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Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing pianist Eric Lewis perform solo piano for a free masterclass at THEARC in southeast. He is a kind and thoughtful person, listening to the young students of the Levine School play their solo pieces and giving them insightful commentary before stepping up to the piano himself.

What did the Monk-Competition-winning-Wynton-Marsalis-recording-jazz-musician’s-musician play?
Green Chimneys? Take the A-Train? 26-2?

Try Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”. He has completely re-branded himself as a rock pianist, insisting he created a new genre of “rockjazz” where he performs while standing with legs triangle-pose askew and sporting a sparkling bit of wrist armor. Somehow it’s cynical and great at the same time.

I can’t deny that I enjoyed his raucous rendition of Human Nature, all though I was living for the more Cecil Taylor-esque moments of disconcerting hammer attack. It’s interesting that it isn’t enough for him to be at the top of the heap in the jazz world, financially or personally. He is clearly an incredible musician, and he was very vocal about his choices that have lead him to this point. Rock tunes by Jazz Pianists. It’s been done before, but I didn’t expect from him.

Great guy, crazy (like a fox?) approach to the music world.