Stories » James Brandon Lewis - Days Of FreeMan / Downbeat

Top 10 for Nov

James Brandon Lewis - Days Of FreeMan / Downbeat

Bookmark and Share

On July 25, the day after OKeh Records released James Brandon Lewis' sophomore album, Days Of FreeMan, the tenor saxophonist delivered a blistering set at Washington, D.C.'s Bohemian Caverns.

His performance underscored a new shift in his thematic focus. Whereas Lewis' 2014 disc, Divine Travels, centered on gospel themes and a free-jazz aesthetic, the new disc finds him reinvestigating early to mid-'90s hip-hop, the soundtrack of his youth.

At Bohemian Caverns, Lewis' music still retained its sense of exploration, unearthing hip-hop signifiers more reverential than referential. Songs like "Brother 1976" and "Days Of FreeMan" tingled with the rhythmic thrust of hip-hop's golden age. But the compositions were treated with an arresting, unapologetic abstraction.

On his new disc, Lewis is joined by the esteemed rhythm team of drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma. However, these sidemen did not appear with him at Bohemian Caverns. Instead, Lewis received admirable support from bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren "Trae" Crudup III. Lewis has a connection to these fine D.C.-based musicians, having played with them while he was a student at Howard University.  READ THE FULL Downbeat ARTICLE