20

Meade Lux Lewis: The Blues Piano Artistry of Meade Lux Lewis

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
Meade Lux Lewis: The Blues Piano Artistry of Meade Lux Lewis In three decades of professional writing, I don't think I've ever used the word "twee." But I'm about to.

Look it up. Dictionary.com says "twee" means "affectedly dainty or quaint." Put another way: Unnaturally cute.

That's the celeste in jazz. It's cute and dainty and thoroughly unnatural. What's more, it's a mood killer. I can't understand why anyone would use it.

You've heard the celeste, even if you don't know it. It sounds like a toy piano. That's the problem. It's about the most un-serious musical instrument I can think of, except maybe a kazoo.

There's a place for the celeste in classical music. Tchaikowsky used it effectively in The Nutcracker. Think of the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies." It's also in Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite."

But lately I've been listening to "The Blues Piano Artistry of Meade Lux Lewis." It was recorded in 1961 and it has 10 tracks. Seven of them are pure barrelhouse, booggie-woogie, solo piano pleasure. It's about as good and rolicking as a solo piano can get.

And then there are three tracks on celeste. Let's just say blues were never meant to be played on a celeste. The CD just stops cold dead at each track.

In fairness, Thelonious Monk used a celeste, too, on his classic "Brilliant Corners" album, five years before Lewis. He did it on one track, "Pannonica." At least he was smart enough to surround himself with other instruments. He plays the celeste with his left hand and the piano with his right. Plus there are two saxophones, drums and bass. And he does lay off the celeste for part of the track. Still, it doesn't sound right.

You have to wonder. Didn't anyone say to Monk or Lewis, "Dude, that's wrong. You sound like a 5-year-old. You sound... twee!"

I wish someone had.

Track Listing: Hammer Chatter; You Were Meant For Me; Celeste Bounce; Bear Trap Stomp; Frompy Stomp; Rough Seas; Madame Vod's Celeste Blues; C-Jam Blues; Fate; Breezing at the Celeste

Personnel: Meade Lux Lewis, piano and celeste

Year Released: 1991 | Record Label: Riverside | Style: Blues


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Tangled CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Is It Me...? CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read 14.11.2016 CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Elevation" CD/LP/Track Review Elevation
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Skylines" CD/LP/Track Review Skylines
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Chicago II" CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Blood" CD/LP/Track Review Blood
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!