19 July 2009

Nicely composed

The Reuben Lewis Quintet was a unexpected find for me at Jazz Uncovered. Intelligent, composed in several senses, gentle grooves and thoughtful soloing. So I wasn’t surprised by the quality and interest I heard from the band when they broadcast for ArtSound last Friday. This was laid back, unforced notes, solo lines pulled from the ether. I understand the tunes were mostly written by Reuben with one or two by Matt. In interview, Reuben said he’d found mates who would share this understanding and compositional sensibility. They did. There were relaxed reggae and latin rhythms, sparse open spaces for nylon-strung guitar, gentle accents from drums and Chris’ steady bass. The music sat rather than grew, comfortable and stable, but gently insinuating with delightful melodies and similarly melodious soloing. Reuben used the various expressive possibilities of brass, tounging, glissandoes, flutters, growls, for strains of Freddie Hubbard and Sketches-of-Spain-era Miles. Max played a more uneffected style, with long eighth-note passages outlining and exploring the harmonies with just occasional 16-th note runs. This was expressive and intelligent and delightfully understated playing from both the frontliners. So Reuben’s band provided another composed, thoughtful performance and just confirmed my impression at JU. Don’t go expecting thrills and dance. This is a band to ponder, to imbibe. Recommended.

Reuben Lewis (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn) led a quintet with Max Williams (tenor), Matt Lustri (guitar), Chris Pound (bass) and Aidan Lowe (drums).

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