When Jesse Lewis brought his guitar to New Orleans in 1996 to attend first Loyola University and then the University of New Orleans, his musical fortunes took a turn for the better. He had some great teachers, including Astral Project's guitarist extraordinaire, Steve Masakowski, and also the great John Eubanks. Lewis turned out to be an apt pupil. Soon he was gigging with any number of the fine jazz musicians from the birthplace of jazz. He regularly performed with the Albert-Ankrum Project. In 2002, he recorded a debut album, entitled Union. His second release, Jesse Lewis Union, features some of his best friends, who also happen to be among the best musicians in New Orleans. In the aggregation that appears on the CD, the jazzmen include James Alsanders on drums, Mark Anderson and Jason Marsalis on bass, Brian Seeger on pedal steel, Scott Bourgeois on saxophone and flute, Derek Douget on alto sax, Andrew Baham on trumpet, and Jesse Lewis on guitar. Together, they put out a big and easy sound, worthy of the town's nickname. Perhaps because it is music made among friends, it has an intimate and relaxed feeling, with any number of outstanding improvisational solos supported by the other musicians. Some of the tunes are tender; others cut a hot groove. They all swing. Standouts include "Beginnings" and "Last Hope." The musicians show what friends can accomplish when united together.
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AllMusic Review by Rose of Sharon Witmer