Bassist/composer Alan Lewine, relocated to Philadelphia a few years ago, where he has married and reopened Owlsong Productions with his wife, Spanish soprano Ana María Ruimonte. Working with Ana María as SOPRANO MEETS CONTRABASS renamed MEZZO MEETS BASS, Lewine has become more active since 2014.
Lewine performs and has recorded all styles of jazz from dixie to avant garde, blues, afropop, salsa, samba, as well as contemporary classical and flamenco-influenced music. He embarked on an exploration of the Sephardic tradition, too. It all flows through his unique sensibility as a player and composer. Lewine first took up the string bass in 1978. Though he began musical studies on piano at age 6, he was never formally trained on the bass. He learned primarily by playing. “Most of my early lessons were from pianists or guitarists who would yell at me when I played a wrong chord or drummers like the one who actually once threw his sticks at me when I messed up the beat.” Milt “the Judge” Hinton, whom Lewine first met in 1982, was a principal teacher and mentor. Leroy Vinnegar was also a great inspiration when they frequently crossed paths around Portland, OR in the early 90s. More recently, John Clayton has provided crucial input and learning. Lewine has received “green room” lessons and encouragement from the likes of Ray Brown, Harvie Swartz, Major Holley, Lynn Seaton and Bruce Gertz as well. Lewine has worked with many of the great names in jazz over the years, in all styles. He made numerous appearances with “alto madness” saxophonist Richie Cole. He has also performed with clarinetists Eddie Daniels and Kenny Davern, sax masters Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan to Henry Threadgill, Jim Pepper and Vinnie Golia, vocalists such as Anita O'Day, Sheila Jordan and Mose Allison, pianists including Ronnie Matthews and George Cables, drummers Gus Johnson and Butch Miles, guitarists Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis, young turk Roy Hargrove, and old masters Sweets Edison, Stephane Grapelli and Carl Fontana and others. Once he played duets with Charlie Haden. Favorite bassists include the usual suspects - Milt Hinton, Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown (”the killer groove”), Scott LaFaro, Charlie Haden, Ron Carter, Jaco Pastorius, and Dave Holland, a list by no means exhaustive. Charles Mingus, Krsyztof Pendercki, Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, John Cage, Thelonious Monk, Joaquin Rodrigo, Iannis Xennakis, Tito Puente, Tomás Marco, Count Basie and Edgar Varese have been prime influences as band leaders and composers.
His interest in all forms of musical and cultural expression has led Lewine also to study traditional Ghanaian (Ewe) percussion with Obo Addy, Balinese gamelan with I Nyoman Suadin (and Lewine performed (usually playing the mid-bass xylophone-like Jegogan) in Suadin's Gamelan Mitra Kusuma around the Washington DC area on and off from 1999 through 2007). He studied and recorded traditional delta blues with Johnny Never (the CD “Never Home”). Lewine also studied composition formally with William Wood.
Alan Lewine "dropped out" from full time musicianship in 1994, went to law school, and later worked as a transactional and policy attorney with one of the world's major cable companies. He recently retired from that sideline and returned his focus to his music from his current base in the Philadelphia region but reaching around the world.
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