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New Yorker James Brandon Lewis has attracted attention in recent years with his prolific stream of original album projects. The New York Times attests him a great musical autonomy: “James Brandon Lewis, a jazz saxophonist in his 30s, raw-toned but measured, doesn’t sound steeped in current jazz academy values and isn’t really coming from a free-improvising perspective. There’s an independence about him.” The drummer Chad Taylor comes from Chicago and has played with Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Malachi Favors and Nicole Mitchell.
James Brandon Lewis is a critically- acclaimed composer, saxophonist, and writer. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, 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 Ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders. James was recently voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist by Downbeat magazines 2020s International Critics poll.
Chad Taylor is a composer, educator, percussionist and scholar who is a co-founder of the Chicago Underground ensembles. He has performed with Fred Anderson, Derek Bailey, Cooper-Moore, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Peter Brotzmann, Jeff Parker, Malachi Favors, Iron & Wine, Sam Prekop, Stereolab and more.
Taylor has defined his voice as one that is unique, rawly refined, unending in creativity, and historically relevant in the world of modern creative music. His partnership with Rob Mazurek in the Chicago/ London Underground Duo/ Trio/ Quartet/ Orchestra, has placed him in an individualistic stylistic mode of playing that is distinct and undoubtedly original.
Lucerne Switzerland journalist Pirmin Bossart aptly sums up James and Chad’s musical relationship after the finale at the 2019 Willisau Jazz Festival “The two musicians let us hear the great breath of an essential jazz tradition, its clarity, raw beauty and urgency shining through, even in the melting pot of contemporary jazz debates. The musicians are not stuck in a version of the past. At every second they are part of the musical process, which shapes itself and pulses with their experiences of the here and now. This is about a continuum, occurring yesterday, today and tomorrow. Why else would jazz have retained till today its transformative power?