James Brandon Lewis Trio Dazzle On UK Debut At Ronnie Scott's

 TD-James-Brandon-Lewis-07

After a stellar performance for a sold-out audience John McLaughlin had more than earned the right to an early night, but his presence at the side of the stage is a notable endorsement for the group that follows him. Put simply, the guitar legend is seriously feeling the James Brandon Lewis Trio. But the young Americans, making their UK debut, construct a formidably fierce wall of sound that is hard to ignore, even for superstar musicians enjoying the sanctuary of a dressing room.

Tenor saxophonist Lewis, bass guitarist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren 'Trae' Crudup make their intentions very clear by way of the title of their debut album in any case. No Filter unveils a raw, rugged, uncut and uncompromising aesthetic, and that is exactly what the players deliver. The sheer hardness of their attack has the front row initially leaning back, eyebrows raised and then heads nodding in hypnosis when the full force of the music really starts to kick in.

TD-James-Brandon-Lewis-09

What JBL trio does so compellingly is show the roots of hip hop in funk and jazz, making the very important point that the kick drum-led 'boom bap', that heartbeat throb that has come to mould pop music in the millennium, is part of a wider rhythmic lexicon that includes a more fluid swing and the loose, floating 'free' metre associated with the avant-garde. The cohesion with which all these enduring historical elements are handled is enhanced by the 'live mixtape' format of the set whereby half a dozen pieces, which include 'Lament For JLew', 'Raise Up off Me', 'Zen' and 'Able Souls Dig Planets', form a suite that unfurls like a long exhalation of energy marked by careful hiccoughs.

Lewis, whose previous release Divine Travels saw him work with veterans William Parker and Gerald Cleaver, has a wrought iron tone and punchy phrasing that references as much the instrumental R&B tradition as it does jazz, and in many ways his ability to create riffs that have the feel of 'breaks' serves as a potent reminder of both the ingenuity of players like Eddie Harris in the 1970s and the visionary use of horn samples by Public Enemy in the 1980s. JBL's immersion in hip hop is reflected by a very personal way of sculpting timbres to create a distortion that sounds uncannily like a DJ's 'backward scratch'.

Bassist Stewart also pushes his sound into interestingly undefined spaces, using electronics to fashion sometimes very austere, spectral resonances that have an industrial rock flavour, but he also impresses for the sharpness of his movement between lower and upper register, and the expert timing with which he hits the unison lines with Lewis. As for Crudup, who drew such a broad smile from McLaughlin, he is a powerful anchor and agitator of rhythm, filling spaces with sufficient additional commentary on the beat without unhinging the ensemble voice. His snare and tom sounds are pleasingly dry, cementing the tough vocabulary of his partners. The closer 'Bittersweet' is a wry, downbeat lament, the calm after the storm, a soothing ballad for an audience that has greatly relished its time in the tremulous eye of the hurricane.

– Kevin Le Gendre 
– Photos by Tim Dickeson

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Kamasi Washington and Donny McCaslin wow at So What’s Next? Festival – Photo Report

Kamasi Washington and Donny McCaslin wow…

Jazz was just the starting point at an eclectic fifth...

Read More.....
Matthew Herbert’s (Anti) Brexit Big Band Receive Government Export Funding

Matthew Herbert’s (Anti) Brexit Big Band…

Jazz-influenced experimental musician, composer, conceptualist and now political protester Matthew...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directors series and tour

Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directo…

Multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney Pine has been announced...

Read More.....
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoustic alchemy at Ronnie Scott’s

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoust…

Mark Guiliana is associated with a certain level of jazz-fusion...

Read More.....
Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

"If you have to ask, you don't know by now...

Read More.....
Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

This month sees two jazz photography exhibitions take place –...

Read More.....
Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Islington Assembly Hall

Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Isli…

Miles Mosley has already started making waves in the UK...

Read More.....
Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth The Fifth Man At Tampere Jazz Happening

Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth…

  A curious sight catches the keenest of eyes on the...

Read More.....
Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings Place Retelling Of Their Traveller's Tale

Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings…

It was during the late 1980s that John Surman (above)...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at Barbican

Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at…

In these turbulent times small things can provide a reassuring...

Read More.....
Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from the EFG London Jazz Festival

Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from t…

This year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

  Though it may have escaped many of the thousands of...

Read More.....
Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfest Berlin

Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfes…

  For his third and final edition of Jazzfest Berlin, the...

Read More.....
Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and club programme highlights as 25th EFG London Jazz Festival gears up

Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and c…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off its milestone...

Read More.....
Tommy Smith goes it alone and together with Brian Kellock

Tommy Smith goes it alone and together w…

Saxophonist Tommy Smith takes his latest project home this month...

Read More.....
Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok Amor unleash improv anarchy at Enjoy Jazz

Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok …

Some festivals cram everything into a single weekend, but Enjoy...

Read More.....
Andy Sheppard, Native Dancer and Beats & Pieces line-up for Cambridge Jazz Fest

Andy Sheppard, Native Dancer and Beats …

The third edition of the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz...

Read More.....
Christian McBride Big Band, Kamasi Washington and Randy Crawford for Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018

Christian McBride Big Band, Kamasi Washi…

The first names have been announced for the 22nd edition...

Read More.....
Saxophonist Steve Coleman Sublimely Elemental At Paris Showcase

Saxophonist Steve Coleman Sublimely Elem…

  As Britain attempts what seems like an ungainly improvisation out...

Read More.....
Love Supreme Jazz Festival Rocks Up To The Roundhouse

Love Supreme Jazz Festival Rocks Up To T…

  With this year's annual event having drawn its biggest audience...

Read More.....
Oli Rockberger Rules The Multi-Genre Roost For Sovereign Launch

Oli Rockberger Rules The Multi-Genre Roo…

Whether exploring a gospel-tinged, hymnic solo introduction, which would have...

Read More.....
Atzmon & Orient House Ensemble Pay Tribute To Legends At Pizza Express

Atzmon & Orient House Ensemble Pay T…

Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble will be presenting...

Read More.....
Ronnie Scott’s Instrument Amnesty Returns

Ronnie Scott’s Instrument Amnesty Return…

Following the success of the inaugural Music Instrument Amnesty in...

Read More.....
Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Dutch with UK and Ireland dates

Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Du…

The unique, internationally renowned Instant Composers Pool Orchestra launches Going...

Read More.....
Martin Taylor and Jazz at The Philharmonic concert to save Swanage Jazz Festival

Martin Taylor and Jazz at The Philharmon…

News that this year's 28th edition of the Swanage Jazz...

Read More.....
Nérija, Dinosaur and Jim Mullen among Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Nérija, Dinosaur and Jim Mullen among Pa…

The 13th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place for the...

Read More.....
Hugh Masekela withdraws from Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya concert due to ill health

Hugh Masekela withdraws from Abdullah Ib…

Revered South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela has announced that, due...

Read More.....
Dee Byrne's Entropi Radiate Amid Rough And Tumble At Kings Place Album Launch

Dee Byrne's Entropi Radiate Amid Rough A…

  The most striking thing about Moment Frozen, the second release from British...

Read More.....
Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach fire-up new Eastside Jazz Club

Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach fire-up …

The opening night of Birmingham's new Eastside Jazz Club featured...

Read More.....
James Taylor And Soweto Kinch Among Poetic Masters Of Rhythm And Rhyme At 2017 Limerick Fest

James Taylor And Soweto Kinch Among Poet…

  The Limerick Jazz Festival continues to spring surprises, and to...

Read More.....
Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach, Christine & Ingrid Jensen and Mark Turner head to Birmingham’s Eastside Jazz Club

Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach, Christine …

Jazz in the Midlands got a huge boost with the...

Read More.....
Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday Bash A Blast At Birmingham's CBSO Centre

Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday B…

  In celebration of his 80th year, the composer and arranger...

Read More.....
Mike Carr – 1937-2017

Mike Carr – 1937-2017

Mike Carr, who died on 22 September aged 79, was...

Read More.....
Jazz FM's Sarah Ward, Chris Philips and Nigel Williams up for radio  awards

Jazz FM's Sarah Ward, Chris Philips and …

Two of Jazz FM's longest serving presenters, DJs Sarah Ward...

Read More.....
Joon Moon Exclusive stream of ‘Moonshine Corner’

Joon Moon Exclusive stream of ‘Moonshine…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival features a performance by...

Read More.....
Westbrook and Wakeman line up with the Uncommon Orchestra for A Bigger Show

Westbrook and Wakeman line up with the U…

Although Mike and Kate Westbrook are based in the West...

Read More.....

ABJazzWise


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Tyshawn Sorey soundtracking Friday's dark-tidings again. Check out him on the youtube link and then grab a listen t… https://t.co/oebOEqxWRe
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@MusicClerk @AbstractTruth @outandgonemusic @astspiritsrec @KirkdaleBooks @Shawn_Galvin @frozenreeds Sounds like the Brexit National Anthem
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA