FAME Review: John A. Lewis - One Trip Out
John A. Lewis - One Trip Out

One Trip Out

John A. Lewis

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Perhaps the most cogent opening remark to John A. Lewis' One Trip Out was rendered by the release's astute unnamed promo lit writer opining that the disc is highly reminiscent of a Rudy van Gelder slab from the 50s and 60s. Man, whoever penned that line, well, he or she just nailed it! Trip is indeed a well-needed walk back to older times when this ilk of trio music could exist in propriety: unhurried, tasteful, gently improvisatory with mellifluous abstractions on trad grounds, absorbing without ever jarring. Had I heard these guys playing at a sidewalk cafe, I'd've sat down for the entire afternoon, dreamy and hedonizing. That same liner scribe also made reference to Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, and, yep, had those bad boys possessed jazz hearts, they would've penned what's heard here. Listen to Satie's Gnossiennes and such but do so with attention to his Parade and other pieces, and you'll see Lewis' wont too…though the track Nice approaches Erik's famed sedentary 'furniture music' very serenely indeed.

You may have noted this gent's name and thought "Hey wait a minute, isn't he…?", but no, not quite, that was the senior John A. Lewis, pianist and musical director for the famed Modern Jazz Quartet. This present Mr. Lewis is his son, and he's inherited a good deal of his father's discretions and musical temperament. Aficionados well know the MJQ thirsted for and achieved a classy improvisatory environment that respected jazz's wellsprings while expanding its boundaries, one of the earliest of the mode's chamber music endeavors. For that, they very rightly became one of the most celebrated jazz ensembles of the day, cherished up to this moment, and One Trip Out is highly reminiscent of that atmosphere.

Lewis has released eight albums and drummer Merik Gillet gets plenty of great short solos in this issuance amid a persistently snappy presence, following directly upon Lewis' uncluttered lines and open-mindedness. Bassist Lincoln Apeland also gets licks in here and there, not as often as I might have liked, but seems to prefer painting the environment around his compeers, tones often becoming washes. Lewis himself also reminds of Ramsey Lewis more than a few times, especially in the upper-end bright side of his piano, but I find a good deal more within hidden depths in Lewis' work, a dimension of mentation that makes you return to the compositions again and again, each time drawing more refreshing water up from the well, and that, of course, goes right back to the past he's enshrining, when music wasn't made for the sake of a TV commercial or to please grossly diminished Billboard chart aesthetics.

Track List:

  • Let's Face It
  • One Trip Out
  • A Faustian Occurrence
  • The Grifter
  • Spang (Mark Gillett)
  • Sixty Miles Short
  • Three Shades
  • Def Blue
  • Nice (Jason Alex Davis)
  • Sly Steps
  • A Sisyphean Endeavour (Lincoln Apeland)
All compositions by John A. Lewis except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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