Pianist Lewis Porter headlines a veteran all-star trio this Thursday night at Scullers Jazz Club. Joined by Grammy award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist John Patitucci, Porter is premiering his new album Beauty and Mystery to be released on the Altrisuoni label this week. Joining the trio is saxophonist and Berklee professor Tia Fuller.
Porter’s own academic career is world-renowned: in addition to the definitive biography of John Coltrane, the long-time director of the Rutgers Newark jazz studies program (now teaching at the New School) has been at the vanguard of jazz research and pedagogy for decades. (I am fortunate to call Porter a close mentor and friend, having completed the Rutgers master’s program in 2007.) On Beauty and Mystery, though, Porter stretches out from the piano bench, showcasing his skills as a composer and improviser.
Porter translates his work on Coltrane in three of the album’s compositions — “Birthplace,” “Blues for Trane and McCoy,” and “From Giovanni to Jimmy” — while “Dazzling Raga” references his long-time project fusing jazz and North Indian ragas in collaboration with Boston-based saxophonist Phil Scarff. The album’s title is derived from a quote by Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” This top-notch ensemble will not disappoint, navigating Porter’s compositions—as well as a few well-known standards—with empathy, inventiveness, and virtuosity. (Although saxophonist Fuller is featured on only a few tracks on the album, she will play the entire show at Scullers.)
Thursday night’s performance provides Boston audiences a rare opportunity to hear some of the most important voices in jazz today. (Aside from their performance careers, the advocacy work Fuller and Carrington are carrying out on behalf of female and LGBTQ jazz musicians is urgently needed and finally opening the ears, eyes, and minds of the jazz world.) Adding an expanding discography and increasingly high-profile performance schedule to his academic career, on Beauty and Mystery Porter is continuing to assert his place as an influential pianistic voice in this current moment.
Tickets for the performance are $35 (with a dinner option) and available at the door and in advance online at this link. As always, students with a valid ID receive a 50% discount at the door.