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Lewis, James Brandon / Red Lily Quintet (w / William Parker/ Chad Taylor / Kirk Knuffke / Chris Hoff (Tao Forms)

Led by tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and peformed by his Red Lily Quintet with Kirk Knuffke on cornet, William Parker on bass & gimbri, Christopher Hoffman on cello and Chad Taylor on drums & mbira, Lewis' work explores and reflects on the legacy of scientist George Washington Carver through 7 remarkable free jazz compositions.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



James Brandon Lewis-tenor saxophone, composition

Kirk Knuffke-cornet

William Parker-bass, gimbri

Christopher Hoffman-cello

Chad Taylor-drums, mbira


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UPC: 642623800522

Label: Tao Forms
Catalog ID: TAO 005CD
Squidco Product Code: 30254

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Park West Studios, in Brooklyn, New York, in late 2020, by Jim Clouse.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"An astonishing new work from the fertile creative mind of tenor saxophonist-composer James Brandon Lewis. Performed by the Red Lily Quintet, an exceptional & singular inter-generational ensemble, this album speaks to the forever-evolving continuum of the jazz tradition.

Voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist in the 2020 DownBeat Magazine International Critic's Poll, James Brandon Lewis supercharges his remarkable evolution with Jesup Wagon, a brilliant and evocative appreciation of the life and legacy of turn-of-the-19th century African-American musician-painter-writer-scientist George Washington Carver. [Sustainable agriculture was a key component of Carver's prescient thoughts into action; his Jesup Wagon was a key part of that]. This album consists of seven pieces that create a portrait of stunning clarity and depth.

There is so much special about this recording, James' 9th, starting with [on the way in] the lavish artwork, including a reproduction on the cover of Carver's own tantalizing drawing of the Jesup Agricultural Wagon, which is shown in a photograph on the back cover, rendering a dialogue of representation and abstraction that Lewis models in the music. And while liner notes are generally more relied upon than celebrated, Jesup Wagon's are delivered by the great UCLA American historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who in 2009 released the definitive Thelonious Monk biography 'Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original'. His notes, printed lovingly on an ochre background, contain much historical detail about Carver, particularly as they relate to the tunes. The fact that Kelley was willing to write them tells you something about the power of the music on the album, which Kelley calls "a revelation."

If "revelation" is a word commonly used to describe master saxophonists like John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and Dewey Redman, then it fits easily in the horn of James Brandon Lewis, who is a keen student of those and many other elders. But while boundless energy characterizes his playing, it is also grounded by a deep sense of narrative, which is why he is attracted to histories, like Carver's, or to theories like his own Molecular Systematic Music, used on his superb previous 2020 Intakt album, 'Molecular', or to artistic genres such as surrealism, modeled by Lewis on the stunning 'An UnRuly Manifesto' from 2019.

Helping James get it all out on Jesup Wagon is the Red Lily Quintet, anchored by the tectonic rhythm section of bassist William Parker and drummer Chad Taylor, and rounded out by cornetist Kirk Knuffke and cellist Chris Hoffman. Parker, who James says "has looked out for me ever since I arrived in New York City," is a genius of the stand-up bass who performed with grand-master Cecil Taylor for 11 years straight. He is also a renaissance man in his own right. Chad Taylor, "one of the most melodic drummers I've ever played with," James says, is a Chicagoan who has gifted to New York some of the energy and drama the windy city is known for. Kirk Knuffke is one of New York's rare cornet players, using that instrument's impish tone to explosive effect on dozens of records by New York jazz heavies. Chris Hoffman made his bones playing Henry Threadgill's demanding music in a few of the great alto saxophonist's bands, and has worked with artists as diverse as Yoko Ono, Marc Ribot and Marianne Faithful.

James grew up in Buffalo, which he calls a "groove town" of "hard workers" like Grover Washington Jr., Charles Gayle, Rick James, and Ani DiFranco, among them. Starting out on clarinet when he was 9, James moved to alto sax at 12 then tenor at 15. He attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he studied jazz fundamentals, then enrolled at Cal Arts in Southern California, working with greats like Wadada Leo Smith, Charlie Haden, and Joe LaBarbara. Notching his MFA there, he did a residency at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music where he worked with trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Angelica Sanchez and saxophonist Tony Malaby, among others. It was in Banff where he dove into the world of free jazz, continuing in that vein at an Atlantic Center for the Arts residency led by iconic New York City pianist Matthew Shipp.

Shipp and a few others lured him to New York City in 2012, where he quickly fell in with the cutting-edge artists, including drummer Gerald Cleaver and William Parker, that populate the jazz scene there. His second album, 'Divine Travels', released in 2014, featured the latter two musicians. Two albums he made in duets with Chad Taylor - 'Radiant Imprints' (2018) and 'Live in Willisau' (2020) - demonstrated that James had no hesitation dancing on the same wild turf that John Coltrane entered with his latter-day records featuring Rashied Ali on drums, although James says the inspiration was more Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell's duet, 'Red and Black in Willisau', recorded live in 1980. "Chad and I bonded over that one," James says. Either way, it's heady company.

Lewis also has an affinity for the spoken word, demonstrated on Jesup Wagon by a few timely placed short recitations. "Music is enough. But the older I get it's important for me to have the listener hear my speaking voice," he says. "Makes it more organic. I like to tell a story with an album."

Poetry is just one of Lewis' many obsessions, which also include painting, hip-hop and philosophy. "All of the people I admire have that kind of depth," Lewis says. "William Parker, Oliver Lake, Yusef Lateef, all these amazing artists. George Washington Carver was a musician, a painter, a prolific writer, in addition to what most people know about him. Having a broad range just makes the cast iron skillet more seasoned."

And now, in this fraught era, James soon delivers Jesup Wagon, essentially a collection of tone poems - or, as Duke Ellington might have called them, "tone parallels" - Duke being the instigator of this type of programmatic jazz. Poetry in music is what we get in this new masterpiece from James Brandon Lewis, who may well be crowned a master himself in the not-too-far future."-Tao Forms

Also available on vinyl LP.

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 (http://www.jblewis.com/bio/)
4/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Cornetist and Composer Kirk Knuffke is the winner of Downbeat Magazine's "Rising Star"critics poll for 2015. A recipient of the Jerome Foundation composers grant, Kirk has released 15 recordings as a leader or co-leader. "One of modern jazz's most skilled navigators of the divide between inside and outside, freedom and swing", he has "full command of his most demanding instrument" - All About Jazz. Kirk placed in the top five in the World in the El Intruso critics poll and was one of 6 nominees for Trumpeter of the year by the Jazz Journalist Association.

Matt Wilson, Allison Miller, Butch Morris, Uri Caine, Michael Formanek, and many more have hired him as a sideman for over 60 recordings, he has been called "One of New York City's busiest musicians" - New York Times.

Knuffke has been based in NYC since 2005. Shortly after his arrival Knuffke began playing with Butch Morris, this friendship resulted in 4 recordings and several European tours. Kirk joined the celebrated Matt Wilson Quartet in 2009, recording "Gathering Call" (Palmetto) featuring John Medeski and touring each year. 2016 brought Matt Wilson's "Beginning of a memory" Palmetto, which received 5 stars in Downbeat Magazine. Michael Formaneks "The Distance" ECM was also awarded 5 stars this year. Knuffke also plays in "Sifter" with Mary Halvorson and Wilson, Ideal Bread, Allison Miller's "Boom Tic Boom", Todd Sickafoose's "Tiny Resistors" and groups led by Ray Anderson, Uri Caine, Mark Helias, Bill Goodwin, Karl Berger and Ted Brown to name a few. "Arm and Hands" a recent release garnering praise from every major Jazz publication as 4 Stars in Downbeat magazine review and Sunday New York Times. The Following CDs "Little Cross" Steeplechase records and "Lamplighter" Fresh Sound Records have also received much praise. Kirk Has had feature articles in Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, Germany's "Sonic", and Denmark's "JazzSpecial" among others."

-Kirk Knuffke Website (http://kirkknuffke.com/biography.html)
4/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"William Parker is a bassist, improviser, composer, writer, and educator from New York City, heralded by The Village Voice as, "the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time."

In addition to recording over 150 albums, he has published six books and taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians and artists.

Parker's current bands include the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, In Order to Survive, Raining on the Moon, Stan's Hat Flapping in the Wind, and the Cosmic Mountain Quartet with Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and Cooper-Moore. Throughout his career he has performed with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Milford Graves, and David S. Ware, among others."

-William Parker Website (http://www.williamparker.net/)
4/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Christopher is a cellist, composer, producer, engineer and filmmaker. He currently performs in Henry Threadgill's Pulitzer Prize winning ensemble Zooid, Anat Cohen Tentet, Kenny Warren Trio, Tony Malaby, Michael Blake, Darius Jones and his own projects. He has worked with Martin Scorsese, Yoko Ono, Bleachers, Iron & Wine, Ryan Adams, Marianne Faithfull, Michael Pitt & Pagoda, Marc Ribot, Butch Morris, Lee Konitz, Rudy Royston, Anna Webber, Ryan Scott, Anthony Coleman, Jeremiah Cymerman & many others."

-Christopher Hoffman Website (https://www.christopherhoffman.com/new-page-1)
4/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Chad Taylor (b. 1973) is a composer, educator, percussionist and scholar who is a co-founder of the Chicago Underground ensembles. Originally from Tempe, AZ, Chad grew up in Chicago where he started performing professionally at the age of 16. Chad has performed with Fred Anderson, Derek Bailey, Cooper-Moore, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Peter Brotzmann, Malachi Favors and many others. Chad leads his own band Circle down which debut recording was given a 5 star review by All music:

"What is remarkable is that there is no wasted motion, no histrionics or grandstanding, as pure emotion is translated to superlative music making on this most highly recommended recording, one for the ages." Allmusic.com

Chad has a BFA from the New School in Jazz Performance and a MFA in Jazz Research and History from Rutgers University."

-Chad Taylor Website (http://www.chadtaylordrums.net/html/about.php)
4/17/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Jesup Wagon 06:22

2. Lowlands of Sorrow 07:02

3. Arachis 08:29

4. Fallen Flowers 06:48

5. Experiment Station 08:37

6. Seer 04:01

7. Chemurgy 09:52

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quintet Recordings
Parker, William
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