I have covered a number of start-up companies in my day as I offer my somewhat frank opinion, insight and candid perspective in my quest for new products and services or "shiny objects" as I like to call them. Two weekends ago, I got a chance to take another look at a different kind of start-up, one that goes by the name of ELEW (or ELEWW on Twitter). ELEW is powered by the thunderous energy of jazz pianist Eric Lewis as he has been innovating on jazz as we know it. Eric Lewis has created a new niche which takes alternative rock hits and brings them to the piano. But what makes Eric unique is that when he plays these tunes they sound like he is being accompanied by an orchestra.
So why is Eric Lewis so interesting? Eric's approach to jazz is an innovative one that reminds me of a start-up. Eric's disrupts the traditional jazz system in a way that could fuel some heated debates, similar to how start-ups can disrupt the flow of business as usual. Eric has also created a recognizable set-list which helps ensure people can relate to it. This is similar to the way successful startups often have a clear story that is easy to relate to. Eric has carved out a niche that did not previously exist, which reminds me of the way Twitter and other start-ups have created a need that users did not even know they had.
I got a chance to meet Eric Lewis back in January after attending a Jazz Foundation of America event hosted by Jude Law, Danny Glover and Dick Parsons. After grabbing a nightcap with a small group, it was brought to our attention that Eric was a piano player and someone suggested we find a piano and have him play a spontaneous show. So after checking a couple of different venues (keep in mind it is 1 a.m. at this point), we found a piano at the place I started the night, my own hotel at the Sheraton New York. The rest is history as Eric Lewis put on an unbelievable private show for about two hours for this crowd of 15 and I posted a few photos on Flickr and video of them to YouTube and Flixwagon so the evening could be re-lived online forever.
Since that late night private show at my NY hotel, Eric has been continuing to gain steam by playing at the TED Conference and Tribeca Film Festival among others. When Eric visited Washington, D.C. two weeks ago it was no surprise to me to hear that he was playing a show at the White House (below).
I got a chance to see Eric play a couple of shows while he was in DC. First, at HR 57 with his newly assembled band which I was also extremely impressed with which consists of a drummer/trombone player Kevin Cerovich, an electric violinist Matthew Szemela and a bass player Luis Faraklas Trevin.
Second, I got a chance to attend a private solo show at the home of a very well known national news correspondent. Both were amazing shows and I have included some photos and a few videos (above & below).
I expect ELEW to continue his innovative approach to jazz while consistently building his fan base in a grassroots nature. I will enjoy continuing to watch his popularity grow, just like I have watched Facebook, Twitter and others grow up and become mainstream.
*Eric Lewis photo (above) by Jen Consalvo.