Home » Jazz Articles » Take Five With... » Take Five With James Brandon Lewis


Take Five With James Brandon Lewis


Sign in to view read count
Meet James Brandon Lewis:
Saxophonist/composer James Brandon Lewis was exposed to jazz, gospel, and R&B and at an early age began his journey into the realm of music. He attended Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts located in Buffalo NY. Upon graduating, James would continue his musical pursuit At Howard University, where he was blessed to have played with some of the finest musicians in the world, including Benny Golson, Geri Allen, Wallace Roney, Bill Pierce, and many others.

James has toured Japan with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble Performing Concerts to raise money for the tsunami victims. .James also played at the Kennedy Center Honors with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, backing John Legend, k.d. lang, and Vanessa Williams . James Holds a B.M. from Howard University, a Master of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts. James is an alumnus of the Banff Jazz Residency in Canada where he studied with Joshua Redman, Dave Douglas, Tony Malaby, Don Byron, and Hank Roberts. He has also been a featured artist on The Word Network, which boast about 30 million viewers.

James was selected by pianist Matthew Shipp to participate in the Atlantic Center for the Arts 141st residency. James released his debut CD, Moments, in 2010 and is currently working on his second Album Divine Travels, featuring William Parker, Gerald Cleaver and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis.

Tenor saxophone.

Teachers and/or influences?
Wadada Leo Smith, John Lindberg, Matthew Shipp, Charlie Haden, Alphonso Johnson, Charlie Young, Fred Irby, Carol McLaughlin, Famoudou Don Moye, Paul Novros, David Roitstein and so many others

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I realized that music touched my emotional center as a kid, and then the discovery of the many greats of the past.

Your sound and approach to music:
"Music is the healing force" (Albert Ayler). I believe that to be true . My sound and approach are based in emotion and spirituality, having grown up in church, and not just being influenced by the music but observing the affects the music had on the people .

I am always pushing to play my experience, and speak that which I know of myself .

Your teaching approach:
Learn the fundamentals and the rest is up to you to discover, and enjoy.

Your dream band:
William Parker, Gerald Cleaver, and of course bands with my close friends.

Favorite venue:
Any venue that allows me to express who I am.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
The first jazz album I bought was: 1949 Concert & All Stars 1950 1951, by Charlie Parker.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
My sound and translating my emotion to music. There are other things in the works that I am developing.

CDs you are listening to now:
Ornette Coleman, The Complete Science Fiction Sessions(Legacy).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
That word is very interesting, "jazz," but things are progressing.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Allowing people to play their experience.

What is in the near future?
Recording more and touring with trios with William Parker, Gerald Cleaver, Joanna Malfatti and Eric Klerks. Also a woodwind trio I am in with Maryclare Brzytwa and Kevin Robinson Ensemble.

By Day:
I am constantly in search of beauty and the meaning behind the notes, and am driven to play my own experience.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Photo Credit

Courtesy of James Brandon Lewis

< Previous

Next >
Bach Sonatas




For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Jazz article: Take Five with Tap Dancer Petra Haller
Jazz article: Take Five with Pianist Shereen Cheong
Jazz article: Take Five with Saxophonist Nick Stefanacci
Jazz article: Meet Tubist Jim Shearer
Take Five With...
Meet Tubist Jim Shearer


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.