song," benefitting from a hauntingly memorable melody with excellently fluid George Benson-like guitar from Ron Jackson. On the lugubrious "Eric Garner," Ribot again evinces some stunning guitar work whilst Nasheet Waits provides vibrant drumming underpinned by Lewis's omnipresent Hammond.

The Fifth and Sixth movements are named after Ausar, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. Ausar is also the nominal donor of the Pan-African religious organization founded in 1973 by Ra Un Nefer Amen known as the Ausar Auset Society. Important in promoting the African origins of Christianity, it also promulgates the virtues of order, temperance, and justice over jealousy, envy and hatred. So Lewis's suite is not just concerned with vilification but also with redemption. "Ausar And The Race Soldiers" is a perfect example of tension and release, the latter giving way both to keen ensemble playing and forceful solos from Woods, Jackson and Lewis. The finale, "Asuar and the Race Soldiers (Reprise)" benefits from two drummers and induces an almost mesmeric state courtesy of a repeated organ motif ceding to an effervescent solo from Lewis before reverting to the obligato vamp and a climactic ending.

This is not the first jazz album to protest against the treatment of some of its black American citizens. Other notable examples include Max Roach's We Insist! Freedom Now Suite, Charles Mingus's Fables of Faubus and Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige. With Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite Lewis has produced a work of outstanding merit and thus proven he now should be regarded as a major force in contemporary jazz, both in terms of compositions and execution.

Track Listing: First Movement: The Chronicles of Michael Brown; Second Movement: Trayvon; Third Movement: Aiyana Jones Song; Fourth Movement: Eric Garner; Fifth Movement: Ausar and the Race Soldiers; Sixth Movement: Asuar and the Race Soldiers (Reprise).

Personnel: Gregory Lewis: Hammond B3 organ; Marc Ribot (1,4), Ron Jackson (2,3,5): guitar; Reggie Woods: tenor saxophone (1,4,5); Riley Mullins: trumpet (1,4,5); Nasheet Waits (1,4,6), Jeremy 'Bean' Clemons (2,3,5,6): drums.

Title: Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Double Down" CD/LP/Track Review Double Down
by James Nadal
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Langen ro" CD/LP/Track Review Langen ro
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Open Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Secret Language" CD/LP/Track Review Secret Language
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Everybody Loves Angels" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody Loves Angels
by Henning Bolte
Published: October 26, 2017