James Brandon Lewis

This morning we are pleased to welcome saxophonist and composer, James Brandon Lewis, to select three church-inspired Sunday morning tunes with us.

James Brandon Lewis articulates a big sound and deftly reconciles the worlds of the spiritual and the cerebral. But there isn’t an easy shorthand for his musical approach. Ever since his early releases—Moments, Divine Travels—the New York-based saxophonist has balanced a deep, gospel-informed spirituality with free jazz abandon.

James Brandon Lewis’s selection

Ornette Coleman – The Blessing

James Brandon Lewis: A classic tune, simply because I grew up going to church. The title is fitting…it is very much a blessing this life is!

Duke Ellington & Mahalia Jackson – Come Sunday

James Brandon Lewis: One of my grandmother’s favorite singers…so much soul and flavor.

Charlie Haden & Hank Jones – Take My Hand Precious Lord

James Brandon Lewis: I had the privilege of studying with Charlie Haden at the California Institute of the Arts…a beautiful soul…of course Hank Jones is a legend.

MailTape’s selection

James Brandon Lewis – The Preacher’s Baptist Beat

Sanjay: Taken from James Brandon Lewis’s ‘Divine Travels’ album, we hear James unafraid to play in a spiritual manner on this track. His lines sway with fervour, mixing the blues shouts with shouts of ‘hallelujah’ alongside poet Thomas Sayers Ellis who reads with the trio.

Wadada Leo Smith – Najwa

Sanjay: In remembrance of a love lost, ‘Najwa’ revisits, in a way, Wadada Leo Smith’s earliest influences with a guitar album of sorts. As such, the album celebrates past masters of creative music: Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Billie Holiday. It features four guitarists—Michael Gregory Jackson, Henry Kaiser, Brandon Ross and Lamar Smith—who paint translucent colours over odd, muscular bass, drums and percussion grooves performed by Bill Laswell, Pheeroan akLaff and Adam Rudolph, respectively. Celestial bliss!

Susana Santos Silva – No Trees Land

Sanjay: On her album, ‘Impermanence’, Susana Santos Silva combines plenty of feints and decoys before unleashing her furious assaults on trumpet. A varied composer who sketches intricate, melodic textures, full of intriguing tension and an expansive interplay, as in this moving ballad.

Casimir Liberski, Tyshawn Sorey & Thomas Morgan – Evanescence I

Sanjay: Recorded in one take during an improvised session in Brooklyn, this piece eschews the robustness generally associated with improvisation. The music reveals itself slowly and in a most quiet self-effacing way.

That’s it for this morning. As always, thank you so much for joining us this Sunday. Much love and respect to James Brandon Lewis for his Sunday selections, and to Pierre-Julien Fieux for his stunning illustration.

Humans behind this episode #360 🤗

Curator: Sanjay Mistry
Writer: Sanjay Mistry
Illustrator: Pierre-Julien Fieux

Let's build a better internet together 💎

MailTape is an independent non-profit art collective run by 23 volunteers united by their love for music. We are committed to offering an experience that respects you: ethical design, 100% human curation, no advertising, no external trackers.

We are volunteers ✊

Donations are used to cover web hosting and organize live events for the community.

Become a supporter ❤️

Donate now 👍