Q+A with the Vail Jazz Workshop Instructors: Lewis Nash

By Vail Jazz

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Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Lewis developed an early interest in music and began playing drums at age 10. By age 18, he was performing with local jazz groups. Hitting 21, Nash had become the “first call” jazz drummer in Phoenix, working with Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Red Garland, Lee Konitz, Barey Kessell, and Slide Hampton during their engagements in the city. In 1981, Nash moved to New York City where he joined the trio of the great jazz vocalist Betty Carter. For nearly four years, he toured internationally with Ms. Carter. He is featured on three of her recordings, including the Grammy winning “Look What I got.”

His impressive discography (over 300 recordings) includes projects with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Hank Jones and John Lewis, as well as new jazz stars Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. In fact, Nash was labeled the “Jazz’s Most Valuable Player” in the drumming world by Modern Drummer Magazine.

On Saturday September 5, Lewis will present a special multimedia tribute at this year’s Vail Jazz Party to his own drum influences, including Art Blakey, “Philly Joe” Jones, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, and Jimmy Cobb. Lewis, in great demand for his mastery of virtually all drumming styles, is the perfect host for exploring past drum masters. Buy tickets here. {Saturday Evening Session}



What is the best aspect of the Vail Jazz Festival? 

The Vail Jazz Festival is participant friendly. The “icing on the cake,” is that the audiences for the Vail Jazz Festival are some of the most enthusiastic and appreciative to be found anywhere!

What is the most memorable comment you’ve received from a fan?

A Vail fan once approached me after a performance and said, “I never liked drum solos before hearing you play!”

What is your favorite on-stage or pre-gig beverage?

Fresh, cool water. Sometimes a protein shake.

What’s your favorite post-gig meal?

I like pasta or rice dishes since I burn a lot of calories when I play.

What is the most striking venue you have ever performed at?

A bullfighting ring in Spain, a castle in France, a coliseum in Greece, at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, an opera house in the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil, a cave in Italy, ruins near Beirut, Lebanon.




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Stay tuned for next week’s “Q+A with: Dick Oatts”!

This article is part of a 6-part series highlighting the Vail Jazz Workshop instructors, who comprise the Vail Jazz Party House Band. In it’s 20th year, the Vail Jazz Workshop recruits 12 of the nation’s most talented teenage jazz musicians who travel to Vail for a week of intensive, two-to-one learning with the instructors. The students refine their skills, learn the art of playing by ear and most importantly, come to own and hone their special talents. Thanks to their Vail Jazz mentors, nearly all of the students have gone on to become professional musicians.