Jesse Lewis - The Atticus Sessions
Please note this is an old page and Fly Global Music has now moved. Please follow this link and search for the entry in the new site.
Boston-raised, New Orleans-bred, New York-based, Jesse Lewis’ take on music is a blend. It’s not even about making jazz, it’s about being jazz. It’s all in your outlook.
The great New Orleans musicians don’t play with a ton of technique (even if they have it). They play with a ton of feeling.
Atticus is a jazz album as a summation of parts. With this album, Lewis is taking the jazz roots he honed playing guitar alongside cats like Ellis Marsalis and Nicholas Payton and contextualizes them with sounds that remind you of Boards of Canada. Collaborating on the album with Joe Davancens led to beats and synths and effects. A whole bunch of friends came onboard, resulting in over 30 wind, string or percussion instruments shaping this album, all revolving around Lewis’ guitar playing (all kinds of different guitars no less).
Atticus is Lewis’ sophomore album, having previously put out Jesse Lewis Union on Lakefront Digital.
Becoming one of New York’s most in-demand guitar sidemen means Lewis has toured North America, South America, Europe and Africa. In retrospect, it’s probably easier if I tell you where he hasn’t been — he’s toured that much.
Currently Lewis is plucking strings for a bunch of groups around New York, some of which include the Max Wild Band, The Paul Wiltgen Group and co-leading The Brian Seeger/Jesse Lewis Group.
I found Jesse chilled out down in Brooklyn and got the scoop on where he’s coming from.
Hey Jesse, what does Atticus even mean?
Atticus is actually my middle name. I was named after the hero, Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee’s book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The name sounds pretty epic to me.
Ha! So it’s kind of a self-titled album. Some of the song titles give me the impression that you’re telling a story, eg The Adventures Of Dirt McGillicuddy. Describe what’s going on: are you going in to songwriting with a story in mind, eg movements, emotions, etc, or does the song itself create the story?
Exactly. I think that each song creates a story for the listener and the story that each listener takes away is very individual experience. I try to channel my own emotions into a song when I compose which is a very abstract thing. There is almost never any specific imagery involved. The titles are usually the last part of the process for me. I often try to find a title that conveys what I hear the story as being. The title, The Adventures Of Dirt McGillicuddy, is somewhat nonsensical, however when I listen to that on the recording I sort of imagine some shady character named Dirt McGillicuddy who carouses a Gotham City type place and gets into all kinds of trouble. That song could almost be a marvel comic.
What do you want your listener to discover within your music?
These pure primal emotions are the primary and most important part of my playing and my compositions. This is the essence. These emotions are what I want to share with my listeners. In this way I am trying to communicate something that is true with my audience. I guess ultimately I want my listener to discover truth through my music. To experience something real, ancient, and timeless in an ever-changing world which can often times be filled with things that are not true and that go against our humanity.
When I improvise I am playing notes and rhythms, but it is what is behind the notes and rhythms where the music is found.
I like how your journey took you to New Orleans first and then to New York. How have those specific locations changed you?
Musically speaking, New Orleans taught me what being soulful means. New Orleans taught me how to swing. New Orleans is a place that still celebrates life through music. This is an experience that I feel honoured and grateful to have had. New Orleans is all about feeling. The great New Orleans musicians don’t play with a ton of technique (even if they have it). They play with a ton of feeling.
New York is a place that seems to honour jazz music that incorporates a lot of technique and sophistication. Musicians in NYC are soulful for sure, however that is not the only purpose behind their music. If you go to most jazz clubs in NYC you will see an audience that quietly sits there and listens to the music. In New Orleans it would not be uncommon for people to start dancing. You wouldn’t have to tell them to dance either. They would just start dancing! You’d never see that in New York.
I feel like I have had the best of both worlds and often times they meet. Even when I’m playing technically sophisticated NYC modern jazz or even in the case of Atticus which is definitely not traditional jazz, I’m still trying to evoke the feeling of playing at the Funky Butt down in New Orleans.
Finish the sentence:
The best time I had on tour was when I…was in Zimbabwe last spring and found myself at Victoria Falls. Music can really take you anywhere.
Visit www.jesselewismusic.com for more info on Atticus, including streaming audio, as well as gig dates around New York.
Photo by Zack Smith
Visit Fly's new Amazon shops:
Fly Music Shop UK / Fly Music Shop US
Lhasa 1972 - 2010
Jesse Lewis - The Atticus Sessions
The French Caribbean - Meets the Big Apple
Mint Condition - e-Life
DeBarge - In a Special Way (Revisited)
|Search Google for more about: Jesse Lewis - The Atticus Sessions
|CC Some Rights Reserved FLY 2012 || Add to Del.icio.us|