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June 1998

Victor Lewis
Three Way Conversations
RED

Like Kenny Barron and Cecil McBee, drummer Victor Lewis is quietly compiling a noteworthy songbook that undeniably will become a referral guide for the post-millennium generation. Seldom are his compositions merely blowing sessions for the solo fetish or deconstructed earsores burdened by worthless avant garde gestures. Lewis' plot driven compositions are always melodically alluring, intensely suspenseful and immediately memorable. As for an instrumentalist, Lewis is top-notch with the capacity to drive blistering burnouts and caress the most sensitive ballads.

With Three Way Conversations, Lewis continues both his compositional and leadership mastery with great aplomb. As with his previous albums, this too also reveals Lewis to be giving leader as he constructs his compositions with ample space for his quintet to both deliver cogent solos and engage in delightful interaction. With the serenely mysterious, "Complex Dialog," the melody is divided between bassist Ed Howard and tenor saxophonists Seamus Blake. The composition has a questing quality that suggests Wayne Shorter, as both Howard and Seamus alternate between recurring motifs and elongated solos while Lewis underscores the elliptical theme with fragmented Afro-Hispanic rhythms. Altoist Steve Wilson contributes magnificently on the blustery, "The Roamer" as does trumpeter, Terrell Stafford on the Woody Shaw tribute, "With Dignity."

All in all, this pianoless date is further evidence of Lewis' formidable talents as leader, composer and drummer.

Originally published in June 1998
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