Alan Lewine is a bassist and composer currently living in the Philadelphia region. He founded Owlsong Productions Inc. Lewine has performed and recorded all over the world, besides the U.S., in Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Israel, Cuba and Mexico. His musical efforts have explored a wide range of styles, that have included straight-ahead and modern jazz, bebop, swing, dixie, avant garde, blues, bolero, afropop, salsa, samba, as well as contemporary classical, baroque, Balinese gamelan and flamenco-influenced music. His jazz group Red Hot Peppers was the top traditional jazz group in the Southwest US during the latter half of the 80s. He has also recently embarked on explorations of Cuban music and the Spanish medieval Sephardic music tradition with Ana María Ruimonte through their OWLSONG project Sephardic Treasures.
Alan first took up the string bass in 1978. Though he began musical studies on piano at age 6, and later studied composition and arranging with Bill Wood, Scott Wilkinson, Darrell Randall and others, he was never formally trained on the bass but 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.”
Alan has worked with many of the great names in jazz over the years, in all styles. Alan met Milt “the Judge” Hinton in 1982, and the Judge became an early principal teacher and mentor. Leroy Vinnegar was also a great mentor and inspiration when they frequently crossed paths through the jazz scene in Portland, Oregon in the early 90s. Lewine has received “green room” lessons, counsel and encouragement from the likes of Ray Brown, Harvie S, Major Holley, Lynn Seaton, John Clayton and Bruce Gertz. Alan made numerous appearances with “alto madness” saxophonist Richie Cole in the 1980s. He has also performed with clarinetists Eddie Daniels and Kenny Davern, sax masters Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan, Les McCann 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, Mickey Roker and Butch Miles, guitarists such as Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis, young turk Roy Hargrove, and old masters like Sweets Edison, Stephane Grapelli and Carl Fontana and many others. Once in the 80s he played duets with Charlie Haden, an experience that made a deep and lasting impression. He composed and performed around Washington D.C., including with the Alan Lewine Xtet, the Afro-Jazz Explosion, Gamelan Mitra Kusuma and as a side man.
Alan’s interest in all forms of musical and cultural expression has also led him to study traditional Ghanaian (Ewe) percussion with Obo Addy in Portland, OR, and Balinese gamelan gong kebyar with I Nyoman Suadin in Washington, D.C. Lewine performed in Suadin's Gamelan Mitra Kusuma playing the jegogan, a midbass xylophone-like instrument around Washington D.C. from 1999 through 2007. He has also worked the last several years with and recorded Never Home, an album of traditional delta and Piedmont blues, with Johnny Never in 2011.
During 2016 through 2020, Ana María and Alan Lewine undertook six successful tours of Cuba, performing in Salon Lecuona of the Gran Teatro de la Habana, the Sala Teatral of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, the Museos de la Música in both Havana and Santiago de Cuba, the Sinagoga Centro Hebreo Sefaradi in Vedado, the Auditorio of the Biblioteca Nacional “José Marti”, Teatro Bertold Brecht, Pabiilón Cuba and the spectacular Teatro America in Havana, and several other locations.
In January 2017, Alan produced Ana María and Huberal Herrera, the greatest living exponent of the music of Ernesto Lecuona, recorded a CD of the music of Lecuona, Rosas para Lecuona, soon to be released on Owlsong.
After 16 years as a full-time journeyman jazz bassist, Alan “dropped out” of the music scene in 1994 to attend law school, and later worked as a technology 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.
Also a scholar, Alan taught music theory from a jazz perspective at Portland State University in Oregon and has written and lectured about ethnomusicology and the history and anthropology of various jazz styles. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the International Society of Bassists and Philadelphia’s Jazz Bridge Project.
Alan recently switched his primary instrument to a late 19th C ¾ Tyrol bass from his too large and heavy early 19th century 4/4 Mittenwald bass. He uses Kolstein Heritage strings and Kolstein Ultra rosin, and when amplification is needed, a Planet Wing pickup and Acoustic Image amplifier.
Over a dozen NM-MIC (New Mexico Music Industry Coalition) nominations in the late 1980s for best album (jazz), best composition (jazz), album of the year, best producer (jazz), best cover song (jazz), etc.
2017 Nominee as producer for the prize Cubadisco (Cuba’s “grammy”) based on a limited Cuban pre-release of Rosas para Lecuona.
SOPRANO MEETS BASS: Sephardic Treasures. Songs of medieval Spanish-Jewish (Sephardic) origin, arranged in a modern jazz/flamenco/classical/middle eastern fusion style.Ansonica Records & Naxos, July 2020.
ALAN LEWINE XTET: Original Jazz 21stC. Original straight ahead, modern and Latin jazz compositions by Alan performed by his XTET. Owlsong, coming 2020.
ALAN LEWINE XTET: Jazzes for Lecuona. Alan’s jazz arrangements of songs by Ernesto Lecuona. Owlsong, coming 2021.
ANA MARÍA RUIMONTE:Secillamente Martí Vol 1 (30 min EP). Art songs and arias by living Cuban composers with lyrics by Cuba’s great poet and hero, José Martí, accompanied by maestro Huberal Herrera, on piano and members of Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Cuba. Producer, bassist. Owlsong, 2019.
ANA MARÍA RUIMONTE:Rosas para Lecuona. Art songs and arias by Cuba’s greatest composer, Ernesto Lecuona, accompanied by maestro Huberal Herrera, who worked with Lecuona in the late 1950s, on piano. Producer. Owlsong, 2018
ANA MARÍA RUIMONTE: Alma y Vida de Mujer (Soulan Life of a Woman). Art songs and arias of the 19th – 21st Centuries, accompanied by Laurie Rogers on piano. Producer. Owlsong. 2015.
OWLSONG: Sampler. Selections from the Owlsongcatalog as of 2014. Featuring Ana María singing baroque songs and operatic arias, the first incarnation of Soprano Meets Bass with Alan and Ana María, and samples of Alan’s jazz by The Alan Lewine Septet, Lewine/Brown Xtet and Red Hot Producer, performer, composer. Owlsong. 2014.
ANA MARÍA DÍAZ: Arded, Corazón, Arded(Burn, Heart, Burn). Love Songs of the Spanish Baroque, accompanied by baroque guitar and cello. Producer. Owlsong. 2014.
DEAR MADELEINE: The ISB Sessions Vol I. Includes the Alan LewineXtet with Tony Miceli on vibes and Matt Galletti on drums performing Alan’s Soñar Contigo, and also featuring performances and compositions by jazz masters John Clayton, Ron Carter, Rufus Reid, Lynn Seaton, Tom Knific, Chris Kosky, Todd Coolman and Jim Ferguson, and classical maestros David Murray, Jeff Bradetich, Thierry Barbé and Gary Karr, new music specialists Mark Dresser and Michael Moore, as well as Frank Proto and Edgar Meyer. Bassist, Composer. ISB Records, 2013.
JOHNNY NEVER & THE SOULAR PIMPS: Never Home. Traditional acoustic Delta and Piedmont blues by a great ensemble fronted by country blues master and scholar Johnny Never. Bassist. MediaDog Records, 2011.
GRACE CHUNG: Liking You Liking Me. Powerful Australian vocalist (and an MIT PhD scientist specializing in artificial intelligence) with arrangements by Grace and guitarist John Kamman with some of Washington DC’s most gifted musicians. Bassist, Co-producer. Owlsong, 2005. Learn more at All About Jazz
JOHN KAMMAN: Trio. Featuring the jazz guitar and compositions of Washington DC’s John Kamman with other fine musicians. Bassist, Co-producer. Owlsong, 2003
ESTHER HAYNES. Award-winning Washington DC based early blues, swing and ragtime vocalist. Bassist.
VATTEL CHERRY’S BASS RESPÄNSE. Avant gardequartet of great bass composer/improvisors. Bassist, composer, co-producer. Owlsong, 2001. Now available again, 2020.
LEWINE/BROWN XTET: Freewheeling. Contemporary, classic and original jazz, led by Alan and guitarist Bob Brown and a coterie of New Mexico’s best jazzers. Bassist, Composer, Producer. Owlsong, 1991. (remastered and re-released at owlsong.bandcamp.com, 2020).
NEW MEXICO JAZZ SAMPLER: New Mexico Jazz Workshop Vol I. Compilation including Alan with the Lewine/Brown Xtetand the Pat Rhoads Trio. NMJW/Rettinger Records, 1990.
RED HOT PEPPERS: Bourbon Street Bash. Dixieland and trad jazz by an octet of veteran performers based in New Mexico. Bassist, Producer. Owlsong, 1989. (remastered and re-released at owlsong.bandcamp.com, 2020).
ALAN LEWINE SEPTET: Original Jazz. Recorded live in concert at the famous Kimo Theater in 1985. Straight ahead originals by Alan Lewine. Bassist, Composer, Producer. Owlsong, 1986. (remastered and re-released at owlsong.bandcamp.com, 2020).
Check out all the owlsong releases