INTAKT RECORDS REVIEWS

JAMES BRANDON LEWIS QUARTET
CODE OF BEING

Intakt CD 371 / 2021

SILKE EBERHARD TRIO BEING THE UP AND DOWN  Intakt CD 365 / 2021

 

 

 

Die Integration des Aruán Ortiz Trios mit Brad Jones' grummelndem, sprintendem surrendem Bass und Chad Taylors Holterdipolter und Tamtam ins JAMES BRANDON LEWIS QUARTET vereint mit dem Tenoristen Lewis und dem Pianisten Ortiz zwei, die versuchen, Wissenschaft mit Kunst und Ästhetik mit Ethik zu amalgamieren und hier als Band of Brothers den Code of Being (Intakt CD 371) zu enträtseln. Wie Anthony Braxton mit seinen Language, Ghost Trance und Falling River Musics, entwickelte Lewis seine Molecular Systematic Music als ein von der circadianen Rhythmik biologischer Zellen inspiriertes und hier bei 'Per 4' & '...5' angewandtes Tool, um ein intellektuelles und progressives Erbe unter afroamerikanischen Vorzeichen weiter voranzubringen.

Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy Newsletter, Oct 2021 (DE)

 

Ci sono artisti che non si smentiscono mai ma anzi ogni volta che compaiono danno conferma del proprio talento, avanzando nel territorio delle proprie scoperte. James Brandon Lewis è uno di questi e uno dei più grandi sassofonisti della scena internazionale attuale.

Sergio Spampinato, Distorsioni, Oct 16 2021 (IT)

 

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is undeniably one of the most important players of his generation. Deeply thoughtful and musically omnivorous, his catalog spans spiritual free jazz, collaborations with poets, jazz-funk tributes to early ’90s conscious hip-hop, a long-running jazz-punk trio that sometimes expands to a quartet or even a quintet, and this group, which might be his most traditionally minded ensemble. The James Brandon Lewis Quartet includes pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones, and drummer Chad Taylor (with whom Lewis has also recorded two duo albums). This is their second album, recorded in May of this year in Switzerland. Like its predecessor Molecular — recorded in January 2020, just before the pandemic shut the world down — it’s a meditative, almost John Coltrane-ish suite of compositions written using a system of his own design that he calls Molecular Systematic Music.

Phil Freeman, Stereogum, Oct 19 2021 (EN)

 

 

Pirmin Bossart, Jazz'n'More Magazine, Sept 2021 (DE)

Pirmin Bossart, Jazz'n'More Magazine, Sept 2021 (DE)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis (Buffallo, 1983) is momenteel een van de belangrijkste tenorsaxofonisten/ componisten in het brede spectrum van de hedendaagse jazz. Zijn vorige album voor Intakt Molecular, opgenomen een paar maanden voor de lock down in 2020 werd alom toegejuicht als een van de meest opwindende uitgaven van het jaar. Hij werd gekozen als rising star tenor saxofonist in Downbeat Magazine Int. Critic’s poll 2020. “Code of Being” is een krachtig werk met 8 composities van James Brandon Lewis, de fraaie melodieën verlenen de nummers een magische impuls. Met Aruán Ortiz (piano), Brad Jones (contrabas) en Chad Taylor (drums), vier exceptionele muzikanten, elk met een eigen persoonlijkheid, creëren een dringend groepsgeluid, geladen met energie en zich bewegend door een breed palet van geluidskleuren, ritmes en stemmingen. Het quartet ontwikkelt een geïnspireerd samenspel waarbij ze reageren op de minste schommelingen op het niveau van geluid en groove. “This is captivating music which is hard to resist, especially the melodies with their thematic beauty” schrijft Florian Keller in de cd tekst.

Jan van Leersum, rootstime.be, Nov 2021 (NL)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis mi aveva colpito da subito con quell’esordio Moments del 2010, un album autoprodotto in cui si avvertiva la già matura personalità strumentale del saxofonista allora appena ventisettenne. Il colpo del k.o. lo subii qualche anno più tardi, quando nel 2015 uscì un album in trio – Days of freeman – dentro al quale un sax aggressivo ma non troppo si muoveva supportato solamente dal contrabbasso e dalla batteria. Chi pratica uno strumento a fiato sa che dopo il disco-solo, la difficoltà più grande è suonare con una formazione senza un vero e proprio strumento “armonico” come un piano o una chitarra, qualcosa che ti consenta un appoggio su una base rassicurante costituita da accordi e non solo da singole note, o al massimo da bicordi, come li può permettere il contrabbasso. In questi ultimi casi quasi tutta la responsabilità della sostanza sonora si carica sulle spalle del solista e se non sei più che bravo a mantenere accesa l’attenzione finisci per perderti nell’oleoso mare della noia. Ma J.B.Lewis è più che bravo, non tanto e non solo dal punto di vista tecnico su cui peraltro egli non insiste più di tanto ma piuttosto nella costruzione melodica e nel fraseggio in cui dimostra un’invidiabile individualità espressiva. In questa sua ultima uscita Code of Being – la decima produzione discografica da titolare della sua carriera – c’è continuità col lavoro precedente, Molecular, anch’esso licenziato in quartetto con gli stessi musicisti di questo disco e cioè Aruan Ortiz al piano, Brad Jones al contrabbasso, Chad Taylor alla batteria oltre allo stesso Brandon Lewis al sax tenore.

Riccardo Talamazzi, Offtopicmagazine, Nov 13 2021 (IT)

 

 

On his tenor saxophone, James Brandon Lewis can conjure up a storm, and quite often, his recordings do just that. But the attraction of his music isn’t derived from a show of strength; it’s the fluid lyricism that traces the path of his sax from first note to last. His sound is conducted with an unassuming presence and a sense of calm, even while that storm of his bends trees and brings the sky crashing down. It is as if he is both the storm and its eye all at once. On this excellent session with pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones, and drummer Chad Taylor, his quartet spends equal time representing the tranquility that follows the storm as it does the storm itself.

Dave Sumner, Bandcamp, Nov 11 2021 (EN)

 

 

Wenn James Brandon Lewis seine weiten melodischen Kreise zieht, wenn er mit seinem Saxophon abhebt in die Nähe der Achttausender des Jazz und dabei von seiner wunderbaren Band gestützt und emporgetragen wird, dann glaubt man einzutauchen, tief in die Geschichte der zeitgenössischen Improvisation. Dann glaubt man sie alle zu hören, die Colemans und Coltranes, die Aylers, Rollins und Redmans. Sie sind im Geiste Brüder – und man hört Brandon Lewis dieses enge verwandtschaftliche Miteinander deutlich an. „Code Of Being“ ist sein drittes Album für Intakt aus Zürich und man könnte es getrost seinen „dritten Streich“ nennen, mit dem er endgültig im Olymp des Jazz angekommen ist.

Jörg Konrad, KultKomplott, Nov 16 2021 (DE)

 

 

Despite the challenges we all know, this is definitely the year of James Brandon Lewis, who is ranked well up among the most creative saxophone players working today. On the heels of the incredible Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms, 2021), comes Code of Being, a quartet effort that largely plays by the same rules defined in Molecular (Intakt, 2020), as he continues to invigorate spiritual and conceptual sonic crusades in jazz. Having penned all eight selections on this album, Lewis not only shines individually but also achieves a highly inviting group sound in the company of pianist Aruan Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Chad Taylor.

Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail Blog, Nov 08 2021 (EN)

 

 

Werner Siebert, Jazz Podium, (DE)

Werner Siebert, Jazz Podium, (DE)

 

 

Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise Magazine, Dec 2021 (EN)

Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise Magazine, Dec 2021 (EN)

 

 

Piercarlo Poggio, Audioreview Magazine, Nov 2021 (IT)

Piercarlo Poggio, Audioreview Magazine, Nov 2021 (IT)

 

 

Manfred Pabst, NZZ am Sonntag, Nov 2021 (DE)

Manfred Pabst, NZZ am Sonntag, Nov 2021 (DE)

 

 

Paul Jaillet, Jazz Magazine, Dec 2021 (FR)

Paul Jaillet, Jazz Magazine, Dec 2021 (FR)

 

 

Hiroki Sugita, Japan Jazz Magazine, Vol.136, Dec 2021 (JP)

Hiroki Sugita, Japan Jazz Magazine, Vol.136, Dec 2021 (JP)

 

 

Torniamo sulle uscite della Intakt per tre album molto diversi fra loro pubblicati dall'etichetta svizzera nel 2021. In due puntate del settembre 2020 - che si possono trovare in podcast - ci eravamo occupati dei due precedenti album per la Intakt del sax tenore afroamericano James Brandon Lewis, uno dei personaggi più in vista del jazz di oggi: il nuovo album, realizzato con il suo quartetto regolare con il pianista Aruan Ortiz, il bassista Brad Jones e il batterista Chad Taylor si intitola Code of Being. Uno degli album che hanno fatto più effetto quest'anno, e non solo fra le produzioni Intakt, è la seconda uscita del trio Punkt Vrt Plastik, formato dalla pianista slovena Kaja Draksler, dal bassista svedese Petter Eldh e dal batterista tedesco Christian Lillinger: molto appassionante sia il pianismo della Draksler che l'interplay del trio, con il modo non convenzionale di procedere di basso e batteria. Infine un corroborante doppio cd, Road, di Fred Frith, grande chitarrista e sperimentatore: un cd in trio con basso e batteria, l'altro con l'aggiunta al trio della sassofonista danese Lotte Anker o della trombettista portoghese Susana Santos Silva.

Marcello Lorrai, Radio Popolare, Nov 23, 2021 (IT)

 

 

One of the young giants on the tenor saxophone, Lewis is on a roll, with a couple terrific releases in 2021: Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms), and Code of Being. The latter features Lewis' go-to band, with pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Chad Taylor providing the perfect partners for Lewis, able to anchor his most fiery exclamations but just as willing to ease up when he pursues a more subtle pathway, as is often the case here. A perfect follow-up to the band's Molecular (Intakt), one of the highlights of 2020.

Troy Dostert, All About Jazz, Dec 07 2021 (DE)

 

 

One of the young giants on the tenor saxophone, Lewis is on a roll, with a couple terrific releases in 2021: Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms), and Code of Being. The latter features Lewis' go-to band, with pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Chad Taylor providing the perfect partners for Lewis, able to anchor his most fiery exclamations but just as willing to ease up when he pursues a more subtle pathway, as is often the case here. A perfect follow-up to the band's Molecular (Intakt), one of the highlights of 2020.

Slava Gliožeris, Jazz Music Archives, Dec 03 2021 (EN)

 

 

Saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis is one of the rising stars in the jazz world, releasing his second album of the year in the company of Aruán Ortiz on piano, Brad Jones on bass and Chad Taylor on drums. The eight compositions, all by Lewis, cover a wide range of musical territory, beginning with “Resonance,” which opens the album at a medium tempo with graceful playing all around and a gradual increase in the mysterious sound. Stronger playing from the rhythm sparks deeper saxophone playing which ramps up nicely to exciting collective improvisation lead by taut saxophone. There is space for the rhythm section to play with lush piano and active bass and drums. Before the leader’s saxophone returns and the tempo returns to the slower opening feel. Gentle rhythm section playing and yearning saxophone make for an emotional setting on “Archimedean,” with the pace soon picking up to some jagged and fraught playing from saxophone and drums.

Tim Niland, Jazz And Blues, Nov 01 2021 (EN)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis has captured many jazz fans’ attention with his critically acclaimed saxophone playing and genre-bending compositions. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Lewis was recently voted Rising Star-Tenor Saxophonist by Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critic’s Poll. The ever-striving Lewis leads numerous ensembles and is the Co-Founder of the award-winning poetry and music ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders. The young saxophonist attended Howard University and received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He is now submitting his sophomore release Code of Being, via Intakt Records. This album continues in the style of his debut album, Molecular, which Lewis recorded with his quartet in 2020 just a few months before Lockdown, was roundly acclaimed as one of the most exciting releases in 2020 (Intakt CD 350). Joining Lewis is Aruán Ortiz, piano; Brad Jones, bass; and Chad Taylor, drums.

Icrom Bigrad, Jazz Sensibilities, Oct 14 2021 (EN)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis has captured many jazz fans’ attention with his critically acclaimed saxophone playing and genre-bending compositions. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Lewis was recently voted Rising Star-Tenor Saxophonist by Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critic’s Poll. The ever-striving Lewis leads numerous ensembles and is the Co-Founder of the award-winning poetry and music ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders. The young saxophonist attended Howard University and received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He is now submitting his sophomore release Code of Being, via Intakt Records. This album continues in the style of his debut album, Molecular, which Lewis recorded with his quartet in 2020 just a few months before Lockdown, was roundly acclaimed as one of the most exciting releases in 2020 (Intakt CD 350). Joining Lewis is Aruán Ortiz, piano; Brad Jones, bass; and Chad Taylor, drums.

Marlbank, Oct 26 2021 (EN)

 

 

A rising presence on the scene, New York-based tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis has received accolades from The New York Times, NPR, and countless other news outlets for his disciplined ability to combine myriad stylistic influences into a singularly expressive approach. Sonny Rollins told Jazz Magazine that Lewis is a “promising young player with the potential to do great things having listened to the Elders.” Lewis’ appreciation for the innovations of masters like Rollins, Coltrane, and Ayler is readily apparent in his melodic conflation of gospel, blues, R&B, modal jazz, and avant garde influences. Lewis was also recently voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist in Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 International Jazz Critic’s Poll.

Troy Collins, Point Of Departure, 2021 (EN)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis est un immense musicien, tout droit issu d’une longue tradition de saxophonistes ténor qui va de Coltrane à David S. Ware en passant par Albert Ayler. La phrase est dithyrambique mais il faut pourtant écouter pour croire : chacun des albums que ce saxophoniste publie est une perle et Code of Being ne déroge pas à la règle. On y trouve une inspiration quasi mystique et la marque de ces musiciens dont on souhaite qu’ils laissent une trace indélébile.

Par Gilles Gaujarengues, Citizen Jazz, Nov 14 2021 (FR)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis est un immense musicien, tout droit issu d’une longue tradition de saxophonistes ténor qui va de Coltrane à David S. Ware en passant par Albert Ayler. La phrase est dithyrambique mais il faut pourtant écouter pour croire : chacun des albums que ce saxophoniste publie est une perle et Code of Being ne déroge pas à la règle. On y trouve une inspiration quasi mystique et la marque de ces musiciens dont on souhaite qu’ils laissent une trace indélébile.

Nina Terruzzi, Radio Popolare, Dec 02 2021 (IT)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis has captured many jazz fans’ attention with his critically acclaimed saxophone playing and genre-bending compositions. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Lewis was recently voted Rising Star-Tenor Saxophonist by Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critic’s Poll.

Jazz Blues News, Dec 17 2021 (EN)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis has captured many jazz fans’ attention with his critically acclaimed saxophone playing and genre-bending compositions. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Lewis was recently voted Rising Star-Tenor Saxophonist by Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critic’s Poll.

Nicola Barin, Jazz Convention, Dec 09 2021 (IT)

 

 

Andy Hamilton, The Wire Magazine, Dec 2021 (EN)

Andy Hamilton, The Wire Magazine, Dec 2021 (EN)

 

 

Pat Youngspiel, Concerto Magazine, Dec 2021 (DE)

Pat Youngspiel, Concerto Magazine, Dec 2021 (DE)

 

 

Code Of Being is James Brandon Lewis’ second
								recording with his “Molecular” quartet (pia
								nist Aruán Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones and drum
								mer Chad Taylor) — for which the tenor saxo
								phonist writes in a system based on biological
								cell processes. The album also mines his inter
								est in African American visual artists. Puting
								that aside, what matters is that Code Of Being
								features some of Lewis’ most beautiful music.
								In fact, it opens with the absolutely exqui
								site “Resonance,” a wistful, pondering tune that
								works itself into a pugilistic,M-Base-like attack.

Michael J. West, Downbeat Magazine, Dec 2021 (EN)

 

 

Laurence Donohue-Greene's Recommended Releases, The New York City Jazz Record, Dec 2021 (EN)

Laurence Donohue-Greene's Recommended Releases, The New York City Jazz Record, Dec 2021 (EN)

 

 

Tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis has been working with a concept he terms Molecular Cellular Music, a metaphor and generative tool for creative composition and improvisation, wherein the four basic triads (major, minor, diminished, augmented) serve as building blocks for well-defined yet open-ended musical structures, just as the four nucleic acids of DNA (adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine) code for an infinite variety of complex proteins. This could suggest that Code of Being—the second in a triptych of albums to be released on Intakt with pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Chad Taylor—leans to the cerebral. It does anything but, thanks to Lewis’ roots in the gospel church and affinity for the spiritual song of Albert Ayler and John Coltrane.

Tom Greenland, The New York City Jazz Record, Jan 2022 (EN)

 

 

Ken Weiss, Cadence / Jazz Inside (Ballots 2021), Dec 2021

Ken Weiss, Cadence / Jazz Inside (Ballots 2021), Dec 2021

 

 

Es sind durchaus grundlegende Parameter, mit denen das Quartett des charismatischen Tenorsaxofonisten James Brandon Lewis beschäftigt ist. Was erklingt, ist transparent und luzide, aber nie eindeutig. „Resonance“ zum Beispiel, das Eröffnungsstück, beginnt mit hingetupften Bass- und Klaviertönen sowie leisen Schlagzeugwischern, so dass jeder Jazzhörer sofort weiß, dass hier der Boden bereitet wird für das Melodieinstrument, das natürlich ein Tenorsaxofon ist. Es tritt auf mit einer feinen kleinen Melodie, und während man noch diesem ersten Eindruck nachhorcht, hat der Saxofonist schon andere Ufer angesteuert. Bass und Schlagwerk wandeln sich zu einer subtil agierenden sound-and-rhythm-section, das Klavier übernimmt eine treibende und tonal erweiternde Rolle, und das Saxofon entschwindet mit seiner energiereichen Variationsarbeit, die sich von der liebenswerten Melodie längst gelöst hat, in einer fernen Umlaufbahn.

Hans-Jürgen Linke, Frankfurter Rundschau, Dec 23 2021 (DE)

 

 

THE BEST 30 JAZZ ALBUMS OF 2021

Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail, Jan 2022 (EN)

 

 

James Brandon Lewis 'Code of Being' (Intakt Records). Ein neuer Koloss am Tenorsaxofon. Der weiß Freiheit zu schätzen und zu bändigen. Sein bisher bestes Album. Und mit jedem wird er besser.

Andrian Kreye, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Dec 27 2021 (DE)

 

 

Energie. Das ist das erste Wort, dass auf meinem Hörzettel steht. Und am Ende des ersten Hördurchgangs, stand es gleich 4 (!) mal darauf. Das erinnerte mich an etwas… Schnell nachgesehen und etwas zurückgeblättert im Notizbuch und schon wusste ich wieder woran: Meine Hörnotizen zum Album „Molecular“ des „James Brandon Lewis Quartets“. Ich hatte dieses hier übrigens ebenfalls mit großer Freude und Faszination rezensiert. Der Grund meiner ähnlichen Einschätzung ist nicht nur erklärbar durch die wieder selben Musiker, sondern insbesondere wohl aufgrund der Tatsache, dass die aktuelle CD die zweite einer auf drei ausgelegten Reihe ist, bei der Molecular den Start der Serie beim Schweizer Label Intakt markierte.

Claus Volke, Hoeren Und Fuehlen, 2022 (DE)

 

James Brandon Lewis, beseelter Tenorsaxofonvirtuose, verfügt auf seiner neuen
								Intakt-Einspielung über eine echte Traumbesetzung. Er kann also aus dem Vollen
								schöpfen, sehr klassisch, das hört sich auch so an. Parallelen zum John-Coltrane-
								Vierer aus der ersten Hälfte der 6oer sind unüberhörbar, vermutlich auch gewollt.
								Das kann man jetzt traditionell oder zeitlos nennen. Egal. Die acht Stücke, allesamt
								von Brandon Lewis, sind in jedem Fall tief empfunden, sind dicht verwobene
								Klanggebilde mit feinsinniger Melodik und zeugen vom Gespür für Harmonien. Die
								Titel spiegeln seine vielfältigen Interessen, die vom Civil Rights Movement
								(Archimedean), über die bildende Kunst (Every Atom Glows) bis zur
								Molekularbiologie (Per 4, Per 5, beides Anspieltipps) reichen. Wie auch immer, in
								jedem Fall wird großartig musiziert. Brandon Lewis' voller, stets eleganter Ton auf
								dem
								Tenor,
								Ortiz'
								funkelnde Virtuosität,
								Jones'
								wuchtiger,
								machtvoll
								fortschreitender Bass und Taylors feinsinniges Schlagzeugspiel können schon
								beeindrucken.

FreiStil Magazine, 2022 (DE)

 

Avec ce « Code of Being », son 9ème album, le saxophoniste ténor américain James Brandon Lewis nous revient avec son quartet (Adruan Ortiz au piano, Brad Jones à la contrebasse et son vieux complice Chad Taylor à la batterie) déjà présent sur l’album « Molecular » de 2020, suite auquel son statut a évolué pour qu’il devienne une des valeurs sûres du jazz contemporain. Depuis lors, on l’a entendu dans le convainquant projet du pianiste italien Giovanni Guidi (« Ojos de Gato ») où il interprétait la musique de Gato Barbieri et dans un album plus ancré dans la musique noire américaine, « Jesup Wagon », où il rendait hommage au scientifique et inventeur George Washington Carver, celui-ci sorti il y a quelques mois à peine.

Sergio Liberati, JazzMania, Feb 18 2022 (FR)

 

Sous de faux airs de nonchalance (Resonance), le ténor de James Brandon Lewis anime des phrasés de plus en plus vifs, ouvrant au pianiste Aruan Ortiz d’essentiels espaces, espaces sans cesse modulés par le drumming de Chad Taylor. Nous sommes au début de Code of Being et le ton est donné : ici, on usera de lyrisme et de franchise.

Luc Bouquet, Jazzin, March 03 2022 (FR)

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