Remembering Ramsey Lewis
Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis died on Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 87.
In a career that spanned over 50 years, pianist Ramsey Lewis entertained jazz fans with a wide canvass of musical colors that has crossed over into pop and R&B, and even classical music.
Lewis was a three-time Grammy winner and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, an accomplished performer, composer, pianist, and jazz and television radio personality. Lewis had dozens of albums to his credit and was well known for his mid 1960s musical successes. Lewis earned his first gold record, as well as a Grammy award for Best Jazz Performance, for his version of Dobie Gray’s hit “The In Crowd.” He also soared to top of the pop charts in 1966 with versions of “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.”
The 1970s saw Lewis electrifying his sound on records such as Funky Serenity where he covered hits of the day as well as exploring the frontiers of jazz on a tune entitled "Dreams". On this tune Lewis and his trio create a sonic canvas which resembles the cosmic and contemplative jazz of the time, similar to the recordings of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock in the early 1970s.
Ramsey Lewis’ 1974 hit album was entitled Sun Goddess, in which Lewis further experimented with electronic keyboards and featured Earth, Wind & Fire on the album and on the title track.
In his legendary career, Ramsey Lewis also recorded with countless artists to create innovative & memorable music, including Nancy Wilson, London’s Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Billy Taylor, Grover Washington, Jr., Earl Klugh, and Dave Koz to name a few.
Ramsey Lewis was also known for hosting "Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis", a syndicated radio show and a 13-episode companion television series that was broadcast on PBS and featured live performances by jazz artists including including Larry Gray, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joey Defrancesco, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Pat Metheny and Tony Bennett.
For more information you may visit www.ramseylewis.com
KIOS Jazz host Chris Cooke interviewed Ramsey Lewis in 2015 to promote his concert in Omaha with special guest vocalist and percussionist Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire . Click on the button to listen to the interview (Recording engineer: Mike Hansen).