NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis turned 85 on May 27, and tomorrow (May 30) he’s celebrating with a livestream performance from his home, available to audiences worldwide exclusively through the StageIt plaform. But that’s just the beginning; for at least the next four months, Lewis will present a regular solo piano concert via StageIt on the last Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET). He’s calling it the Saturday Salon series.
Two years ago, Lewis announced that he would give up touring, but that doesn’t mean he’s tired of performing for people. “I have played all over the world, but not really,” he acknowledged in a statement. “I’ve played most of the major cities, but not every city in between, and it’s exciting to know that this will be available to every person in the world. And that thought in my mind excites me and makes me want to perform again.”
Lewis gave his first live online performance on April 25 with a concert in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month. Future episodes of Saturday Salon are scheduled for June 27, July 25, August 29, and September 26.
The pianist notes that he has penned new compositions specifically for these performances: “I’m going to be writing new material as well as performing and using material that has never been heard before. I started composing many years ago and I continue to compose now, so there’s music that I have in my composition books that nobody has ever heard. Now there’s a reason to sit down and complete these fragments that I’ve always told myself that I would get to ‘later.’ I think now is the later.”
StageIt performances like Lewis’ require the purchase of a ticket; a portion of the proceeds from each performance will benefit the Jazz Foundation of America, which is currently working to provide assistance to jazz musicians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. To purchase a ticket for the May 30 Saturday Salon, go here. Check ramseylewis.com for future ticket links.
Lewis himself announced the birthday concert in the video below.