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Lewis, James Brandon (Lewis / Branch / Stewart / Pirog / Crudup III): An Unruly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)

New York tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis leads a quintet with Jaimie Branch on trumpet, Luke Stewart on bass, Anthony Pirog on guitar, and Warren Trae Crudup III on drums, in a free jazz album dedicated to Charlie Haden & Ornette Coleman and Surrealism, modern creative music with one foot planted in the 70s and one in the 2010s.

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product information:

UPC: 5902249001273

Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR 1078
Squidco Product Code: 26810

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at The Jackfields, on March 9th, 2018, by Mike Reina.


James Brandon Lewis-tenor saxophone

Jaimie Branch-trumpet

Luke Stewart-bass

Anthony Pirog-guitar

Warren Trae Crudup III-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"James Brandon Lewis (b.1983 Buffalo NY) is a critically acclaimed saxophonist, composer, recording artist and educator . Lewis has received accolades from New York Times, Q Magazine and cultural tastemakers such as Ebony Magazine, who hailed him as one of the "7 Young Players to Watch" in todays scene. Lewis has shared stages with Ken Filiano, Darius Jones, and Jason Hwang, William Parker, Hamiet Bluiett , Hamid Drake , Ravi Coltrane , Jimmy Heath Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Joe Lovano Dave Douglas, Marc Ribot, Anthony Coleman and many others. James Brandon Lewis Lewis has been endorsed by Jazz legend Saxophonist Sonny Rollins " Promising young player with the potential to do great things having listened to the Elders". - Jazz Magazine (France). New York Times had this to say about Lewis " James Brandon Lewis , A Jazz Saxophonist in his 30's, Raw Toned But Measured, Doesn't sound steeped in current jazz academy values There's an Independence about him." James Brandon Lewis Leads numerous ensembles and is the Co- Founder of Poetry Music Ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders Lewis attended Howard University and holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts."

-James Brandon Lewis Website (

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"Jaimie Breezy Branch (born 17 June 1983) is an American jazz trumpeter and composer.

Branch was raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn and started playing trumpet at age nine. At 14, she moved to Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago, before attending the New England Conservatory of Music (graduating in 2005). Later she moved back to Chicago, working as a musician, organizer and sound engineer on the local music scene, including with Jason Ajemian (on The Art of Dying, 2006), Keefe Jackson's Project Project (on Just Like This, 2007), and Tim Daisy' s New Fracture Quartet (on 1000 Lights, 2008), Anton Hatwich and Ken Vandermark. She has performed in Chicago and New York with her trio Princess, Princess, with bassist Toby Summerfield and drummer Frank Rosaly, and in trios with Tim Daisy and Daniel Levin, Matt Schneider and Jason Adasiewicz, and with Chris Velkommen/Sam Weinberg. Together with Jason Stein, Jeb Bishop and Jason Roebke, she founded the band Block and Tackle. To jazz she has contributed on five albums between 2006 and 2008.

In 2012 Branch moved to Baltimore, where she earned a master's degree in Jazz performance from Towson University. At this time she also founded the record label Pionic Records, where she releases the music of her group Bomb Shelter. In New York she has worked with Brandon Lopez, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Mike Stolthet among others. In addition, she performed on albums with the independent rock groups Never Enough Hope, Local H and Atlas Math. Currently, she works in a quartet with Chad Taylor (drums), Jason Ajemian (bass) and Tomeka Reid (cello), as well as with Brandon Lopez, Mike Pride, Shayna Dulberger and Weasel Walter, and with Yoni Kretzmer and Tobey Cederberg. She names Don Cherry, Axel Dörner, Booker Lite and Miles Davis among her musical influences. In 2017 she released her debut solo album, Fly or Die, with Tomeka Reid, Jason Ajemian, Chad Taylor, Matt Schneider (guitar), Ben LaMar Gay, and Josh Berman (cornet)."

-Wikipedia (

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"Luke has pursued a vast number of creative projects over the years. He plays bass and saxophone with DC-based indie rock band Laughing Man, who has performed at historic venues in the city including the Black Cat and St. Stephen's Church, opening for national acts such as The Evens, Wavves, Junkyard Band, and Wale. He has also played saxophone with his own experimental group Ziggurat, as well as various special collaborative performances throughout the East Coast.

As an electronic artist, he has been showcased in local exhibitions alongside legendary hip hop artist Grap Luva, and DC beatmaker Damu the Fudgemunk. He has also been a participant of Sonic Circuits' Festival of Experimental Music, performing on the same bill as cellist Okkyung Lee, as well as performing in other venues alongside instrument builder Layne Garrett and saxophonist Sam Hillmer (Diamond Terrifier). He is also a member of experimental electronic trio Mind Over Matter, Music Over Mind, which has participated in numerous festival performances, including Sonic Circuits' Festival and Noise Fest at George Mason University.

On the jazz side, Luke has performed at many of DC's historic venues including Bohemian Caverns, Twins Jazz, and HR-57. He had the honor of studying and performing with saxophonist Hamiett Bluiett. Recently he lead a 12-member ensemble in an hour-long tribute to John Coltrane on his birthday at the legendary Bohemian Caverns. He is also a member of Trio OOO, a collaborative ensemble featuring saxophonist Aaron Martin, and drummer Sam Lohman.

More recently he has helped establish, a DC-based jazz website and 501c3 non-profit organization, as its Avant Music Editor. Through the site, he has helped launch a live jazz performance series dubbed the "DC Jazz Loft", presenting some talented jazz artists in and around the DC area. He has also presented other jazz performances in his "Red Door Loft" series at the now-closed Goldleaf studios, as well as shows at CD Cellar in Arlington, VA, Bossa Bistro and Lounge, and DIY space the Paperhaus, where his performance curation was picked by Bob Boilen as one of the best shows of 2012.

He is also an Artist-In-Residence at the art space Union Arts and Manufacturing, in Washington, DC, where he regularly rehearses his numerous musical projects as well as hosts special performances and workshops.

During the day, he is the Production Coordinator for WPFW 89.3FM, as well as the host of THE VIBES edition of Overnight Jazz, weekly eclectic jazz program which showcases music from various sources in Luke's musical explorations. Through WPFW he has had the privilege of working with some seminal figures in music and social justice such as Chuck Brown, Yusef Lateef, Randy Weston, Muhal Richard Abrams, Juma Sultan, and Amiri Baraka. He has had the opportunity of producing many successful programs including a month-long commemoration of Black Music Month., featuring notably the reunion of trombonist Phil Ranelin and saxophonist Wendell Harrison from the Tribe organization of Detroit. He also co-produced a month-long tribute to pianist Horace Tapscott Los Angeles based community organization UGMAA (Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension). He also produced Washington, DC's first live radio appearance of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on the program Jazz and Justice with Tom Porter."

-Luke Stewart Website (

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"Born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, but raised in the D.C. suburb of Vienna, Virginia, guitarist Anthony Pirog first came to national prominence as one half of the instrumental duo Janel & Anthony, with virtuoso cellist Janel Leppin. The pair's 2012 Cuneiform release Where Is Home garnered critical acclaim for their seamless electro-acoustic fusion of myriad styles, ranging from classical and folk to rock and jazz. Pirog's own multi-faceted approach to the guitar has its roots in the music of regional favorites like Danny Gatton, whose virtuosic fretwork similarly combined numerous styles of popular music.

Pirog has performed with a wide variety of musicians, ranging from avant-garde icons like Henry Kaiser, Elliott Sharp and William Hooker to roots and rockabilly legends such as Billy Hancock, Bill Kitchen and Tab Benoit. He has even played with ex-Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chambelain in the power trio Skysaw. He currently leads a number of ensembles, from trio to septet."-Troy Collins

-Point of Departure (

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Warren "Trae" Crudup III is a Washington, DC drummer and improviser, influenced by drummers Elvin Jones, Milford Graves, or Paul "Buggy" Edwards. He is known for his work with poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, saxophonists James Brandon Lewis, and Brian Settles.

-Squidco 11/26/2021

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track listing:

1. Year 59: Insurgent Imagination 1:00

2. An UnRuly Manifesto 11:44

3. Pillar 1: A Joyful Acceptance 0:32

4. Sir Real Denard 8:39

5. The Eleventh Hour 9:21

6. Pillar 2: What Is Harmony 0:35

7. Escape Nostalic Prisons 4:18

8. Haden Is Beauty 8:25

9. Pillar 3: New Lived, Authority Died 0:22

sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"An Unruly Manifesto is an album dedicated to Charlie Haden and Ornette Coleman and Surrealism. Lewis describes this album as a call to action. " Everyday is a chance to discover the truest version of your self and charge after that relentlessly".-Relative Pitch

"There's no easy shorthand for James Brandon Lewis' musical M.O. Ever since his early releases - 2010's Moments, 2014's Divine Travels - the saxophonist has balanced a deep, gospel-informed spirituality with free-jazz abandon and hard-hitting funk-meets-hip-hop underpinnings.

"Sir Real Denard," a track from his new album An UnRuly Manifesto, shows how adept he's become at bridging different approaches. On one hand, it's a fierce rhythmic workout driven by the tireless bass-drums team of Luke Stewart and drummer Warren "Trae" Crudup III, both of whom also appeared on Lewis' 2016 effort No Filter; on the other, it's a platform for some heady, avant-leaning improv from the leader, guitarist Anthony Pirog (who turned up on a couple No Filter tracks and also works with Fugazi offshoot the Messthetics) and trumpeter Jaimie Branch.

The piece begins with a simple two-note riff, layered over Crudup's fleet, Stubblefield/Starks-esque beat. One by one, the members of the band take their turn at the fore, contrasting propulsive thrust with abstract grit. Stewart's bass feature builds from crisp, in-the-pocket figures to weird squiggles of sound, while Pirog's solo sounds like a nimble shred episode being swallowed up by a cloud of psychedelic noise. Branch offers up a fierce attack marked by static-y rasps, leading into Lewis' own powerhouse feature, which combines R&B muscle with bebop agility. Eventually, all the players swirl their sounds together, hinting at and playing off the track's central groove.

Like Radiant Imprints - Lewis' outstanding 2018 duo album with percussionist Chad Taylor, which featured reinterpretations of John Coltrane's work - An UnRuly Manifesto looks to the past for inspiration. Lewis writes on Bandcamp that it's "an album dedicated to Charlie Haden & Ornette Coleman and Surrealism." "Sir Real Denard" takes its title from one of Coleman's given names (the musician was born Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman) and a play on the word "surreal," a nod to Coleman's involvement in the 1982 surrealist writing anthology Free Spirits: Annals of the Insurgent Imagination. Eminent bassist and frequent Coleman collaborator Haden taught Lewis at Cal Arts.

But even a listener familiar with Coleman's own long-running funk-oriented project Prime Time, whose sometime bassist Jamaladeen Tacuma appeared on Lewis' 2015 album Days of FreeMan, wouldn't be likely to peg this as an overt homage. As "Sir Real Denard" shows, Lewis' aesthetic, like those of his heroes, contains multitudes.

Though it's not stated overtly, An UnRuly Manifesto also honors another late figure: Mike Panico, co-owner of Relative Pitch, the Brooklyn label that released the album. Tragically, Panico committed suicide in October 2018, and Manifesto was one of the last projects he had worked on along with his label partner Kevin Reilly.

"Mike Panico believed in the power of music," Lewis tells Rolling Stone in an e-mail. "He was super excited about this record and felt like it could touch many lives. His enthusiasm for music was intoxicating and that made me want to work with him. This is one of the last records he was able to put out, and for that I am thankful he believed, but the music is also a reminder of how beautiful he was as a person."

"-Hank Shteamer, Rolling Stone

Get additional information at Rolling Stone
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