Meade "Lux" Lewis

1941-1944

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Inspired by Jimmy Yancey and operating in close cahoots with Albert Ammons, Meade "Lux" Lewis played fine piano, pounded the celeste, and even manhandled the harpsichord, as he does on the first two selections of this thoroughly entertaining core sample of woogie works from the early '40s. The harpsichord outings are marvelously disorienting. Johnny Guarnieri did something similar with the instrument as a member of Artie Shaw's Gramercy Five, but Lewis' touch is about 50 pounds heavier per square inch, an oddly appropriate caliber for his wide-open "Self Portrait." During the slightly deranged "Doll House Boogie," as hammerhead piano is augmented with tinkling patterns on the celeste, it sounds as though a glockenspiel has been "blowing gage." Every one of these performances is filled with surprises. Lewis was a rambunctious practitioner who really spanked the plank when he felt like it. This is soulful stuff. You may derive the maximum enjoyment from these ivory stomps by forgetting about evaluating technical prowess or stylistic integrity. No way! Think like that and you'll miss the whole show. This is about feeling good and letting the piano come get you. Allow it to crawl inside of your bones and loosen you up. The last four tunes are extended-play Blue Notes from 1944. That extra minute per side really pays off in the hypnotically repetitive world of boogie-woogie. It takes about four minutes to completely establish the kind of ritual that this man specialized in. Initially unreleased, "Meade's Blues" is a meaty example of that almost pugilistic touch that distinguished this slugger from a lot of tip-toe ticklers.

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