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James Brandon Lewis: The Storyteller

“I’m constantly searching and pushing,” New York-based saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis says. “I don’t live my life by the moniker that there’s nothing new under the sun — I’m not interested in that kind of sun. There’s always more to be discovered.”

This year, Lewis will turn 40, and that restless sense of creativity shows no sign of slowing. He just released Eye Of I (ANTI-), his 10th album since 2010’s Moments, and has a forthcoming project celebrating the work of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, For Mahalia, With Love (TAO Forms). He is completing a doctoral degree on his theory of “molecular systematic music” at University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is about to embark on a nationwide tour. Speaking over a video call, it’s the punishingly early — or late — hour of 4 a.m., and Lewis is bright-eyed and beaming from his Brooklyn apartment, readying himself to catch a morning flight to San Diego for the tour.

“I usually get up by 6 a.m., so this isn’t a problem for me,” he laughs from a darkened room. Thankfully, in London, where this writer is calling from, it has just turned 9 a.m. and the morning sun is streaming in. Notwithstanding the hour, Lewis is riding high, capping off the most successful two years of his career.

Read the cover feature in Downbeat Magazine.

[This piece was published on 05/07/23]

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