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” data-original-title title>James Brandon Lewis and the instrumental trio The Messthetics. One notable precedent is the partnership of Ethiopian tenor saxophonist

Getatchew Mekurya
Getatchew Mekurya

saxophone, tenor

” data-original-title title>Getatchew Mekurya with Dutch punk band The Ex, which exploded into life in concert and on record periodically between 2006 and 2012. In the mid-1950s, Mercuria, who wore a lion’s mane headdress when appearing in Addis Ababa dancehalls, forged a style which was akin to, but predated, that of

Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler

saxophone, tenor
1936 – 1970

” data-original-title title>Albert Ayler.

Mercuria claimed never to have heard any jazz until the 1960s; his music was based on traditional Ethiopian warriors’ battle songs. Chancing across Mercuria and The Ex at a Dutch music festival in 2006, the great tenor saxophonist

Ingrid Laubrock
Ingrid Laubrock


” data-original-title title>Ingrid Laubrock, now resident in Brooklyn but then living in London, said the experience was “like tripping.” Some of Mercuria’s early work, including the 1959 single “Shellela Besaxophone,” is collected on the album Negus Of Ethiopian Sax, originally released in Ethiopia in 1972 and reissued in Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques series in 2002.

James Brandon Lewis’ double CD For Mahalia, With Love (Tao), made with his Red Lily Quartet, was one of the deepest jazz albums of 2023, with Lewis referencing his early childhood experiences listening to

Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson

1911 – 1972

” data-original-title title>Mahalia Jackson records with his grandmother. He brings a similarly devotional intensity to his work with The Messthetics, albeit in a secular context. The Messthetics themselves—guitarist

Anthony Pirog
Anthony Pirog

guitar, electric

” data-original-title title>Anthony Pirog, bassist ” data-original-title title>Joe Lally and drummer ” data-original-title title>Brendan Canty—are at heart a hardcore rock outfit but one capable of subtlety and nuance. “That Thang,” on the YouTube below, is indicative of much of the album, but the waltz-time “Boatly,” which comes halfway through the disc, resembles for its first four-and-a-half minutes a gentle lullaby before it cranks up for the final three minutes. No composer credits are given on the liner, but “Boatly” sounds like something Lewis might have written.

The album demonstrates that there is less separating jazz and rock than is often supposed, but that the remaining divide between the two kinds of music is still river deep, mountain high. Vive la difference.


Track Listing

L’Orso; Emergence; That Thang; Three Sisters; Boatly; The Time Is The Place; Railroad Tracks Home; Asthenia; Fourth Wall.


Album information

Title: The Messthetics And James Brandon Lewis
| Year Released: 2024
| Record Label: Impulse! Records


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