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Var Music Presents: Three. Stacks. Eliot w/ Lex Allen @ Var Gallery & Studios

  • Var Gallery & Studios 643 S 2nd St Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53204 (map)


On the surface, jazz and hip-hop don’t seem to have much in common. The wildly improvisational spirit of jazz and the lyrical flow and beat-oriented nature of hip-hop can seem miles apart. Beneath the superficial disparities, however, there is a shared territory that one Milwaukee group is exploring.
Three. Stacks. Eliot is an instrumental collective that plays a brand of jazz fusion heavily indebted to hip-hop. Drummer Samuel Kacala, who performs under the stage name Samuel Lewis, said that the group’s sound arose out of a desire to combine the two genres in a way that would appeal to lovers of both. Using keyboards, drums, electric bass and synths, Three. Stacks. Eliot interprets the inventive nature of jazz in a beat-oriented way that lends itself to rapping.
Working with both jazz and hip-hop has been a natural process, according to Kacala, who names hip-hop producer Flying Lotus and jazz trio BadBadNotGood as influences. He hopes that by offering fans of hip-hop and jazz a new way into the music he can promote both genres to a wider audience. In addition, he wanted to combat what he sees as a stigma surrounding jazz.


Milwaukee native Lex Allen, is reinventing old soul for a new generation, with his own sound that has been dubbed Soul Pop with a kick. He has been compared to new aged singers John Legend & Justin Timberlake, with the articulation of indie powerhouse Jason Mraz. He delivers the writing ability and vocal stylings of a young Bob Dylan, with a smooth delivery reminiscent of a Motown great, Marvin Gaye. Conventional is not a word in his repertoire, just when you think you have him figured out, he’ll switch it up and have your musical ears perking and wanting more. “Dare to be different” is the motto he lives by through and through, its evident in his enlightened lyrical style thats way beyond his years.

Growing up in a very segregated city, with a family of 10 siblings, Lex wanted to find a way to stand out, bridge the gap and escape the future predestined by society; a musical outlet seemed to be the only way. Immersed in the art of lyrical writing, he realized how easy it was for him to emote and connect with a wide range of people, from young to old, black to white, gay to straight. Leaving no room for hidden feelings. He lays it all out on the page, delivering a message of self-awareness, empowerment, and edginess.

He gives you no sugar, no additives, just raw emotion.