Photo Credit : Thomas Sayers Ellis

James Brandon Lewis Trio ‘No Filter’

'No Filter' is an embodiment of the timelessness of great music, and the trio's affinity for it
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The art of jazz trios is performed by many, but explored in the abstract by few.

Spearheaded by tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, ‘No Filter’ is a rollicking juggernaut of free jazz, soul, and 90’s hip hop redefining the art form. The trio features bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren G. Crudup III, who take on Lewis’ latest effort. Melding high-energy jazz improv with older musical influences, ‘No Filter’ is contemporary fusion at its finest. Not to mention its compressed in dynamic 6 tracks. Leading in efficiency like that of a punk rock outfit.

First, the frenzied ‘Say What’ opens the tenacious LP. Its accented with intense sax improvisation, pulsating drums, and burly bass motifs that supports the bedrock foundation. Nodding to the edgy likes of Mos Def and 24-7 Spyz, its a raw jazz vamp not kidding around. Next, the title track ‘No Filter’ is bolder. It starts off with Stewart’s dazzling bass lines, before going into Lewis’ phrenetic playing. Punchy yet sporadic, the cut features not-so-subtle specks of hard bop. Like that of a tune on John Coltrane’s spiritual  ‘A Love Supreme,’ to be precise.

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On the other hand, ‘Y’all Slept’ blends some electric guitar, thrashing drums from Cudrup, tenor sax, and Brooklyn rapper’s P.SO The Earth Tone King’s verses. The soothing, melancholy jazz cut pays tribute to the East Coast hip hop sound. Yet, in its own unique way. ‘Raise Up Off Me’ highlights the trio’s composition skills and virtuosity. A jazzy funk ballad with a fearless sax riff, and a tonality like that of A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Butter’. The talented trio always on Lewis’ dexterous tail.

The last closing tunes include ‘Zen’ and ‘Bittersweet.’ ‘Zen’ is a stylish track of aggressive jazz motifs and hip hop homage that embellish a basic vamp. However, ‘Bittersweet’ ends the LP with a tender, smooth jazz melody and falsetto scatting.

‘No Filter’ is an embodiment of the timelessness of great music, and the trio’s affinity for it. Whether the infinity stems from its inception or recreation, the awareness and appreciation of their roots is evident. This humbling and creative take, is what makes this jazz album shine.

The James Brandon Lewis Trio’s ‘No Filter’ is out now.