After 60 years as a studio or support musician, saxophonist Roger Lewis is making his debut as a bandleader. “Alright!” is a jazz album that spans a breadth of musical influences. Jazz is at the forefront, but the longtime musician plays well with r&b, blues, even a touch of Gospel. On “Alright!” the saxophone, and the saxophonist do the heavy lifting. An energetic, engaging recording, “Alright!” contains songs like “Carrying the Saxophones” which is a masterwork of style and groove.
About Roger Lewis
Lewis’s personal history begins two months before Pearl Harbor. The musician began life in the Garden District of New Orleans. His mother pays for his piano lessons when Lewis is 8 years old. But by then, Lewis already had interest in another instrument: the saxophone. Lewis continues his piano lessons so he can play at St. Mark’s Church. However, one of his cousins plays alto saxophone with Roy Brown. Out of sight of everyone else, young Lewis picked up the instrument. He then began making his own saxophones of various sizes out of paper.
When Lewis’s father bought the family a new home in the ninth ward. There were more than a dozen music clubs in the area. Before he was 17, Lewis had already played with high-profile groups, including Deacon John and the Ivories. The next several decades would find Lewis playing with performers that ranged from Fats Domino to Chuck D of Public Enemy fame.
“Carrying the Saxophones” by Roger Lewis
A range of saxophones play a hearty bluesy motif, that shines with a touch of Gospel. The horns’ lines are smooth and full, allowing listeners to appreciate the qualities of each type. The mood here is not just of cacophonous risk-taking; instead, full ideas bloom in the completion of each measure. Listeners get the idea that Lewis is well-versed in each of the genres they hear. The sound and rhythm are danceable, but there is no denying the art of what Lewis is doing. This is a song that must be heard to be appreciated.
“Alright!” is an album that was a long time coming, but for jazz fans who enjoy a bit of muscle with their artful musical turns, this is the perfect album for them.