the

Greg Osby & Daniel Bennett at the Triad (NYC)


On Saturday, June 25th, the acclaimed Triad Theatre in Manhattan presents a special double bill concert, featuring contemporary jazz saxophonist Greg Osby and experimental "Folk-Jazz" saxophonist Daniel Bennett. Legendary contemporary saxophonist Greg Osby and innovative "Folk Jazz" saxophonist Daniel Bennett team up for a double bill performance at the Triad Theatre!  The New York Times declares, "Greg Osby has a keen, focused tone on alto saxophone and a hummingbird's phrasing, an equilibrium of hover and flutter."  The Boston Globe raves,"the Daniel Bennett Group plays a mix of jazz, folk, and trance."

The Triad Theatre has hosted performances by entertainers like Slash, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Paula Cole, Susan Lucci, Buddy Miles, Ravi Coltrane, Debbie Gibson, David Crosby, George Benson, Max Weinberg, John Entwistle, Tracey Morgan, Kathie Lee Gifford, Matthew Broderick, Rachel Dratch, and Steve Gutenberg. The Triad was the original home for Off-Broadway hits like "Forever Plaid," "Forbidden Broadway," and "Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know."

The Triad is located at 158 West 72nd Street on Manhattan's upper west side. Visit www.triadnyc.com for more information.  All advance tickets must be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/177563


Jason Aldean & Ludacris Collaboration Available On iTunes!

Last night at the 2011 CMT Music Awards, top nominee Jason Aldean and rapper Ludacris brought the house down with an unexpected collaboration of Aldean’s current Top 10 hit “Dirt Road Anthem.”  The remix of the song is now available on iTunes for download.  Additionally, the performance video will be available on Mon., June 13.

"Ludacris absolutely killed his verse of the song," said Aldean.  "He name checks Kenny Rogers and talks about drinking cold beer…that's pretty country, if you ask me!   I think Luda said it best last night at the close of the song when he told the crowd 'History has been made.'  It really did feel like one of those one-in-a-lifetime television moments, and the CMT Music Awards was the perfect show for it.  The fans were crazy!"

To watch Aldean and Ludacris’ performance of “Dirt Road Anthem” from last night’s CMT Music Awards, click here.

Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” is currently the No. one song on the iTunes Country Songs chart, and it plowed its way into the Top 10 on the radio charts this week.  The fan-favorite track is the third single off MY KINDA PARTY that has already spawned two smash hits ( “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson and "My Kinda Party).  The album hit big out of the gate, setting a record as the highest first week debut by a male artist in 4 years, and the now PLATINUM disc it has remained planted at the top of the chart since its Nov. release. 

Phish: Live In Utica Box Set In Stores 5/24!

On October 20, 2010 Phish played their first ever show in Utica in the heart of the Mohawk Valley.  Utica Memorial Auditorium is a hockey arena with a capacity of about 5,700 and a design very similar to another round room and favorite Empire State Phish venue, Madison Square Garden.  Utica was the smallest venue on Phish's fall tour and the atmosphere was charged with electricity - the music was swinging, inspired and transcendent with a crowd that rose to the occasion.  One clever fan even went so far as to craft a "Guyutica" sign that no doubt helped shape the night’s events.  A new camera mounted at the front-of-house position accentuated the light show in a way never before featured on a live, indoor Phish DVD.  Set one was bookended by a soul sandwich, opening with "My Soul" and closing with "Run Like An Antelope" ("set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul").  "Vultures" and a funky "Wolfman's Brother" > "Cities" with local references brought the show to an early fever pitch.  The music seemed to play the band as intricate, full-band improvisation intertwined the songs of set one throughout an absurdly creative sequence of "Guyute", "David Bowie" and "Wilson”.  The show's theme song "Guyute" bloomed again repeatedly during "Saw It Again" and "Run Like An Antelope", both of which oozed with exquisite detail fueled by a fully mind-melded band and audience.  Set two built on the momentum of a stellar first set, opening the door with a patient, jazzy "Sand" > "Theme From The Bottom" and diving headlong through it with an explosive combination of "Split Open And Melt" > "Have Mercy" > "Piper" > "Split Open And Melt" > "Slave To The Traffic Light" that nearly blew the roof off the Utica Aud. By the time “Birds Of A Feather” re-appeared during “Piper”, it could accurately be described as Uticular.  In keeping with its series of interrelated themes, nearly optimum flow and an overall magical glow, Utica also showcased some relative rarities from The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday such as "McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters" and "Tela".

The nearly three hours of music on the Utica box set was recorded with 64 channels of digital multi-track and beautifully mixed and mastered, appearing on the DVD's in 5.1 Dolby surround and full-resolution, uncompressed PCM stereo. The video was shot with 8 cameras (16:9 widescreen), recorded and post-edited in High Definition.  Combining a stellar performance with gorgeous improvisation and a healthy sense of adventure, Utica makes it clear that the band is back and playing for keeps.

The Utica box set features the complete October 20, 2010 performance on 2-DVD’s and 2-CD’s to be released nationwide on May 24th.  The box set presents three hours of crucial Phish in an intimate venue with an inspired audience that returned the energy at every turn.
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Check out some clips from Live in Utica:
&
a video clip of 'Wolfman's Brother'

My Morning Jacket Share Title Track from New Album Circuital

Nearly three years since their last release, My Morning Jacket are now on the cusp of releasing the eagerly awaited new album, Circuital (ATO Records, May 31st).  The band has been gearing it all up by releasing songs from each of their five Terminal 5 shows this past October.  Today, My Morning Jacket are giving us a taste of the new album by sharing the title track and revealing it's enigmatic cover art.

Click HERE to download the song "Circuital" from the band's website.  The site is also now offering pre-orders for the album, and a beautiful limited edition deluxe package that includes an exclusive 30 minute documentary dvd, high quality lithograph portrait taken by Danny Clinch and many other goodies.  Ten deluxe versions will come with a 'Golden Ticket" entitling the bearer to receive an original signed print by the band and Clinch.

Like the album as a whole, "Circuital" was laid down almost entirely live as the honest spirit and human spontaneity are felt throughout the listening experience.  The song Circuital, while a seven minute epic, is but a taste of what to expect – the collection of songs is truly eclectic and entrancing from beginning to end.

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My Morning Jacket Tour Dates:

04/17:  Lexington, KY @ Memorial Coliseum

05/20:  Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Festival

06/02-06/05:  Ozark, AR @Wakarusa Festival

06/05:  Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam

06/09-06/12:  Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Festival
06/17:  Chicago, IL @ Auditorium Theatre
06/22:  Los Angeles, CA @ Pantages Theatre
06/24: Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
06/26:  Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
06/28:  Portland, OR @ Edgefield
06/29:  Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum
06/30-07/03:  Quincy, CA @ High Sierra Music Festival
07/11:  Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
07/12:  Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
07/16: Southwold  @ Latitude Festival
07/17: London  @ Somerset House
08/04:  Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Scala & Kolacny Brothers North America Tour

Winning over the hearts of critics at the LA Times, NPR, USA Today, Billboard, MTV.com, AOL Spinner and Stereogum, all-female Belgian rock choir sensations Scala & Kolacny Brothers continue their US breakthrough with the release of their full length self-titled debut and a North American tour this spring.  The album, out March 15 on ATCO, features imaginative reinterpretations of songs from Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Depeche Mode, Nirvana and others, as well as the three haunting original compositions by Scala & Kolacny Brothers.

After a performance at SXSW, Scala & Kolacny Brothers will kick of their North American tour April 7 in Vancouver, BC.  The group will hit major cities across the US and Canada, playing renowned rock venues, such as New York's Webster Hall and Los Angeles' El Rey Theater, while also debuting at Coachella on April 15.

Led by pianist/composer Steven Kolacny and his brother, conductor Stijn Kolacny, Scala & Kolacny Brothers "brilliantly haunting" (EW) version of Radiohead's “Creep” underscored the trailer for 'The Social Network’ to great acclaim (viewed by 4-million-plus on YouTube alone), and the group has continued to build buzz and fans stateside ever since.  The LA Times praises their “sweet songbird attack,” and USA Today raves that their takes on rock classics "Creep" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit” are "even more haunting than the originals.”

Watch a live performance of Scala & Kolacny Brothers original “Self-fulfilling Prophecy” here.

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Scala & Kolacny Brothers North American Tour Dates:

Fri-Mar-18        Austin, TX            Stubbs BBQ (SXSW)
Thu-Apr-7         Vancouver, BC         Commodore Ballroom
Fri-Apr-8         Seattle, WA             The Showbox Sodo
Sat-Apr-9         Portland, OR         Roseland Theatre
Mon-Apr-11     San Francisco, CA         The Independent
Tue-Apr-12         San Francisco, CA         The Independent
Thu-Apr-14         Los Angeles, CA         El Rey Theatre
Fri-Apr-15         Indio, CA             Coachella
Wed-Apr-20     Boulder, CO            Boulder Theatre
Fri-Apr-22         Minneapolis, MN         First Avenue
Sat-Apr-23         Chicago, IL             Park West
Mon-Apr-25     Washington, DC         9:30 Club
Tue-Apr-26         Philadelphia, PA         The Trocadero
Wed-Apr-27     Boston, MA             House of Blues
Thu-Apr-28         New York, NY         Webster Hall
Sat-Apr-30         Toronto, ON             The Opera House
Sun-May-1         Montreal, QC         Club Soda

Jason Aldean's Party Goes PLATINUM!

Just eleven weeks after its release, Billboard’s 2010 Top Male Country Artist Jason Aldean is celebrating PLATINUM certification for sales of one million copies for his fourth studio album MY KINDA PARTY.  The 15 track disc becomes Aldean’s third career PLATINUM album and brings the country rocker to five million total albums sold since his debut five years ago.

"I just can't say enough about country music fans and the amount of loyalty they have for their favorite artists," said Aldean. "To think that a million people already bought this record is hard for me to get my head around. And five million since I started?  No way!  I am so grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to play music every night."


MY KINDA PARTY opened big in Nov. with an impressive first week moving over 193,000 units and earning the biggest first week debut by a male vocalist in over three years. The album’s lead and title track recently earned GOLD certification for digital downloads and took the No. one spot on Mediabase’s country chart. Aldean’s powerful duet with Kelly Clarkson “Don’t You Wanna Stay” follows closely behind, jumping into the Top 15 this week. Both singles also remain in the Top 10 on iTunes’ Country Songs Chart.

Aldean will kick off the sold out first weekend of arena dates on his MY KINDA PARTY TOUR this Friday in Little Rock, AR.  The 30 city run through May features special guests Eric Church and the JaneDear girls.

For more information and additional tour dates as they are announced, visit www.jasonaldean.com.

Andy Friedman prepares 'Laserbeams And Dreams' CD

On April 5, 2011, artist and songwriter Andy Friedman will release his third studio album, Laserbeams and Dreams (City Salvage Records).  Produced by noted guitarist and producer David Goodrich (Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey), the album was recorded in Friedman’s Brooklyn neighborhood and cut in 24 hours with one overdub and mixed in the studio.  Complementing Friedman’s “art-damaged, ragged-but-right” (L.A. Weekly) approach and Goodrich’s restrained, atmospheric lead guitar and piano is rising-star upright bassist and composer Stephan Crump (Grammy®-nominated Vijay Iyer Trio, Jim Campilongo), whose latest album of “ingenious originals” (The New Yorker), Reclamation (recorded with his Rosetta Trio), NPR spotlighted among its top five jazz albums of 2010. The interplay of Friedman’s “engagingly singular” (Philadelphia Inquirer) songwriting and “slow, lugubrious, dipped in country heartache” (Hartford Advocate) strum with Crump’s “full, appealingly wooden sound” (The New York Times) calls to mind classic collaborations by Van Morrison with bassist Richard Davis on 1968’s Astral Weeks, or John Hartford and Dave Holland on 1972’s Morning Bugle Call — albums also recorded live in the studio without much pre-conceived musical planning.  “We captured the mood created,” says Friedman.  “It wasn’t our place to second-guess the results.”

Andy Friedman first hit the road as a self-described “Slideshow Poet” in 2002, leaving his day job as an office assistant in the Editorial Department at The New Yorker to accompany projections of his paintings, drawings, and Polaroids with readings of his poetry in dive bars and rock clubs around the nation.  The hybrid performance was applauded by journalists as “the coolest show to come around in a long time” (Good Times [Santa Cruz]), and introduced Friedman as “The King of Art Country” (City Pages [Minneapolis]).  The transition from traveling poet to rambling musician occurred when the “erudite redneck” (Boston Globe) picked up the guitar and sang for the first time in his life in 2005, shortly before recording his debut album, Taken Man (City Salvage Records), the title track of which landed at #30 on a New York Post “Best Songs” list that included over 200 hits by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Andrew Bird, Amy Winehouse, and The National.

Friedman’s reputation as a “dusty, paint-splattered Americana sage” (Rochester News & Democrat) germinated with the release of the CD Weary Things (City Salvage Records) in 2009, garnering enthusiastic praise, a performance on NPR’s coveted Mountain Stage, a feature interview on XM’s Bob Edwards Show, and a growing audience.  The online cultural journal Slant hailed Friedman as “an arrival of one of the genre’s smartest and deepest talents.” His “hard-tack country originals” were described in The New Yorker as “the mark of a true artist,” while NoDepression.com called his songs “unforgettable.” Old Crow Medicine Show's Ketch Secor proffered the song “Weary Things” as a “certified, genuine American tune,” and Indie-icon Sufjan Stevens proclaimed, “I think the world of Andy Friedman. I’ve always wanted to be Andy Friedman.” Largely overlooked, Weary Things was highlighted alongside titles by Tom Waits and Chuck Prophet by the Associated Press among “The Best Overlooked Albums of 2009.” “Friedman can write a lyric, and he can deliver it,” declared Stephen Wine. “He is not to be overlooked, that’s for sure.”

Laserbeams and Dreams tackles themes of religion, aging, disillusionment, and family, but images of death prevail in all forms. The gospel dirge “Time for Church” is the album’s opener, and finds Friedman renouncing religion in favor of drink, music, and art.  “It’s time for church/It’s five o’clock,” he sings. “Pour a drink/let the record play.” Friedman’s vocals boom with an echo recalling the classic Nashville Sound recorded by Chet Atkins at RCA in the late ’50s and ’60s. The lilting “Motel on the Lake” presents death as the crumbling façade of a once vibrant Catskill Mountain summer resort community more famously referred to as the Borscht Belt, which the singer now reports “whips the children.” Goodrich brings haunting upright piano to “May I Rest When Death Approaches,” a song based on a series of poems written by Friedman’s father-in-law days before his passing.  “Roll On, John Herald” is at once a tribute to the late John Herald — a founding member of the seminal late-’50s bluegrass trio the Greenbriar Boys, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the summer of 2005 — and a humbling, dark portrayal of life as an obscure legend on the road. “When Vin played him on Idiot’s Delight/I knew John Herald had died,” growls Friedman, who befriended the singer when Herald invited the then “slideshow poet” to open a string of dates in 2003.  In “Quiet Blues,” recorded minutes after the ferocious “Roll On, John Herald,” Friedman laments with newfound vocal sensitivity the death of peace and quiet in the digital age.  “Hey, Command Z/bring the quiet blues back to me,” he warbles. “Recording those two songs without a break was like a biathlon,” says Friedman. Singer-songwriter Jen Chapin, who is married to Crump, lent the guitar played by her father — the late Harry Chapin — to Friedman for the recording of Laserbeams and Dreams.

It’s not all death and despair for Friedman, who approaches these themes with the acerbic wit and dark humor of a New Yorker gag cartoon — a pastime with which the singer has found past success under the pseudonym Larry Hat. With “Going Home (Drifter’s Blessing),” Friedman delivers an anthem for the little-known folksinger trying to make it out on the road, whose faith in himself is tested by long drives, missed family, and dismal turnouts, but can only wish the life on his children and theirs.  In “Down by the Willow,” the album’s closer, Friedman is seduced by the serenity of life in the country but is “shackled and chained” to the gritty confines of the city, revisiting the famous car wash scene from the 1967 Paul Newman classic Cool Hand Luke.

Friedman will perform the record in its entirety, accompanied by David Goodrich and Stephan Crump, on select dates during the Laserbeams and Dreams tour.

Greg Lewis 2010 December Appearances

New York native, keyboardist Greg Lewis, a highly accomplished mainstay on the city’s jazz, blues and funk scenes, who has earned a solid reputation for his versatile work around town in a vast variety of settings, steps out front for the first time on his debut CD Organ Monk. Lewis’ sensitive and soulful keyboard playing has made him a favorite among some of the music’s finest vocalists – including blues queen Sweet Georgia Brown, jazz and soul songstress Lezlie Harrison and ex-Brooklyn Funk Essentials singer/songwriter Stephanie McKay  -- and earned him a featured role on saxophonist Sam Newsome’s Groove Project recording 24/7.  Now on Organ Monk the spotlight is finally shined on his enormous talents as the leader of his own allstar trio featuring multitalented guitarist Ron Jackson and drummer extraordinaire Cindy Blackman.

Born into a musical family, Lewis’ introduction to jazz came from hearing Monk records from the collection his late father, pianist David Lewis, who was a dedicated fan of Thelonious.  “It all started there,” the younger Lewis proclaims, also naming unsung master Elmo Hope as a major influence.  Lewis started his own piano studies at the age of eleven and began playing professionally around New York as a teenager.  He credits jazz legend Gil Coggins, who sent him as a sub one night to a gig where there was a Hammond B-3, for setting him on the path to becoming a bona fide organist.  These days Lewis has so devoted himself to mastering the difficult instrument with such fervor that he considers himself to be an “organ monk.”

Working weekly for the past five years at the hip Brooklyn club Night Of The Cookers, with his regular trio featuring Ron Jackson on guitar, Lewis has honed his skills on the B 3 to become one of New York’s first call organists.  It was at the club that he first met drummer Cindy Blackman, who was so impressed with his playing that she sat in with the group and made arrangements to later perform with Lewis.  An unwavering fan of the Tony Williams Lifetime group, featuring Larry Young on organ, Blackman is the perfect complement for Lewis’, who names Young as his primary influence on the instrument (along with, of course, Jimmy Smith as well as Sly Stone).  Lewis cites Young’s landmark interpretation of “Monk’s Dream” from the classic Unity album as a further inspiration for his decision to devote this his first date to the music of Thelonious.

Although albums memorializing Monk’s music have become somewhat commonplace since the iconic pianist/composer’s death, Organ Monk is most likely the very first on which the date is led by an organist. Lewis’ years of familiarizing himself with both his instrument’s expansive capabilities, as well as Monk’s sizable songbook, have led to this inevitable debut recording that breathes new life into the master’s repertory, while exploiting the Hammond B 3’s vast (and somewhat untapped) potential for creating new sounds.

Despite its classic organ-guitar-drum configuration, Lewis’ trio is far from typical in approach to making modern music. His arrangements of the fourteen Monk titles on the record are consciously contemporary in their originality, respecting the composer’s melodic, harmonic and rhythmic voice, while using the different elements of each piece to propel the group into its own unique nexus, one where the customary divisions between soloist and accompanist are blurred, or even erased.   Beginning with “Trinkle Tinkle”, one of Monk’s more intricate melodic lines, Lewis’ mastery of both the B 3’s dual keyboards and its too often neglected bass pedals is clearly evident, as is his fearless approach to arranging for the trio, with Blackman’s powerful drums doubling the intricate melody with him.

Lewis’ unaccompanied introduction to ”Jackie-ing”, slowing building around the chords of the playful Monk march before inviting drums and guitar to join him is an eloquent lesson in dynamic tension and release.  The trio trips around in space with Lewis’ organ at times reminiscent of Sun Ra before sliding smoothly into the infectious melody of “Criss Cross”, with Blackman’s drums offering a jagged contrast to the velvety tone of the B 3, before the trio settles into an earthy mood and then blasts back into the stratosphere to conclude astrally.  The band’s easy swinging reading of the beautiful “Light Blue”, featuring Jackson’s soulful guitar, is a ringing affirmation of the group’s ability to shine brightly in the classic organ trio tradition, as is their burning up tempo rendition of the not often heard “Played Twice” that features an exciting Lewis-Blackman dialogue.

The date’s other nine Monk pieces each offer a different perspective on the master’s work.  There’s the bouncing rhythm that jumps out of the long tones that set up “Boo Boo’s Birthday” and its fittingly funny quote by Lewis of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, followed the lilting rhythms of the bebop masterpiece “Coming On The Hudson.”  Blackman’s energetic drumming on the fiercely burning “Four In One”, reminiscent of Art Blakey’s work with Monk, incites Lewis and Jackson to some of their best soloing of the date.  Lewis’ playing on “Locomotion” with his tonally expansive keyboard work, intelligent use of space and cleverly complementary bass line is nothing short of masterful.  On “We See” the trio once again swings mightily, with Lewis clearly demonstrating the influence of the great Jimmy Smith on his virtuosic playing.

“Monk’s Mood” is the date’s most beautiful ballad, with Lewis displaying the sensitive lyricism that has made him the favorite accompanist of so many of New York’s finest vocalists.  The trio shows off its intuitive split second timing in an edge of your seat dramatic reading of the marvelous melody of “Think Of One”, before digging down into their shared deep blues roots.  Lewis’ harmonic daring is clearly evident on his audacious arrangement of “Work.”  The final Monk piece of the date, “Introspection”, is a fitting example of the unmitigated joy the trio finds in coming together to make great music.

The date’s concluding coda is a Lewis original, “Kohl’s Here”, a fittingly Monkish melody dedicated to his teenage son that gives listeners a brief glimpse into the keyboardist’s own impressive abilities as a composer.  A talent that is sure to be seen in greater abundance on future releases from this extraordinary artist.

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Tour dates:

December 03, 2010 -- 10pm
Greg Lewis Trio    Night Of The Cookers
767 Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(Btwn Greene Ave & S Oxford St)
http://www.nightofthecookers.com/

December 04, 2010 -- 10pm
Greg Lewis Trio    55 Bar
55 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10001
(West Village)
http://www.55bar.com/

December 10, 2010 -- 10pm
Greg Lewis Trio    Night Of The Cookers
767 Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(Btwn Greene Ave & S Oxford St)
http://www.nightofthecookers.com/

December 17, 2010 -- 10pm
Greg Lewis Trio    Night Of The Cookers
767 Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(Btwn Greene Ave & S Oxford St)
http://www.nightofthecookers.com/

December 18, 2010 -- 10pm
Greg Lewis Trio    55 Bar
55 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10001
(West Village)
http://www.55bar.com/

December 22, 2010 -- 7-9pm
Organ Monk Trio    55 Bar
55 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10001
(West Village)
http://www.55bar.com/

Greg Lewis Upcoming NYC Appearances

New York native, keyboardist Greg Lewis, a highly accomplished mainstay on the city’s jazz, blues and funk scenes, who has earned a solid reputation for his versatile work around town in a vast variety of settings, steps out front for the first time on his debut CD Organ Monk. Lewis’ sensitive and soulful keyboard playing has made him a favorite among some of the music’s finest vocalists – including blues queen Sweet Georgia Brown, jazz and soul songstress.

Lezlie Harrison and ex-Brooklyn Funk Essentials singer/songwriter Stephanie McKay  -- and earned him a featured role on saxophonist Sam Newsome’s Groove Project recording 24/7.  Now on Organ Monk the spotlight is finally shined on his enormous talents as the leader of his own allstar trio featuring multitalented guitarist Ron Jackson and drummer extraordinaire Cindy Blackman.

Born into a musical family, Lewis’ introduction to jazz came from hearing Monk records from the collection his late father, pianist David Lewis, who was a dedicated fan of Thelonious.  “It all started there,” the younger Lewis proclaims, also naming unsung master Elmo Hope as a major influence.  Lewis started his own piano studies at the age of eleven and began playing professionally around New York as a teenager.  He credits jazz legend Gil Coggins, who sent him as a sub one night to a gig where there was a Hammond B-3, for setting him on the path to becoming a bona fide organist.  These days Lewis has so devoted himself to mastering the difficult instrument with such fervor that he considers himself to be an “organ monk.”

Working weekly for the past five years at the hip Brooklyn club Night Of The Cookers, with his regular trio featuring Ron Jackson on guitar, Lewis has honed his skills on the B 3 to become one of New York’s first call organists.  It was at the club that he first met drummer Cindy Blackman, who was so impressed with his playing that she sat in with the group and made arrangements to later perform with Lewis.  An unwavering fan of the Tony Williams Lifetime group, featuring Larry Young on organ, Blackman is the perfect complement for Lewis’, who names Young as his primary influence on the instrument (along with, of course, Jimmy Smith as well as Sly Stone).  Lewis cites Young’s landmark interpretation of “Monk’s Dream” from the classic Unity album as a further inspiration for his decision to devote this his first date to the music of Thelonious.

Although albums memorializing Monk’s music have become somewhat commonplace since the iconic pianist/composer’s death, Organ Monk is most likely the very first on which the date is led by an organist.   Lewis’ years of familiarizing himself with both his instrument’s expansive capabilities, as well as Monk’s sizable songbook, have led to this inevitable debut recording that breathes new life into the master’s repertory, while exploiting the Hammond B 3’s vast (and somewhat untapped) potential for creating new sounds.

Despite its classic organ-guitar-drum configuration, Lewis’ trio is far from typical in approach to making modern music. His arrangements of the fourteen Monk titles on the record are consciously contemporary in their originality, respecting the composer’s melodic, harmonic and rhythmic voice, while using the different elements of each piece to propel the group into its own unique nexus, one where the customary divisions between soloist and accompanist are blurred, or even erased.   Beginning with “Trinkle Tinkle”, one of Monk’s more intricate melodic lines, Lewis’ mastery of both the B 3’s dual keyboards and its too often neglected bass pedals is clearly evident, as is his fearless approach to arranging for the trio, with Blackman’s powerful drums doubling the intricate melody with him.

Lewis’ unaccompanied introduction to ”Jackie-ing”, slowing building around the chords of the playful Monk march before inviting drums and guitar to join him is an eloquent lesson in dynamic tension and release.  The trio trips around in space with Lewis’ organ at times reminiscent of Sun Ra before sliding smoothly into the infectious melody of “Criss Cross”, with Blackman’s drums offering a jagged contrast to the velvety tone of the B 3, before the trio settles into an earthy mood and then blasts back into the stratosphere to conclude astrally.  The band’s easy swinging reading of the beautiful “Light Blue”, featuring Jackson’s soulful guitar, is a ringing affirmation of the group’s ability to shine brightly in the classic organ trio tradition, as is their burning up tempo rendition of the not often heard “Played Twice” that features an exciting Lewis-Blackman dialogue.

The date’s other nine Monk pieces each offer a different perspective on the master’s work.  There’s the bouncing rhythm that jumps out of the long tones that set up “Boo Boo’s Birthday” and its fittingly funny quote by Lewis of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, followed the lilting rhythms of the bebop masterpiece “Coming On The Hudson.”  Blackman’s energetic drumming on the fiercely burning “Four In One”, reminiscent of Art Blakey’s work with Monk, incites Lewis and Jackson to some of their best soloing of the date.  Lewis’ playing on “Locomotion” with his tonally expansive keyboard work, intelligent use of space and cleverly complementary bass line is nothing short of masterful.  On “We See” the trio once again swings mightily, with Lewis clearly demonstrating the influence of the great Jimmy Smith on his virtuosic playing.

“Monk’s Mood” is the date’s most beautiful ballad, with Lewis displaying the sensitive lyricism that has made him the favorite accompanist of so many of New York’s finest vocalists.  The trio shows off its intuitive split second timing in an edge of your seat dramatic reading of the marvelous melody of “Think Of One”, before digging down into their shared deep blues roots.  Lewis’ harmonic daring is clearly evident on his audacious arrangement of “Work.”  The final Monk piece of the date, “Introspection”, is a fitting example of the unmitigated joy the trio finds in coming together to make great music.

The date’s concluding coda is a Lewis original, “Kohl’s Here”, a fittingly Monkish melody dedicated to his teenage son that gives listeners a brief glimpse into the keyboardist’s own impressive abilities as a composer.  A talent that is sure to be seen in greater abundance on future releases from this extraordinary artist.

Night Of The Cookers Oct 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th, 2010

10pm-1am | 767 Fulton St, Brooklyn 11217 (Btwn Greene Ave & S Oxford St)

-

55 Bar Oct 9th & 23rd

10pm-130am
55 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10001

Marco Benevento Two Nights in Denver

MARCO BENEVENTO
Two Nights at DAZZLE in DENVER, CO
Thursday, AUGUST 12 & Friday, AUGUST 13
Sets at 7PM & 9PM
Buy Advance Tickets Here

Also appearing in Colorado....

SURPRISE ME MR. DAVIS
Nathan Moore, Brad Barr, Marco Friedman, Marco Benevento & Andrew Barr

August 19 | The Fox Theater | Boulder, CO (buy tickets)
August 20 | Three 20 South | Breckenridge, CO (buy tickets)
August 21 | Newhoma Music & Mountain Festival | Florissant, CO (buy tickets)