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 Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Apprentice" CD/LP/Track Review Apprentice
by Alex Franquelli
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "New Shoots" CD/LP/Track Review New Shoots
by Mike Oppenheim
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Josh At Midnight" CD/LP/Track Review Josh At Midnight
by James Nadal
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "Trane 90" CD/LP/Track Review Trane 90
by Jim Trageser
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Troy Collins
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 6, 2017

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!

Buy it!