Mark Lewis grew up in the Northwest then moved to the Netherlands for many years to perform, teach and record music. He also lived in San Francisco and recorded a top 40 jazz album after auditioning for Stan Getz to land a record deal. He is a prolific composer, with 1,700 songs to his name. He’s also an accomplished recording engineer, and has recorded and produced albums for a number of great jazz musicians, including the last album recorded by legendary drummer Philly Joe Jones.
As well-traveled and widely recorded as alto saxophonist Mark Lewis has been over the past four decades, his new CD The New York Session is likely to be the album that helps rectify his current under-the-radar reputation. Recorded last year in Brooklyn with a world-class rhythm section—pianist George Cables, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Victor Lewis—the new disc will be released by Lewis’s Audio Daddio label on January 27. It’s the work of an artist clearly reveling in the company of fellow masters making the most of his tasty compositions.
Mark combines all the attributes that I look for in a great jazz musician. For one, he has exceptional technical command of his instruments. Secondly, he is endlessly inventive and creative in the way he plays music. Third, he's able to put his own personal stamp on everything he plays. Very rarely do you encounter musicians who can succeed on all three of those levels.
It doesn't matter what kind of jazz you like. Want to swing like Lester Young? Ratchet up the rhythmic intensity with Birdlike bop? Dig soul-splitting clarity a la Stan Getz? Lewis is your man. He can step in and play in a cool jazz environment as good as the best of them.
It's almost extraordinary the range of things he's capable of doing