Sense of Wonder
REVIEW FROM CADENCE MAGAZINE By: Jim Santella The Laurie Lewis Quintet with Heather Stewart portrays original compositions that swing and interprets them with an authentic jazz mood. Loping casually through timeless songs that recall the era before Bebop the quintet and guests provide a refreshing program with an aesthetic appeal designed for right-brain audiences who appreciate a little help from left-brain rhythms. Lewis' compositions and musical arrangements are soothing enough to satisfy, while allowing plenty of room for superb soloing. His wife, Alwyn Lewis wrote the lyrics. Together they make a grand songwriting duo. The music showcases Doug de Vries' lyrical guitar, Mark Fitzgibbon's crystal-clear piano, and Lewis' dry, muscular tenor. Ballads allow them to tell stories of longing, loving, leaving and laughter. Heather Stewart interprets with a mellow charm, as she allows her phrases to overlap seamlessly with smooth edges. Breathlessly, she holds down the session's intensity level so that whispers can be enhanced and passion can be controlled. Bossa Novas and slower musical strolls enable the quintet to relax at length, their audience, of course, stands as the beneficiary. As the 'other horn' in the ensemble, de Vries provides beautiful guitar melodies that keep the pace moderate and moody. Stewart's vocals and Lewis' instrumental soliloquies form a cohesive bond with the unit. His tenor makes a particularly soothing appearance on the gentle Samba 'Butterfly Wings', which floats a soulful impression to the listener, as if on a cloud. The high point of the album comes with 'It's On Again', a brief arrangement that runs fast, bright and with spirit. Stewart's scat singing gives the session an uplifting quality that folds in seamlessly with the charming presentation of her instrumental partners. Together, they interpret jazz as a timeless music that tells it's story over relaxed moods and gentler forms of persuasion. REVIEW FROM JAZZSCENE By Pam Brow On this artistically presented CD of the original words and music of Alwyn and Laurie Lewis, charmingly sung by Heather Stewart with the backing of the Laurie Lewis Quintet and guests, we are treated to a collection of blues, ballads and Latin flavoured modern adult love songs, magical musings, and reflections on life, love and nature. Laurie, tenor and percussion; Mark Fitzgibbon piano; Doug de Vries, guitar; Geoff Kluke, bass; Rajiv Jayaweera and Ben VanderWal drums give sensitive and sympathetic support to Heather whose refreshingly simple and gentle approach infuses the songs with warmth, colour and a little melancholy. Alwyn's lyrics reflect her thoughtful and ironic humour; her joy in life and love; and the music switches from catchy to lyrical and pensive and back again, never once straying from the tasteful and swinging. This is a CD to savour on a winter's night in front of the fire with someone you love, a glass of wine in your hand. A special pleasure. REVIEW FROM ARTSJOURNAL RIFFTIDES By Doug Ramsey FROM DOWN UNDER It is a challenge to create eleven songs on demand, which is why so many albums consisting entirely of originals are less than compelling. The success rate is high in A SENSE OF WONDER, a compact disc of songs written by the veteran Australian tenor saxophonist Laurie Lewis and his lyricist wife Alwyn. Young Heather Stewart sings the songs with a sweet innocence. She handles lyrics well and has good intonation, not an epidemic among vocalists. The jewel of the collection is DON'T ASK. I am also taken with the regretful RATHER THAN LOVE and the title song. Lewis, pianist Mark Fitzgibbon and guitarist Doug de Vries have relaxed solos throughout. SYDNEY JAZZ ACTION SOCIETY REVIEW by Joy Mestroni The songwriting team of sensitive lyricist Alwyn Lewis and the sophisticated music of Laurie Lewis: they have written songs that are destined to be new standards. LONGING, the first tune starts us on our voyage of discovery. A classy guitar solo from Doug de Vries on the title track A SENSE OF WONDER and some tasteful cello from Imogen Manins. Listen up singers. The lyrics of NOT MY TYPE are particularly poignant. RATHER THAN LOVE is a song of recovery. WALTZ FOR SPRING is a song of hope. Mark Fitzgibbon is another beautiful piano player. The horn arrangement on DON'T ASK is all jazz. Laurie Lewis on tenor and Roger Clark on alto do a magnificent job. Ben VanerWal plays drums on several tracks. I was swaying to the clave rim shot in SUMMER IN SEATTLE. Rajiv Jayaweera continues the rim shots on BUTTERFLY WINGS. IT'S ON AGAIN is a new swing number complete with a scat double with the sax. The bass playing of Geoff Kluke complements each style. Young vocalist Heather Stewart has a breathy quality to her voice which really lends itself to these tunes. FRANGIPANI opens with Laura Uhe on castanets and Joe Ruberto on accordion before launching into a tango. The last tune COMPANY OF STRANGERS is a raunchy blues.