Highly entertaining recording debut from Lewis Wright

Lewis Wright Duets

Lewis Wright (vibraphone) & Kit Downes (piano)

This is the debut recording of Lewis Wright, an award-winning British vibraphonist, composer and drummer based in London. On this CD Wright is joined by British pianist, Kit Downes with whom he has an obvious rapport. I am not aware of much material written for the combination of vibraphone and piano, but Lewis Wright recognises the potential of this pairing to produce music that is rhythmically interesting and polyphonically grand.

The disc is composed of seven short pieces that contrast in mood and give rise to a truly mesmerising, if all too short, experience that  showcases the incredible technical mastery of both these musicians. It is hard to classify these works: are they chamber jazz? I guess they can best be considered as a meeting point between jazz, improvisation and contemporary classical. The two musicians share a long history dating back to their childhoods in Norfolk and this shared experience no doubt adds to the quality of their interaction in these works.

These new works somehow seem immediately familiar and cover a range of moods: at times thoughtful, at others lively and full of vigour and sometimes oh so serene. The ballads Sati and An Absence of Heart are delightfully romantic pieces without being over sentimental. The album opens with the minimalistic  Fire & Flow. Ono No Komachi is an excellent piece. Upbeat works like Tokyo ’81, which can be sampled on YouTube below, and Fortuna with their changing rhythms hint at Wright’s background as a drummer.

The dazzling closing work Kintamani contains some outstanding improvisatory passages and brings the album to a fitting conclusion that leaves the listener longing for more.

No true lover of music could fail to be moved by this outstanding debut recording that wins our Collectors’ Choice award this month. Don’t let a lack of familiarity with this repertoire, or an aversion to contemporary music, stand in your way. Just seek out the album, sit back and enjoy! I congratulate Signum Classics not only on bringing such wonderful music to a wider audience but also capturing the balance of the instruments and the unique ringing sound of the vibraphone in a demonstration worthy recording. Lewis Wright is clearly a highly talented composer and perform with a big future ahead of him and I await his next release with eager anticipation.

iClassical rating: 

Stream on Spotify or purchase from Presto Classical.