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Iván “Melón” Lewis: Ayer y Hoy

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Iván Melón Lewis portrait

Featured photo of Iván “Melón” Lewis by Antonio Porcar

The repertoire consists of nine relatively short pieces – only two are over six minutes – inspired by his musical love letter from the past, so in a sense there is one long movement of incongruously spectacular, reflective beauty followed by another and then another. His music is unpredictably angular, with an emotional edge that is full of ardent nuances and surprising, heated phrases that turn the music into white hot creative pieces. Throughout you are made aware of Iván “Melón” Lewis’ bristling ingenuity that is expressed in virtuoso form through beautiful glissandos and towering arpeggios punctuated by percussive stabs at a keyboard that is drawn into unexpected realms of enchantment.

Album cover - Iván Melón Lewis: Ayer y Hoy
Album cover – Iván Melón Lewis: Ayer y Hoy

At no point in this viscerally exciting performance does Iván “Melón” Lewis resort to ‘oversharing’ with the audience to make a point. Although he is revered for his musical intensity, it isn’t as obvious here as it may be in his recordings with Buika and others, and quite rightly. One of the qualities best served by his respectful withdrawal from the soul-baring front line of the music is that its dance identity is so joyfully evident – the phrases relay into each other like a figure skater moving from pose to pose, the end of each never experiences a heavy footfall. The pianist is so fleet of foot even in the slowest movements that it is not long before it becomes clear that this performance is a masterclass of restraint and musical altruism.

There is a no less superb sense of alternating heartache and heart-ease in Iván “Melón” Lewis’ incense-laden arrangements of these fabulous pieces. All this and more is enough to make you fall in love all over again with the piano and music that is recognisable indeed for its indelible idiom and metaphor.

Track List Montuniana; Ocho para todos; Ayer y hoy; (Feat. Paquito D’Rivera); Camino (To Angel Charles); Latido del Alma (Feat. Concha Buika); Mizizi; Gala & Nena; Vereda Tropical; Aún me falta.

Personnel Iván “Melón” Lewis: piano, percussion and vocals; Ariel Bringuez: tenor and soprano saxophones; Reinier ‘El Negrón’ Elizarde: bass (2, 4, 6 & 7); Alain Pérez: bass (1, 3, 5 & 8); Dafnis Prieto: drums (4, 5, 6 & 7); Michael Olivera: drums (1, 2 & 8); Yuri Nogueira: congas, timbal and güiro (1, 3 & 8); Pedro Pablo Rodriguez: batá and chekere (2); Yuvisney Aguilar: batá and percussion (5); Carlos Sarduy: trumpet (8); Roy Toledano: vocals (3); Kumar Subevao-Beat: vocals (5), Buika: vocals (5); Paquito D’Rivera: reeds (3).

Released – 2015
Label – Cezanne Producciones
Runtime – 55:16

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