Label/Year: Self-produced, 2017
Lineup - Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: saxophone; Steven Feifke: piano; Raviv Markovitz: bass; Jimmy MacBride: drums; Randy Brecker: trumpet (guest).
Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, 27, is an American saxophonist, born and based in New York, whose musical path expanded in several fronts. As a sideman, he’s been working for pop figures like Taylor Swift, Don Henley, and Phillip Phillips, and also jazz creators such as pianists Dave Brubeck and Joe Gilman, drummer Clarence Penn, and trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and his father Arturo, a Latin-jazz enthusiast and composer.
Four years ago, realizing it was time for him to move forward, he released Imagery Manifesto, a great starting point for a career as a leader.
His sophomore album, Onward, features nine tracks, which divide into five originals and four renditions of widely known pieces.
To fulfill what he had in mind, Chad enlisted pianist Steven Feifke, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and drummer Jimmy MacBride as elements of his quartet. He also borrowed the voice of giant trumpeter Randy Brecker for a couple of tunes.
The first step was taken with the title track, a soulful, expansive, and mind-blowing conference on spirituality that evokes Kenny Garrett, Joe Farrell, and John Coltrane in all their grandiosity. The bandleader’s mode of expression transpires energy and thrives through the cutting-edge timbre of his tenor sax. While Feifke astutely adopts McCoy-ish modes, Markovitz and MacBride snatch the rhythmic flow with urgency and distinction.
Coltrane is revisited once again with one of his most remarkable tunes, “Giant Steps”. Saxophone and drums determine the effervescent intro of an arrangement that asks for shifts in tempo and incites to a fiery swinging groove for the improvisational blocks.
On the winsome “Franklin St”, Randy Brecker tosses in the pungent lyricism that has always characterized him, repeating the dose on the gravitational “Blues for Randy”, wrote by the bandleader with his guest in mind. Besides the early spasmodic strokes inflicted by Feifke, the latter tune offers us vigorous solos, climaxing in a prosperous horn interplay.
“Deviation” is another Lefkowitz-Brown’s original that, despite the title, doesn’t deviate much from the style presented here. It’s a tribute to Brubeck, picturing fast, urban landscapes created through a happy-go-lucky concoction of bop, fainted crossover jazz, and post-bop.
Stevie Wonder’s popular hit “Isn’t She Lovely” is delivered with a similar feeling as the original but comes packed with a fresh rhythmic zest, while Cole Porter’s “All of You” is re-harmonized in a free-flowing way, swinging along whenever the soloists step forward.
Onward is an album as much equilibrated as dynamic, exhibiting the exceptional qualities, compositional and instrumental, of Lefkowitz-Brown.
Provided with the extra motivation drawn from his peers’ musicianship, he seems to know exactly where he has to go, and two albums are enough to realize that there’s an auspicious future coming his way.
01 – Onward ► 04 – Giant Steps ► 06 – Deviation