George Lewis’s Debut Album Reissued

Source: Chicago Reader.

Lewis has always been a creative and deeply curious artist, traveling easily between disparate styles and approaches—a quality encouraged by the AACM. These days he rarely performs, preferring to compose, but he initially earned his reputation as a trombonist (he’s one of the best improvisers of all time not only on trombone, but any instrument). He readily absorbed the full history of jazz, and all sorts of other styles, and formed a sound at once virtuosic, soulful, and joyous. He was just as at ease playing the rigorous works of fellow composer and thinker Anthony Braxton as he was exploring the overlooked repertoire of postbop pianist Herbie Nichols (alongside the Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg). He excelled when he played the music of Sonny Clark in a great trio with John Zorn and Bill Frisell, but he was just as effective playing large group improvisation in Globe Unity Orchestra. Simply put, Lewis has always been able to make himself at home in every context I’ve ever witnessed.