Judy Lewis

Prayer in Black and White

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A native of Milwaukee, WI, a student of classical music at New York's Columbia University's School of Music before moving to Israel in 1978 for more study and work in the classical field, pianist Judy Lewis moved to the jazz side of the musical ledger in 1995. This live performance is her second album, but the first with her new trio lineup. On this CD, she not only shows her skills as a performer, but as a composer as well. Seven of the eight items on the program belong to her. Most of her compositions reveal her classical background as they have a sonata, as well as a new age music, feel to them. The delightful "Child's Play" has a flowing pace, with Lewis rarely coming up for air, going from one set of harmonies to the next with ease and aplomb. In contrast, the aptly named "Just Another Stupid Love Song" is more thoughtful and peaceful, but not without a prance or two, with pregnant pauses along the way. There is a nice interlude which features a musical conversation between Lewis and bassist Eli Magen. Perhaps the most arresting cut on the album is the title tune, "Prayer in Black and White," a simply stated melody with chant-like insertions by Guy Shoshani. Shoshani directs his chanting to the strutting drums of Shahar Haziza, while Lewis' hopeful, melodic, smooth playing takes on a life of its own. This track demonstrates that the music can be challenging and demanding without being complex and obscure. The one standard, "My Funny Valentine," opens the door for Lewis' improvisational imagination as she creates several variations on this familiar melody. This is a good session of music by a thoughtful performer and composer, and is recommended.

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