Eric Lewis – Hopscotch – DVD

Eric LewisEric Lewis
Hopscotch – DVD/CD
(Fortress – 2005)
by Ray Redmond

Eric Lewis is a fine young pianist, and his trio pushes a smooth, mainstream sort of groove that’s refreshingly classic. The centerpiece of this DVD/CD release is the man himself in performance. Look out for his ambitious solo on “Cherokee” which Wynton Marsalis says is “what the modern piano is about.” I also liked his cover of Wayne Shorter’s “Pinnochio” and the runs on the classic “Monk”.

The CD is a Wynton Marsalis product (he is listed as author,) and he touts Eric Lewis as being “The Professor”… well I’m not one to argue, and Lewis is indeed a consummate pro and talented to boot! The compositions and performance are fine… listen to the CD or the DVD and you’ll be truly impressed.

It’s the VIEWING part that’s a problem. This is a cheesy production, in my estimation, and only Eric’s great talent saves it from the bin (you know which one.) The song list on the cover indicates that both media contain the 14 tracks shown, but the DVD actually has only the first nine songs listed. The video uses something called ‘virtual lighting’ which seems to have been done by recording the performance with a bluescreen background than overlaying the show (poorly) onto a club-ish background complete with patrons. It is obvious and distracting when the entire background (the club) shifts up and down as a camera operator adjusts his angle. Between songs there are a couple of amateurish hosts that are pretty awful, often looking at the wrong cameras and stilting out some of their lines. Absolutely HORRIBLE!

I agree with Mr. Marsalis: Eric Lewis is a GOOD pianist and should be exposed to more people. So go get the CD, or get the DVD and LISTEN to it so you can experience the quality music. But by all means don’t watch it until AFTER you’ve listened to the music it contains.