“Where some see a complicated chart, he hears the music of the spheres. Where some mean to express themselves, he means to express the music.”
— Modern Drummer
“Rhythm Is My Business” is the title of his 1989 debut recording as a bandleader, and legendary drummer Lewis Nash is all about the business of keeping rhythm.
Universally recognized as one of the great drummers in jazz history, his illustrious career now spans over four decades. Nash is one of jazz’s most recorded musicians, appearing on over 500 recordings including 10 Grammy winners and numerous Grammy nominees.
In fact, Nash has the distinction of being the only musician in jazz history featured on the winners in both the “Best Jazz Vocal" and “Best Jazz Instrumental" album categories in two separate years: the 2004 Grammys with Nancy Wilson and McCoy Tyner, and again in 2010 with Dee Dee Bridgewater and James Moody.
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Lewis arrived in New York City in 1981 at the age of 22 and first gained international recognition as a member of vocalist Betty Carter’s trio. This was a pivotal time in his development, as he traveled the world for nearly 4 years with Carter and had the opportunity to meet and engage with many of his musical peers and predecessors. In the years to follow, Nash toured, recorded and performed with many of jazz’s most celebrated icons, and his resume reads like a “who’s who” of jazz royalty. These jazz legends include: Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, JJ Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Tommy Flanagan, Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Gerry Mulligan, Hank Jones, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Heath, Randy Weston, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and many, many more!
In 2012, The Nash, a jazz education center and performance venue named in Lewis’s honor, was established in his home town of Phoenix. It has been a focal point of the city’s jazz activity since it’s inception, and has been named consistently by Downbeat Magazine as a top jazz venue. Jazz masters Randy Weston, Jimmy Cobb and Roy Hargrove played some of the final performances of their careers at The Nash.
Lewis is in great demand for his educational expertise as well as his drumming skills, and presents clinics, masterclasses and workshops at institutions worldwide. He was a member of the very first jazz studies faculty at The Juilliard School in 2001, and has been a member of the faculty of the annual Vail Jazz Workshop for the past 20 years. In 2017, Nash joined the jazz studies faculty at Arizona State University, where he was named the Bob and Gretchen Ravenscroft Professor of Practice in Jazz. In early 2021, the Lewis Nash Scholarship Endowment was created by the university to be awarded annually to a deserving ASU undergraduate or graduate jazz performance student.