Nov 29, 2022
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Ben Pier
Composer and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis has been bubbling under the surface of the jazz world for years before he had his breakthrough moment last year with his tenth album, Jesup Wagon. Lewis is keeping up this prolific streak next year with his new album Eye of I, which sees Lewis stepping back from studied high-concept compositions and instead chasing the pure visceral feeling and vital energy of a potent melody. The album is leaner and more direct, but also no less ambitious, with Lewis’ fusion of jazz, gospel, funk, hip hop aesthetics showing up in full effect.
The full record is out February 3rd via ANTI-, but ahead of the release Lewis has shared a series of singles this year, including “Fear Not” (featuring the Messthetics) and “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Today, he’s back with his latest single from the record, “The Blues Still Blossoms,” premiering with Under the Radar.
Though the track’s name unsurprisingly brings to mind bluesy stylings, Lewis as usual, takes an unexpected approach, centering the track on an elliptical sax motif that he is constantly reshaping and reinventing throughout the piece. Meanwhile, he’s joined by free-flowing jazz basslines and dexterous drum work, making for a track that proves hypnotic and intricate in equal measure. Even as the piece revolves around the persistent sax melody, it remains in unending motion, taking the listener on a floating tour through Lewis’ expansive talents.
Lewis says of the track, “I was thinking about miles of blue fields, that was the visual in my mind. I wanted a blues that sounded like it was floating and never ending. And new, refreshing. The piece is built on word-like phrasing – I’m not thinking about time at all. It’s like a breathing walk, or a conversation.”
Check out the song and accompanying live video below. Eye Of I is out Febrary 3rd via ANTI-.