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Lewis Porter

Lewis Porter (PhD, Brandeis, 1983) is a jazz pianist, composer (of everything from leadsheets to works for orchestra and soloists), an author, a Professor of Music at Rutgers University in Newark since 1986, and founder and director of the Master's Program in Jazz History and Research there since Fall 1997. A leading scholar and historian of all eras of jazz, he has dedicated his career to raising the standards of jazz scholarship, and to mentoring young scholars worldwide and in his Master's program. Before 1986, he taught full-time at Tufts, and part-time at Brandeis (while earning his PhD there in music history, which he received in 1983). He has also taught part-time at the New School, Manhattan School of Music, Jazz At Lincoln Center, and as a guest at numerous colleges in the US and Europe. He is an author or coauthor of seven books and numerous articles on jazz, and a consultant to record producers, publishers, and producers of jazz radio shows and films. He is a frequent guest on radio (NPR, WNYC, WBGO, etc.), often quoted in print (NY Times, Star Ledger, etc.) and occasionally appears on TV and film (BET, BBC). He was Jazz Talk moderator for 2006-9 at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he organized and led four panels a year. He made numerous media appearances in 2005 about his role in researching and releasing the Monk/Coltrane Carnegie Hall recording. He was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 (under Best Historical Reissue) for his role in producing the boxed set of Coltrane's Atlantic Recordings. Dr. Porter has performed extensively as a pianist—check out VIDEOS where you will see him with Dave Liebman and others. Under MUSIC you will find information about his CDs, and audio samples. The critics rave: "A HELLUVA PIANO PLAYER" (Jazz Times). "(Porter plays) with a lively glitter and amazing sense of assurance." "Mixing experimental with traditional, (he) plays up a storm." "Porter is a deep thinker (whose music is) founded upon depth and cunning use of space." He is also increasingly active as a composer, not only for jazz combos but for larger groups—his three-movement concerto for saxophone and orchestra will be performed by Dave Liebman at Harvard U, April 19, 2012. He is accepting commissions for more such works. These are not "jazz arrangements," but original through-composed pieces influenced by the language of Stravinsky and Prokofiev, as well as jazz.

His first book, Lester Young (1985), appeared in a revised edition in 2005 (University of Michigan Press), with an added photo section and CD guide. Porter edited A Lester Young Reader, coauthored Jazz: From Its Origins to the Present (with Michael Ullman, and Ed Hazell; Prentice-Hall,1992), compiled an anthology of historical articles and his own essays (Jazz: A Century of Change, Schirmer Books, 1997), edited The John Coltrane Reference (Routledge 2008), and published the acclaimed study John Coltrane: His Life and Music (University of Michigan Press, Jan. 1998; Italian and French editions, 2007). The latter book won the 1999 Jazz Research Award from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections, and the Prix du livre de Jazz ("Best Jazz Book of the Year") from the Academy of Jazz in Paris. He is editor of Dave Liebman's autobiography which will be out at the end of 2011. Under PUBLICATIONS you will find more info about these and more.

From 2002-2010 he was editor for a series of books on jazz for the University of Michigan press, and he completed a jazz encyclopedia which was published at Jazz.com. He is editor of the comprehensive ,John Coltrane Reference book (Routledge, 2008). He is founder and formerly co-editor with Professor John Howland of the peer-reviewed journal, Jazz Perspectives, which began publication early in 2007 and quickly became one of the leading journals in the jazz field. His latest project is a blog at WBGO.org entitled "You Don't Know Jazz," where in each installment he presents previously unknown and groundbreaking research on every aspect of jazz from its African roots to the present day.

Lewis Porter has a fast-rising profile as a jazz pianist (Steinway preferred) and keyboardist (Yamaha Motif synthesizer, 76 keys). Known for a free and open attitude, he can contribute to any type of musical situation. His own groups swing like mad, taking a loose, open attitude to standard tunes and to Porter's own original compositions. Porter has appeared in concert with such masters as Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Judi Silvano with Joe Lovano, Jeff Coffin, Jane Ira Bloom, Wycliffe Gordon, Joe Morris, Marc Ribot, George Garzone, Mark Dresser, Gerry Hemingway, Don Friedman, Alan Dawson, Joe Cohn, Gregg Bendian and many others. He is a regular member of the Indian-influenced group Dharma Jazz with Badal Roy, Freddie Bryant, and percussionist Karttikeya. He often amplifies his concert appearances with lectures, workshops, and master classes. Especially in demand are his talks on Coltrane, and his master class for pianists on technique and improvisation. In just the 07-8 school year, Porter was guest lecturer and/or performer at U of Penn, The U of the Arts (Phil., PA), Berklee College, BU, Northeastern, MIT, Worcester Polytechnic U, U of North Texas, Houston High School of Performing and Visual Arts, the public schools in Greece, NY, Eastman School of Music, and William Paterson U. In 2009 he was in Spain, Germany, Israel and Italy.

Piano Solo

Label: Next To Silence Records
Released: 2019
Track listing: What Is This Thing Called Love?; Ragtime Dream; I Loves You Porgy; Blues For Sunset; Birthplace; Through The Clouds; Mixolydia; Body And Soul; For Eddie Harris; Central Park West.

ARTICLE: MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Piano in Solitude

Read "Piano in Solitude" reviewed by Geno Thackara

There are people who play the piano, and then there are some who create a whole other state of consciousness with it. While these three may not be among the more common household names in the jazz world, here they each offer a master class in the craft to make you wonder just why the hell ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Porter and More

Read "Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Porter and More" reviewed by Joe Dimino

The 587th Episode of Neon Jazz is ushered in by the sounds of Lewis Porter on the keys and followed by those of his friend Dizzy Gillespie. From there, we look into Kansas City-born, New York-based trumpeter Dave Scott with a cut off his new CD In Search of Hipness. We then move on to the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Lewis Porter: Piano Solo

Read "Piano Solo" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The solo format is, quite often, a window into an artist's soul. For Lewis Porter, performing all by his lonesome at the piano, it also serves as a showcase for a tripartite balancing act between patience, impulse, and calculated intellect. In an autonomous state, left to his own devices and desires, this pianist-scholar produces music that's ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Dave Liebman: Archives and Improvisations - The Past and the Now of a Life in Jazz

Read "Dave Liebman: Archives and Improvisations - The Past and the Now of a Life in Jazz" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Prolific saxophonist, composer, band leader, and educator Dave Liebman is a living legend, an NEA Jazz Master who has been making waves since the 1970s and never stops growing, learning, and discovering. His autobiography, What It Is (Scarecrow Press, 2012, with Lewis Porter) is an honest probing of his more than half century experience as a ...

Beauty & Mystery

Label: Altrisuoni
Released: 2018
Track listing: Prologue; Birthplace; Bye Bye Blackbird; People Get Ready; Blues For Trane and McCoy; 1919; Chasing Lines; Dazzling Raga; From Giovanni to Jimmy; Day Is Done.

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Lewis Porter: Beauty & Mystery

Read "Beauty & Mystery" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

A somber, modern/Romanticist solo piano “Prologue" beautifully opens jazz scholar, historian, and accomplished pianist Lewis Porter's Beauty & Mystery, his fourth disc as a session leader. Accompanied throughout this often inspired recording by bassist John Pattitucci, sought after Grammy-winner and frequent trio companion drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and high-flying, rep-rising saxophonist Tia Fuller, Porter ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Phil Scarff: Ragas on Saxophone

Read "Ragas on Saxophone" reviewed by Geno Thackara

Plenty of Western players have been inspired by the exotic sounds and qualities of Indian music. It's a much smaller number who've formally studied its classical traditions, however, and fewer still have been successful enough to master the forms and play to the acclaim of Indian audiences. Quick--can you name one off the top of your ...

ARTICLE: MULTIPLE REVIEWS

A Pair From Lewis Porter: Beauty & Mystery/Three Minutes To Four

Read "A Pair From Lewis Porter: Beauty & Mystery/Three Minutes To Four" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Lewis Porter is living proof that the marriage of a wide knowledge base and an open mind makes for a beautifully creative whole. As an esteemed author, a revered academic, a highly respected composer, and a first-rate pianist, Porter operates from a unique, variable-angle vantage point occupied by few others. He knows from whence this music ...


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