Close your eyes and picture an “endless field”– what comes to mind might be a placid landscape, grass stretching out as far as the eye can see, swaying gently in the wind. Now look up, and another endless field looms overhead – the vast expanse of space, the night sky offering a mere glimpse of its infinite destinations. Think in less literal terms, and the phrase might suggest the never-ending pursuit of the musician or artist – a field of study that can last a lifetime and beyond.
All of those meanings tumble together on the uncategorizable, cinematically beautiful self-titled debut album from Endless Field (out June 23 from Biophilia Records), the duo of longtime collaborators Jesse Lewis and Ike Sturm. Both intimate and expansive, boundless and introspective, the album captures the genre-vaulting imagination and the deftly entwined vision of these two artists and their special guests, drawn from some of the most forward-looking voices in modern music.
Working together in a variety of contexts for more than ten years, guitarist Jesse Lewis and bassist Ike Sturm have evolved a unique approach that can be classified as theirs alone. From the hushed, breathtaking sound of fingers on strings to atmospheric ambient textures and thrilling improvisations, the duo venture through a vast territory of experimentation on Endless Field, both inspired by and suggestive of the diverse beauty of nature.
Hailed as “an articulate ace” (NY Times) and a “poet of the steel string” (Stereophile Magazine), New York City-based guitarist JESSE LEWIS is a first call collaborator with the finest musicians in the world. Known as an extremely versatile and eclectic artist, Lewis’ distinctive sound can be heard on a wide variety of projects crossing the worlds of jazz, world music, pop, and electronica. In 2008 he released Atticus, revisiting the project with the 20-piece Awakening Orchestra on Atticus Live! in 2016. Lewis has performed or recorded with many of the world’s finest creative jazz musicians, including Chris Potter, Nicholas Payton, Ellis Marsalis, Ingrid Jensen, Aaron Parks, Donny McCaslin, Anat Cohen, Chris Speed, Joel Frahm, Jon Irabagon, Louis Bonilla, Bill Goodwin, Dick Oatts, Dave Douglas, and Matt Wilson. His unique and eclectic style has also been utilized by a wide variety of artists outside of the instrumental jazz world, such as Grammy Award-winning R&B sensation Chrisette Michele; African music legends Chiwoniso and Sam Mtukudzi; EDM superstar Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic; and Motown Legends Little Anthony and the Imperials. Lewis has also worked with many legendary jazz vocalists including the New York Voices, Janis Siegel (Manhattan Transfer), and Jo Lawry, whose new album Taking Pictures features Sting.
IKE STURM was raised in a musical home in Wisconsin and has performed with many world-renowned artists, including Gene Bertoncini, Wynton Marsalis, Donny McCaslin, Bobby McFerrin, Ben Monder, Ingrid Jensen, Steve Lehman, Catherine Russell, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler. He has played with the International Contemporary Ensemble and has recorded several Steve Reich releases with Alarm Will Sound on Nonesuch Records. Sturm curates the internationally renowned jazz program at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan. He created and leads Jazz 4 All, a gathering of musicians of different ages, musical styles and faith backgrounds focusing on improvisation. Sturm’s Jazz Mass, a work for voices, strings and jazz ensemble features Ingrid Jensen, Adam Benjamin, Ted Poor and Grammy award-winning saxophonist Donny McCaslin. The album was awarded 4 1/2 stars by Downbeat magazine and was named one of the “Best CDs of 2010.” The large-scale project has been performed with choirs and orchestras throughout the U.S., Norway, Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Sturm’s band, Evergreen, released Shelter of Trees in 2015, dedicated to the memory of his father, composer and arranger Fred Sturm. Renowned music writer Bill Milkowski called the album “undeniably beautiful."