George Lewis

The Usual Turmoil and Other Duets

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George Lewis records so infrequently as a leader that any new release featuring him on trombone is itself an event. Here, he is featured on trombone in a series of duets with kotoist Miya Masaoka. (Masaoka's koto is a sort of modified Japanese zither.) The results, as expected, are superb, as Lewis and Masaoka negotiate twelve improvised pieces, swerving, interacting, bouncing, and complementing each other in spectacular ways. Lewis is up to his usual bag of tricks, totally dominating his horn with rapid displays of notes bursting forth like shooting stars, extremely precise phrasing, and extended range. Masaoka is a fine dueling partner, stroking her koto in different avenues, jabbing here and there with atonal forays. While the sound quality suffers a bit on the two lengthy live numbers, Lewis fans will nonetheless savor the extended 'bone solos, not to mention the outstanding koto work of Masaoka.

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