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A legendary jazzman plays at the Blue Heron
Vashon Allied Arts’ 2010 Panache Jazz Series will kick off this weekend with a concert by the Mark Lewis Quartet.
The concert — which organizers promise will bring the “legendary jazz spirit of New York City’s Village Vanguard” to Vashon, is set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Blue Heron.
Mark Lewis, a Northwest native, is internationally revered as a masterful player of alto sax, baritone sax, flute and piano.
He is the author of more than a thousand compositions, and he has recorded and produced more than 20 albums.
From straight-ahead jazz to complex improvisations, Lewis’ music is influenced by bop, blues, classical and ethnic stylings.
His career high notes have spanned positions in almost every niche of the music business, including work as an instrumentalist, composer, producer, engineer and teacher.
Along the way, Lewis has recorded and performed with many well-known musicians, including pianists Mark Levine and Ted Gioia, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and trumpet player Randy Brecker.
He has played many music festivals and opened for Carmen McRae at the Palo Alto Jazz Festival.
But despite his far-flung travels in the music world, Lewis has a Vashon connection — his grandparents were from the Island, and Lewis even taught music at the Blue Heron in the early 1980s.
As a child, Lewis played his grandfather’s C melody sax and his uncle’s alto sax and studied with such notable teachers as Gary Peacock and Americole Biasini.
By 1978, Lewis had moved to Amsterdam, taking along little except his alto saxophone and $500. He thrived in Europe — Rotterdam became his home base — and Lewis toured with Europe’s finest musicians.
He established his record company, Audio Daddio, which includes artists such as Art Foxall, Vonne Griffin, Al Hood, Art Lande and David Friesen.
Lewis’ most recent CD, “Worlds Apart,” offers original compositions and improvisations that artfully combine his soulful alto sax and flute with his own keyboard accompaniment.
During Saturday’s show, Lewis will collaborate with an impressive group of regional players, including pianist George Radebaugh, bass player Steve Luceno and drummer Bob Merrihew.
Tickets for the show, $15 to $17, are available at Books by the Way, Heron’s Nest, Blue Heron and brownpapertickets.com. They can also be purchased by phone at 463-5131.
Tickets for the evening include champagne and a spread of desserts.