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Homage to Charles Parker

George Lewis

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Album Review

This tribute to bop icon Charlie Parker is not a program of his famous tunes but a representation of his spirit that still exists. Through means of improvised music with a variety of significant signposts, George Lewis offers two 18-minute texture pieces that display a haunting quality by combining natural elements and electronically generated waves of sound, passion, and a little fury. Moog synthesizer programmer Richard Teitelbaum provides the landscape, pianist Anthony Davis the skyscapes, and Douglas Ewart on alto sax and bass clarinet provides the Bird-like characteristics. Lewis, on trombone and electronics, directs the ensemble from within this quiet storm's eye. "Blues" starts with tonal fragmented phrases in no time with trombone, bass clarinet, and piano circling Teitelbaum's occasional synthesized insertions. The inquisitive nature of the counterpointed horns is strikingly bold and pervasive, as if Parker was cueing various icons of blues legends like Leadbelly, Howlin' Wolf, and T-Bone Walker to speak up for themselves. Long-held tones in the midsection lead to Teitelbaum's spacey, blue, Sun Ra-like touches. The title cut starts with reverent, spiritual, hovering washes from cymbals and soft synths, and a languid alto solo from Ewart signifies the ghost of Bird has arrived. Davis plays some absolutely gorgeous piano, like delicate beacons of light cutting through fog, while an organ-sounding synth urges a more sweeping piano solo. Lewis, on a poignant trombone, waxes lyrical and poetic, aware of the transfiguration of bop while addressing its contemporary, contemplative needs. Pretty stunning music. As heavy and stylistically different as this music is, the point is clear and well-taken. Lewis and his group make a statement unique in creative jazz and unto itself. This is an important recording in many ways, and a magnum opus for the leader. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 13 July 1900 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

George Lewis never tried to be a virtuoso soloist. He loved to play melodic ensembles where his distinctive clarinet was free to improvise as simply as he desired. When Lewis was inspired and in tune, he could hold his own with any of his contemporaries in New Orleans and he always sounded beautiful playing his "Burgundy Street Blues." To everyone's surprise...
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