"Wishing Well"
Frank Duvall Jazz Trio

Robert Lewis/Frank Duvall

"Fearless Jones"
Robert Lewis/Frank Duvall

"Everything I Love"
Bob Alberti Quartet featuring Harry Allen

"Nice 'n' Easy"
Bob Alberti Trio

CD REVIEWS for "Swagger" and "Fearless Jones"

Roman St. James -

Double Bassist magazine

Michael Bettine - JazzNow

Jack McCray - Post & Courier

Cadence magazine

Roman St. James -

Fearless Jones is an excellent hard bop/modern jazz album. The band is co-led by saxophonist Robert Lewis and bassist Frank Duvall. Drummer Quentin Baxter and pianist Kevin Bales round out this fine quartet. The first thing that is apparent when you listen to this recording is the technical mastery each player has over his instrument. But that should come as no surprise - both Lewis and Duvall hold master's degrees in music and have each taught jazz at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

The next thing one can't help but notice when listening to this album is how well the band plays together as a unit. They are amazingly tight, so tight that at times their communication seems almost telepathic. Of the ten songs on this album, six were written by Lewis and the remaining four were written by Duvall. Often times when a band releases an album of all originals, the weakest component of the album is the songs. I'm happy to say that's not the case on this album. While I wouldn't predict that any of these songs will become jazz standards, they are all fine compositions. The tunes are sophisticated without being overly complex, melodic without being too "smooth" and they swing like crazy.

While this band is co-led by the saxophonist and the bassist, it's clearly a 'sax' driven album. That works quite well, as Lewis has a beautifully round, smoky tone that can take on a bit of edge when called for. Whether he's playing a sentimental ballad like "Hush", a New Orleans-styled blues like "Steppin' Out" or snappy swinger like "Esperanca", he knows how to make each song sing. Of course, it would all be for naught without the support of Duvall on bass, Baxter on drums and Bales on piano. Not only are they excellent rhythm players, they are all great soloists in their own right.

Overall, this is a fantastic album, well played and well produced. I highly recommend it.

Double Bassist, Summer 2002 review

Double Bassist, summer 2002

Here is some creative writing and fine playing from a high-class American quartet. There are no standards on this recording - instead, the two leaders share compositional duties very successfully. The material contains a good balance of tempos and time signatures: three, four and seven. Many of the pieces are in minor keys and there is a prevailing melancholy throughout much of the album. But there are also uplifting moments, especially in the faster tunes.

The composers are joined in the playing department by two sensitive sidement: pianist Bill Anschell and drummer Quentin Baxter. All participants improvise well and accompany each other sensitively. There is a secure group geel and a spacious, modern but mellow mood to the disc.

Robert Lewis has a fluid saxophone sound with some of the vulnerability and charm of Charlie Rouse. Frank Duvall is a fine double bassist with a pleasant but not- in your face sound. He is a subltle and accomplished soloist with a strong rhythmical sense and a versitile technique.

The effect of this charming album is rather seductive - perhaps a good choice for a ValentineÍs day gift or a birthday present for your beloved.

Malcolm Creese

Michael Bettine - JazzNow

Robert Lewis/Frank Duvall

Robert Lewis, tenor and soprano sax; Frank Duvall, bass; Bill Anschell, piano; Quentin Baxter, drums.

This is a refreshing disc. Within the standard quartet format, these veteran musicians deliver a spirited performance. Opening with "Finders Keepers," there is an energy that moves things along. The rhythm section of Duvall and Baxter is taught and assured. Lewis solos on tenor with a nice sense of melodic detail, as does pianist Anschell. Both are confident and lyrical soloists. "Limestone" is a rock tune with Duvall anchoring things nicely while Baxter embellishes with cymbals in the intro. Lewis has an ease about his sax playing with his notes almost floating in the air. Baxter opens up during Anschell's solo and things cook. It's evident that they are as great of listeners as they are players.

Even on a ballad like "The Gift," they keep their energy as the tune dances along. "Lonely Journey" is slow paced and measured. Duvall's bass, reminiscent of the great Charlie Haden, is full bodied and lyrical as he solos over a sparse drum part. "The Gloaming" is in seven, yet never feels "odd." Lewis solos on soprano with a full tone. He avoids that nasally overblown sound that so many players seem to favor. The up tempo "Swagger" lets Anschell shine in an opening solo. He leaves space between the notes, letting the music breathe. Judging by this CD, some great things are happening in South Carolina.

by Michael Bettine

Jack McCray-Post and Courier

"Variations on local jazz cd"

A new CD produced by Robert Lewis and Frank Duvall is an excellent recording; an exemplar of a vibrant Lowcountry jazz scene. For such a small market, the Lowcountry has a terrific cadre of musicians in the area, and their prowess on the bandstand is as good as anyone playing anywhere else. Locally though, not much comes out of the studio. There are excellent demos recorded every now and then and concerts captured sometimes, but little of it is widely distributed in the commercial markets. So, Lewis' and Duvall's "Fearless Jones" is welcome.

Saxophonist Lewis and bassist Duvall are ably supported on the project by the ubiquitous Quentin Baxter on drums and pianist Kevin Bales, who comes here from Florida occasionally to work the Charleston scene. There are 10 tracks of original music, six by Lewis and four by Duvall.

It's as much an exploration of rhythm as it is one of melody, although the melodic lines in the tunes are well conceived and delivered with skill and style. There are subtle time changes in almost every track as Duvall, Baxter and Bales move deftly from one meter to another; and they change tempo in fun and interesting ways that gives the album a nice pace.

Lewis uses mostly bop techniques to express himself as the melody maker on this recording and on his performances around town. Duvall, who has a nice sense of time, anchors the whole thing as it lopes along. He's rock-steady here, especially on the up-tempo stuff. He leads a band that has a long-standing gig, which includes Lewis, at the Charleston Grill. The music on "Fearless Jones" is pleasant enough. The overall feel is one of swinging introspection, but it doesn't brood. The musicians employ a light touch that serves to make their art accessible and not too difficult to follow, but there's plenty of depth.

On a tune called "Steppin' Out," there's even some good old funk. The ballads "Hush" and "First Day Back" are gorgeous. Baxter's brushes, Bales effortless musings and Duvall's plush pizzicato are like a carpet with footprints made by Lewis' bop figures.

"Fearless" is, in fact, a multi-media project. One of its nicer touches is the cover art by the highly regarded Michael Tyzack, an abstract artist who heads the studio art department at the College of Charleston. All of the players have ties to C of C's talent-rich School of the Arts. Lewis heads the jazz studies department.

Tyzack, also a hot trumpet player with his own band, has a rendering of a piece called "Introspection" on the front and "Ruby, My Dear" graces the back. They're like Thelonious Monk compositions. The neat, minimalist, color-contrasted images of four-sided figures that appear to be lying atop one another subtly, but definitely, bend your perception. The viewer is never really sure, even after prolonged gazing, which angles go with which of the geometric figures - the way Monk harmoniously varied themes.

Variations abound in "Fearless Jones." review 8/16/02

Downbeat Magazine's 1998 "db" award for Best Jazz Soloist went to tenor and soprano saxophonist Robert Lewis, a much sought-after solo artist and clinician around the Southern Region of the USA. His debut CD SWAGGER, includes five original compositions inspired by his diverse experiences as an educator alongside four originals written by co-leader Frank Duvall, one of the most respected acoustic bassists in South Carolina. Lewis, who also heads the Jazz Program at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, is also joined by the former musical director for Nnenna Freelon, Bill Anschell on piano and Quentin Baxter on drums.

The set opens with "Finders Keepers", a tune Lewis wrote while practicing saxophone lines over Coltrane's "Giant Steps" changes. Lewis added a modulation, stellar improvisations, and a few stop-times - giving the tune a fresh perspective. The title track finds the quartet burning on this bebop number that features an excellent piano solo from Anschell and stellar sax ideas from Lewis. Baxter offers his interpretation of rhythm logic with an outstanding drum solo.

Overall, this program reflects a variety of jazz styles - bebop, swing and jazz waltz - that takes the listener through a diverse array of musical feelings.

Cadence, February 2002

Cadence, February 2002

Websters New Collegiate Dictionary initially defines swagger as "to conduct oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner." After listening to a few of these warm, swinging, joyful numbers, I decided that a definition that appears later, "self-confident, elegant," must have been more in tune with what Robert Lewis and Frank Duvall had in mind.

"Finders Keepers," a hip reworking of the always fresh, always challenging Coltrane milestone "Giant Steps," opens the set quite nicely with a strong melody, hip chord substitutions, hot solos and tight rapport among the players.

"Skating" is a nostalgic soundtrack to a winter day at the pone in three-quarter time. Tighten up your laces and join Linus and Lucy on the ice!

On "Cooter Point," the obligatory line on "I Got Rhythm," Lewis plays a strong rhythmic horn solo, but pianist Bill Anschell steals the show with ominous, thunderbolt chords at the beginning of his solo that give way to some articulate boppin' blues based lines. Composer Duvall also contributes from his bass.

Compositionally speaking, "High Humidity" is the high point of a recording consisting entirely of solid original compositions. Everybody shines on this spritely number, with drummer Quentin Baxter swinging hard in accompaniment and solo turns.

"The Gloaming" is a pensive, modern ballad with a subtle Latin beat and free flowing harmony.

"Swagger" is a hip tense up-tempo burner and is a very impressive closer on a very impressive recording.

Jim Josselyn

phone: (843) 819-6570