James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor Duo, Friday, December 14, 7:30pm, 121 Club


James Brandon Lewis, tenor saxophone, Chad Taylor, percussion, 121 Club, Eastworks, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA. Tickets $15

Saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis was born in Buffalo, New York in 1983. Raised in the church — whose influence upon his spiritual outlook is central — he was exposed to gospel, r&b and jazz early in life. He attended the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts. Upon graduation, he continued his studies with Charlie Young at Howard University.

While at Howard, Lewis performed with Geri Allen, Benny Golson, Wallace Roney, and Bill Pierce, and toured Japan under the direction of Fred Irby. After graduating from Howard in 2006, Lewis moved to Colorado where he became active in the gospel music community, performing with Albertina Walker and other luminaries. After establishing himself as a gospel musician, Lewis sought to expand his musical horizons. He attended CalArts, where he studied with Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith, Vinny Golia, and Alphonso Johnson. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2010. Moments, his debut album as a leader, was independently issued the same year Lewis relocated to New York in 2012, began woodshedding and playing with a host of veteran musicians including Marilyn Crispell, Charles Gayle, Karl Berger, and Eri Yamamoto.

Divine Travels (Okeh), his sophomore offering, was recorded in 2013, and featured bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver, followed by Days of Freeman (Okeh), featuring bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer Rudy Royston, and No Filter, which explores hip hop and punk rock music. His latest, Radiant Imprints, is a duo with Chad Taylor.

Chad Taylor, who came of age in Chicago, is one of the most active, in-demand percussionists in the music. In addition to forming the Chicago Underground Ensembles with Rob Mazurek and Jeff Parker, Taylor had an on-going relationship with Chicago legend, Fred Anderson, and has worked with Matana Roberts, Joshua Abrams, Sam Prekop and many other Chicago improvisers. He is featured on over 50 recordings and performs in Marc Ribot’s Spiritual Unity project, co-leads Digital Primitives, with Cooper-Moore and Assif Tashar, and toured extensively with the indie rock band Iron and Wine. “What is remarkable is that there is no wasted motion, no histrionics or grandstanding, as pure emotion is translated to superlative music,” writes AllMusic. Taylor has a BFA from the New School in Jazz Performance and a MFA in Jazz Research and History from Rutgers University.