Ramsey Lewis

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Ramsey Lewis
By Nobu Sakagami
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Ramsey Lewis and Eddie Palmieri
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Pictured (left to righ; Paquito D'Rivera, Jon Hendricks, James Moody, Nancy Wilson, George Wein, teen jazz-vocalist Renee Olstead and host Ramsey Lewis during the taping of a one-hour special edition of the forthcoming PBS TV series Legends of Jazz. Slate
By Nobu Sakagami
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Ramsey Lewis and Nancy Wilson
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Ramsey Lewis at home
By Paul Natkin
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Russ Freeman, Ramsey Lewis and Stanley Turrentine backstage at the Billboard BET on Jazz Awards Show in 2000
By Jeffrey Kliman
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Ramsey Lewis performing Proclamation of Hope in 2009
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Ramsey Lewis performing Proclamation of Hope in 2009
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Ramsey Lewis performing Proclamation of Hope in 2009
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Ramsey Lewis performing Proclamation of Hope in 2009
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Ramsey Lewis performing Proclamation of Hope in 2009
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Ramsey Lewis and Larry Rosen

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A fixture in the jazz world since the mid-1950s, Ramsey Lewis throughout his career has balanced melodic straightahead jazz with pop-oriented music, creating an accessible and impressive body of work. Born in 1935 in Chicago, he began on the piano when he was 4. At 15, he became a member of a jazz septet, the Cleffs, a group that included bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac “Redd” Holt. In 1956 with Young and Holt, the Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded their first album. Recording regularly with Argo/Cadet from 1958, the Ramsey Lewis Trio in their early days mostly played bop-oriented jazz that was swinging, soulful and melodic. Lewis also recorded albums with Max Roach and Lem Winchester in 1958. A popular attraction in Chicago, the Ramsey Lewis Trio hit paydirt in 1965 with their albums The In Crowd and Hang On, having hit singles with “The In Crowd,” “Hang on Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water.” From that point on, Lewis concentrated more on pop material.

In 1966 his sidemen left to form the briefly popular Young-Holt Unlimited; they were replaced by bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White (later the founder of Earth, Wind & Fire). By the early 1970s, Lewis was playing electric piano more than acoustic and his albums tended to be orchestral and tightly produced, including the hit Sun Goddess. By the latter part of the decade, Lewis was mostly heard on acoustic piano again, often utilizing an additional keyboardist. While the hits stopped in the 1980s, Ramsey Lewis has retained his popularity. He has been active on radio (WNUA), is artistic director of Jazz at Ravinia, and had success during his one season of hosting The Legends of Jazz, a groundbreaking if short-lived PBS television series. His playing has gotten stronger through the years and Ramsey Lewis, whether playing his hits, a stirring medley of gospel melodies, displaying his roots in classical music or digging into the blues, is still one of the giants.

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Articles on Ramsey Lewis

11/15/12    Concerts    By Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.

Ramsey Lewis in Cape May, NJ, 11-10-12

02/03/12    Albums    By Bill Milkowski

Ramsey, Taking Another Look
Ramsey Lewis

10/26/10    News    By Lee Mergner

Ramsey Lewis’ Proclamation of Hope Honors Lincoln’s Legacy

07/05/10    Concerts    By Karen Brundage-Johnson, PhD.

Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at Saratoga Springs

03/24/10    News    By Lee Mergner

Kennedy Center Announces 2010-2011 Season of Jazz Concerts & Events

December 2009    Albums    By Michael J. West

Ramsey Lewis Songs From the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey

December 2009    Albums    By Michael J. West

Ramsey Lewis Songs From the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey

03/26/09    News    By Jeff Tamarkin

Jazz Roots Series Returns to Miami

May 2006    The Gig    By Nate Chinen

Touch That Dial

January/February 2006    Features    By

Year in Review: Highs & Lows

12/05/05    Concerts    By Janine Coveney

Cayman Jazz Fest 2006

December 2005    Albums    By Brian Soergel

With One Voice
Ramsey Lewis

December 2005    Albums    By Brian Soergel

With One Voice
Ramsey Lewis

06/14/05    Concerts    By Chris Walker

Playboy Jazz Festival 2005

October 2004    Currents    By Lucy Tauss

Time Flies
Ramsey Lewis Trio

October 2004    Currents    By Lucy Tauss

Time Flies
Ramsey Lewis Trio

May 2004    Currents    By Lucy Tauss

The Love Project
Various Artists

October 2003    Vox    By Christopher Loudon

Simple Pleasures
Ramsey Lewis/Nancy Wilson

June 2002    Currents    By Hilarie Grey

Urban Knights Presents: The Chicago Project
Chicago Project

May 2002    At Home    By Russell Carlson

Ramsey Lewis

May 2002    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Meant To Be
Ramsey Lewis/Nancy Wilson

June 2000    Currents    By Hilarie Grey

Urban Knights III
Ramsey Lewis

January/February 2000    Currents    By Hilarie Grey

Appassionata
Ramsey Lewis

December 1998    Albums    By Harvey Pekar

In Person 1960-1967
Ramsey Lewis

November 1998    Albums    By Patricia Myers

Dance of the Soul
Ramsey Lewis

Albums

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Dance of the Soul

GRP
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In Person 1960-1967

Chess Records
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Appassionata

Narada Media
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Urban Knights III

Narada Media
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Meant To Be

Narada Media
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Simple Pleasures

Narada Media
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Time Flies

Narada Media

Sound of Christmas

Verve

Love Songs

Columbia Jazz
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With One Voice

Narada Media
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The Love Project

Narada Media
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Urban Knights Presents: The Chicago Project

Narada Media
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Songs From the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey

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