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James Brandon Lewis - Lutoslawski Quartet

These are Soulful Days

Release Date: June 3, 2022

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1 These Are Soulful Days - LIVE  

These are Soulful Days is a piece built and inspired by the fabric of a quilted history of African American Music from its folk traditions of blues, spirituals, and jazz. The piece embodies the sentiment of a joyful past, determined present and resilient future.

These are Soulful Days is the most recent commission from Jazztopad, a piece written for saxophone and the Lutoslawski Quartet by the celebrated tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. The piece, the composer’s first writing for strings, was premiered in Poland last year and will get its US premiere at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola on June 21 and 22.

James Brandon Lewis (b.1983) is a critically-acclaimed composer, saxophonist, and writer. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, MacDowell, and The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. He has been described as “a saxophonist who embodies and transcends tradition” by The New York Times, and a promising young talent having listened to the elders by Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins. “The saxophonist has balanced a deep, gospel-informed spirituality with Free-Jazz-abandon and hard-hitting funk-meets-hip-hop underpinning”—Rolling Stone Magazine. He has released several critically acclaimed albums, most recently highly touted Jesup Wagon and tours internationally leading several ensembles and is a member and co-founder of American Book Award winning poetry music ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders. James was voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist by Downbeat magazine's 2020s International Critics poll and most recently named top Tenor Saxophonist for 2021 by Jazz Times Magazine. Lewis attended Howard University, received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts and was recently named the inaugural recipient of the PhD Fellowship in Creativity by the University of the Arts in collaboration with The Balvenie, drummer and Academy Award-Winning Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

Founded in 2007, the Lutoslawski Quartet has become one of Europe’s foremost contemporary classical string quartets, specializing in the music of their namesake, Witold Lutoslawski. The Quartet began a partnership with Jazztopad over a decade ago and remains an essential part of the festival’s commission program. The Quartet has performed at prestigious festivals and concert halls in Europe, Asia, and South America. The ensemble has often performed with outstanding artists such as Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Uri Caine, Benoît Delbecq, Vijay Iyer, and Charles Lloyd as well as with Garrick Ohlsson, Piotr Anderszewski, Kevin Kenner, Bruno Canino, Michel Lethiec, and Tomoko Akasaka. The quartet performs music of the 20th and 21st centuries, devoting great attention to the popularization of Polish music that include works by Witold Lutoslawski, Karol Szymanowski, Pawel Mykietyn, and Marcin Markowicz, one of the ensemble members.

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