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One of the newest, fastest-rising jazz personalities in D.C. is Lydia Lewis, a young drummer and educator with a crisp sound and startling grasp of tricky rhythmic signatures. Her profile has risen significantly this year as she’s worked with tenor saxophonist Elijah Balbed at Bayou, played through the Washington Women in Jazz Festival this spring, and had regular performances with Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes and substitute gigs with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. It’s about to elevate even further, with the release of her debut album.
Cosmic Collisions, so named for the astronomical themes of the tracks, is a sparkling set of 13 hard- and post-bop tunes recorded in May with a superb sextet of local musicians (Balbed, pianist Bobby Jasinski, bassist Kris Funn, singer Lena Seikaly, and second drummer Alphonso Young). Being a drummer’s record, it’s preoccupied with rhythmic aggression and some unexpected shifts—-plus at least one jaw-dropping, virtuosic drum feature on the title track. But there’s an unquestionable reservoir of melody contained within as well, expressed in original tunes that each member of the band contributed; hence, it’s not just a solid debut by a promising young talent, but an important showcase for several of the District’s most gifted musicians.
All of which is a good reason to attend Lewis’ CD release party for Cosmic Collisions this evening at Twins Jazz, where she will be leading the band from the album (minus Young). Twins is at 1344 U Street NW; admission is $10.