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James Brandon Lewis: Groove Continuum

Connecting classic hip-hop to timeless trio interplay

James Brandon Lewis

When tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis decided to recontextualize ’90s hip-hop in a free-jazz-leaning saxophone/electric bass/drums setting, he wanted the results to sound organic and honest. “I didn’t want to over-synthesize the music and have a bunch of backbeats and bebop vocabulary,” he says. “My biggest challenge with this record is to not be the jazz musician who has the backbeats while giving love to hip-hop.”

The finished product, entitled Days of FreeMan, is Lewis’ second release for the Sony-owned OKeh imprint. The 33-year-old Buffalo, N.Y. native talked about his journey to the golden age of hip-hop while explaining his methods of refracting that urgent sound into his own musical language.

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