The Judy Lewis Group
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"Waiting On a New Day"


“Judy Lewis, ex ultra-orthodox Jew, ex fifty cigarettes a day, ex classical pianist has plenty of experience in life to express through her music; moving over to the Jazz genre when Chopin was not happening for her, 8 years ago. She is a thoughtful, searching player and her talent is rich enough to thoroughly entertain.

The opening track of her new solo album, “Flight Pattern of a Butterfly”, leaves you in no doubt. All but one of the tracks are her own work, the exception being Burt Bacharach’s “What’s It All About, Alfie”, and this certainly gets some treatment. The pieces unfold like the chapters of a book, her clean articulation and bright playing can have an entrancing effect, her classical involvement can not be denied, whether it is consciously introduced or otherwise, elements of those moody romantics, Chopin and Brahms, can be detected enriching her brave and personal style. She talks to you profoundly with her playing, reaching out and touching, moving things within you, gently revealing and causing you to think. Judy would be someone that you could look forward to having dinner with. You know that the conversation would sparkle, there would be plenty of new ideas and you would never be bored. She sees the human spirit as being on an endless journey; a restless one perhaps, one looking for an identity that can never be quite fulfilled.

This is a tremendously moving and worthwhile CD. The more it is listened to the more it will offer up its secrets.

Ferdinand Maylin
(Ferdinand Maylin is a freelance Jazz Critic based in Scotland)
- Jazz Now (L.A.)


"Waiting On a New Day"

"A jazz recording made in Jerusalem is not that common. Pianist Lewis, however, uses that venue on this solo recording (plus one duet) Waiting On a New Day. The American artist plays her own compositions almost exclusively, with one Bacharach tune being the exception. From the opening notes, it is obvious that Lewis is a classically trained musician. Her approach to improvisation has the embedded structure of the European art form, and she uses it to develop richly phrased improvisations having a melancholy bent. Lewis introduces densely formed chord structures. She adds the classical developmental approach with her left hand and melodic expressiveness with the right. On the title cut, she overdubs electric keyboard segments, but this does not shake the weightiness of her approach or the brooding persona of her style.

The pensiveness of her playing is pervasive. On the theme from the movie Alfie, she sinks deeply into the tune's core while musically asking the probing question indicated by its title. Lewis also uses her voice as a backdrop for this and two other selections to add a choral effect. She lightens the program somewhat with her Children's Sketches comprised of four of her own compositions. These tunes dwell mainly in the upper register of the piano and reflect hope as opposed to the solemn atmosphere felt elsewhere. Electric keyboard overdubbing is used as well in one of the four tracks to convey these feelings. The closing number of the album is a duet with drummer Nathaniel Lasry, who adds a soft texture to the song.

Lewis is a talented composer and player, and she reveals much about her inner self on this set. Its seriousness translates directly to its attractiveness."

Frank Rubolino
- Cadence Jazz Magazine (N.Y.)


"Two On the Horizon"

Milwaukee-born, Israeli resident pianist Judy Lewis is classically
trained (she performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at
seventeen), but turned to jazz just under a decade ago, since when she has established herself as a star attraction on the international jazz circuit. It's easy to see why; "Two on the Horizon" sets her
alternately rythmically robust and filigree-delicate piano against one of the most attractive, dexterous, delicate guitar sounds you're likely to hear, that of the teenaged Orr Didi, whose playing may remind UK listeners of that of Antonio Forcione. Although undeniably virtuosic, the playing on this attractive, immediately accessible album is also spontaneously joyous and celebratory, the duo striking musical sparks off each other whether they're rollicking through the vigorous pieces or producing more meditative music (REM's 'Everybody Hurts', the album's only non-original, a perfect example of the latter). Including bonus video footage, playable on Mac or PC, this album, with its influences ranging from Bach to progressive rock, should be accessible not only to jazz listeners, but to anyone moved by the lively musical interplay of like-minded souls.

Chris Parker
(*Chris Parker is a freelance Jazz critic for numerous UK Jazz publications including BBC Music Magazine and Jazz Review)
- Vortex Jazz


"Judy Lewis Group: Live at Pizza Express"


Late starters are not common in jazz, but Judy Lewis, the Israelbased
American former classical pianist, was 31 before she
heard her first jazz concert - and made a career switch. Now
she's on her first tour of the UK, with an Israeli trio travelling
under the falsely forbidding title of Phoenix Over Manhattan
Acoustic.
Like Sweden's Esbjorn Svensson, Lewis has come to jazz by a
back route (Svensson's path was via English rock music), and
consequently doesn't play in the way a Hancock, Tyner, Jarrett
or Mehldau might do if leading a contemporary acoustic jazz
group. Now a prolific composer, she has developed a tightly
arranged, primarily ensemble-based music, with improvised
solos developing within a tumult of accompanying voices and
staying close to repeating hooks, another Svensson link.
The pieces often open as rhapsodic, romantic-classical piano
overtures, and turn into punchy grooves bustling with recurring
themes - and the electric bass-and-drums partnership of Dolev
Solomon and Udi Shlomo maintains a fierce urgency that fuels
much of the group's drive.

Lewis elegantly deployed contrasts between delicate reflection
and vivacious Middle-Eastern dance patterns, switching abruptly
into crackling funk. She even reinvented Jerome Kern's
Yesterdays, and intensified the furore of jostling interlocking
themes on her own Voices, with Tal Gur's soprano saxophone
threading through it.
Gur complemented the ensemble well enough, although his
lines rarely departed much from the post-Coltrane whoopysoprano
repertoire. This may be a group stretched a little
uneasily between the search for rock thrills and jazz surprises,
but it's no clone of anybody else, even Esbjorn Svensson.
- The Guardian (UK)


"Judy Is Just a Joy"

Jazz is a demanding taskmaster. You labour long and hard to become an accomplished musician and it's only then you discover if you have a gift for playing it.
In the case of the American pianist Judy Lewis, that process was a little more circuitous. Classically trained, she was performing Beethoven and Mozart with symphony orchestras in her late teens. Then marriage, religion and a move to Israel meant abandoning a promising career. But after divorce and with four children to raise came a more secular outlook and the discovery of jazz.
Her entry point to the music was through recordings by pianist Keith Jarrett. The result is Jarrett minus the sense of a good thing taken to wearying extremes. Lewis is less intense and more free flowing. Her music reflects her adopted home; Tal Gur on soprano saxophone was full of mid-Eastern allusions such as a semitone pitch bends on 'Dear Addiction', while bassist Gilad Abro and drummer Shay Zelman shaped the music's intensity with rhythms that had their roots in popular culture.
Zelman was a musical barometer. When things were happening he lit the stage with a infectious grin. By the end, he was smiling all the time.
- The Observer (UK)


"Judy Jazz"

"Judy Lewis is probably the nearest thing we have here to Keith Jarrett. Her second album, Prayer in Black & White, reveals a pianist working at the very highest level of intensity and determined to make her own inner voice heard loud and clear.

Lewis is joined on this outing by young drummer Shahar Haziza and veteran bassist Eli Magen, with Guy Shoshani adding voacls on one of the eight tracks.

Magen, in particular is a revelation here. Over the past three decades Magen has been one of the mainstays of the Israeli Jazz scene and has generally performed definitively mainstream music. On Prayer in Black & White, Magen constantly surprises with unexpected forays, such as his midstream lead on My Funny Valentine which takes the Trio far away from the melodious theme into untested waters.

The other seven tracks are all Lewis original. There are more Jarrett-like references on The Way Home which opens with a subtly driving theme backed by Haziza's ungloved drumming. Haziza has gained something of a reputation as a percussion firebrand, and his more delicate work on this project is a welcome addition to his arsenal.

Magen's lugubriously lyrical bowed bass solo on The Way Home, followed by Lewis's energized bluesy and somewhat funky piano solo, is one of the high points of the album, while Haziza underpins both bass and piano on this number emphatically and sensitively.

Shoshani's soul-vocalese contribution to the title track adds a fourth dimension to a richly woven album on which Lewis makes a powerful statement as a mature composer and artist. Jarrett comparisons aside, Lewis definately has a lot to offer from her own musical and spiritual reserves, and one looks forward to further offerings with anticipation."
- The Jerusalem Post


"A Most Unorthodox Player"


From classical to jazz, rock to reggae; people of all types of musical backgrounds love Rush. Jazz pianist Judy Lewis is no exception. She's currently on tour with her jazz rock fusion band the New Judy Lewis Quartet. She recently had a talk with Ben Shalev of Haaretz.com. From the article:

... Lewis' transformation from a classical pianist into a jazz pianist was not easy. At first she tried, "to get into jazz in the accepted way - by listening to major pianists, and learning how to play bebop and standards." It took a few years before she understood this method did not suit her and that her musical preferences would take her in a completely different direction. "I actually barely listen to jazz," she says, as she points to the top shelf of her CD collection where her favorites are stored. "About 95 percent of the time, I listen to progressive rock and metal."

"Bands like Dream Theater, Rush, and Metallica - those are musicians who think in a symphonic fashion - they work with many layers of sound. It's really reminiscent of classical music and close to the way that I approach composition."

Lewis' last album, "No Expectations," released in 2004, exposes her love of rock: One track is entitled, "It is Now Officially a Big Rock Show." Another track is a tribute to Frank Zappa, including wild vocals. It begins like an old standard and is suddenly interrupted by a throbbing, certifiably metal rhythm. ... - Rush Is a Band


"Judy Lewis: No Expectations"

Lewis began as a classical pianist in the USA, met with success but moved to Israel at the age of 19 where she raised a family. Although she saw her first Jazz concert at the age of 31, when she returned to music it was a s a Jazz pianist, and soon began to make her mark on the Israeli Jazz scene. This is her fourth album and is with a group she calls "Phoenix Over Manhattan, which began life as a fusion group. But "No Expectations" is an acoustic album. Confused? Well fortunately the music does the talking here!

Lewis is an intense, probing pianist and this album a little gem. Her thoughtful compositions are sensitively interpreted by her Israeli group, who really are first class musicians. It suggests the best Israeli Jazz is of a very high standard – indeed maybe we knew this all along without realizing it, with world class musicians of the stature of Avishai Cohen and Gilad Atzmon establishing careers outside Israel.

It opens with "Voices" a reflective piece which features Gur's expressive soprano saxophone and who plays a key role in the albums success. "Memoirs of a Reluctant Warrior" is a musical self portrait but the ear is drawn to Solomon's bass and his impeccable intonation and timing. In truth, this is an album full of surprises and delights; my favorite track is "It Is Now Officially a Big Rock Show" that showcases the overall musicality of the group.

Lewis played the Pizza Express not so long ago. I won't make the mistake of missing her next time!

Stuart Nicholson
- Jazzwise Magazine (UK)


"Waiting On a New Day"

“The Israeli pianist and composer, Judy Lewis, plays a unique type of Jazz; more exactly a combination of Jazz and Classical genres. In such a case, the natural tendency would be to make comparisons to Keith Jarrett, another great pianist who’s works reflect this fusion. However, Judy Lewis withstands such comparisons. Her music stands uniquely on it’s own.

Her complete control of the solo piano medium, in all of its variety and her obvious devotion to lyricism, make for a beautiful and well rounded album. This is not music for the Jazz purists but will certainly interest a wider audience that appreciates beautiful, poignant piano music.”

Carina Prange
- Jazz Dimensions (Germany)


Discography

Weaver of Dreams (1999)
Prayer In Black & White (2001)
Waiting On a New Day (2003)
No Expectations (2004)
Two On the Horizon (2006)

Photos

Bio

If ever there was an Indy artist who truly deserved the title, it is Judy Lewis. In the 10 short years since abandoning a flourishing career as a concert classical pianist and turning to Jazz, she has made her mark on the global Jazz scene rubbing shoulders with New York Times reporters, dignitaries, and the directors of some of Europe’s most prestigious Jazz clubs and festivals. Armed only with passion, faith and an obsessive dedication to hard work, she has been her own manager, booking agent, record label CEO and publicist for nearly a decade. The fact is that Judy started this journey 10 years ago as the single Mom of 4 small children, working a 40 hour a week day job, struggling to find 4 to 5 hours a day to practice and promote her music. She didn’t hesitate for a second when producing her first album (Weaver of Dreams, 1999) required selling her brand new car to do so. Now, a decade later (and with a more modest car) she has just released album #5 on her own Indy Jazz label, Visionary Insomniac Records and is recognized by fans and press worldwide as a truly unique 21st century artist.

Judy Lewis was born Judy Levine, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She began classical piano studies at age 7 and by age 9 it was clear to all that she would be a formidable musical entity in the future. As she put prize after prize under her belt she began to create a name for herself in the Classical world. At age 15 she won the Wisconsin Young Artists Competition, at age 16 the Wisconsin All Stars Competition, and at age 17 the Outstanding Music & Youth Award that included a performance with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Judy continued her studies at the prestigious Columbia University in New York, but her stay there lasted only 2 years. During her first year of college Judy became taken with the spiritual side of Jewish teachings. Little by little God replaced music as Judy was drawn into the tightly closed world of religion. After 2 years in university Judy moved to Jerusalem to study religion fulltime. Two years later she married a rabbinical student and left music forever…or so everyone thought.

For 10 years Judy Lewis remained a part of the most fervently religious sect in Israel. She had 4 children and worked odd jobs to make money for her family. But, thoughts of the dream she had given up haunted her. In 1995, Judy divorced, left the religious community for good and set out on her own, now a single mother of 4, to find that dream. With no degree and no job experience, Judy began to take in private piano students and worked to complete her university degree through correspondence. A year later she landed a job as music teacher at a local primary school and enrolled in the Rubin Academy of Music to get a second degree and teaching certification in Music Education, which she received 2 years later.

Having settled the issues of supporting her family, Judy turned to the difficult task of reclaiming her standing as a professional musician. For 3 years she played Classical music, but with little passion, until one day she heard her very first Jazz concert and in seconds realized that this was the voice she had been looking for. The dream was found. The rest is a self composed fairy tale in the making…

Judy Lewis’s classical training as well as her passion for progressive Rock music have continually informed her personal vision of Jazz and have led to a fresh new stylistic conception. With major influences stretching from Dream Theater to the Peter Erskine Trio, her own brand of what she likes to call “acoustic fusion”, has gleaned praise from Jazzers and Rockers alike. John Fordham of The Guardian, upon hearing her band in concert at the world famous Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, called the music “a rare phenomenon” and singled Lewis out as “no clone of anybody else”.

Today, Judy Lewis has 5 albums of original Jazz music out on the international market, distributed worldwide and reviewed by the worlds leading Jazz and Music Journals. She is managing director of her own record label, Visionary Insomniac Records, and regularly tours Europe and Israel. She has been a pioneer of Jazz education in Israel, establishing the first high school Jazz Music Department in the country in 2001. Lewis is a teacher of Jazz Interpretation & Improvisation at the Rubin Academy of Music, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. In addition, she also teaches courses in Popular Songwriting, and Self Promotion for the Independent Artist, at Musrara College of Music and Media in Jerusalem. Judy Lewis is on a small and prestigious list of Israeli artists sponsored by the Israel Foreign Ministry as ambassadors of Israeli Culture abroad. Thanks to the Ministry, she has headlined such international festivals as The Calcutta International Jazz Festival, The Nepal International Jazz Festival, The Birmingham Women In Music Festival , The Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (Canada) and the Prague Solo Piano Jazz Festival. In 2008 Ju