John Lewis: Django

29 Mar

Remembering pianist John Lewis on the day of his death at age 80 in 2001.

Lewis joined the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1952 when it really was modern, and stayed with it through its breakup in the 70s and reunion in the 80s. He also taught, composed and played — with Charlie Parker, Illinois Jacquet and Lester Young before the MJQ, with others or even solo post-MJQ.

Perhaps Lewis would be even better known if it weren’t for the MJQ, or if he didn’t have the same name as a famous leader of the labor movement or the congressman and civil rights leader from Georgia.

The Juilliard School’s Loren Schoenberg on allaboutjazz.com: “John Lewis ranks with Ellington, Mingus, Monk and Morton as one of the great jazz composers.”

Below is a link to Lewis playing Django, which Lewis wrote in tribute to the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt after Reinhardt’s death in 1953. Performed in 2000 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, it was one of Lewis’ final renditions of perhaps his most famous composition. Less than a year later, Lewis died of cancer. 

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  1. April 7th – 9th 2011, jazz is exploding in Russia | International Times of Dominica - April 6, 2011

    […] John Lewis: Django (davidjmarkowitzmusic.wordpress.com) […]

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