Pianist/composer Ramsey Lewis brought his Sun Goddess tour with his Electric Band to headline the inaugural Exit 0 International Jazz Festival, a three-day jazz event in Cape May, N.J., that kicked off on Nov. 9 and ran through Nov. 11.
Lewis and his band played on the Main Stage inside the newly renovated Cape May Convention Hall. The festival marked the second time Lewis played in Cape May, after appearing many years ago as a headliner with the original Cape May Jazz Festival. The Main Stage was set up in the style of a 500-seat jazz bistro.
Lewis’ style is largely influenced by his early gospel playing and classical training, along with his fondness of jazz, blues and R&B. Selections included “Betcha By Golly, Wow,” a medley of gospel songs including “Pass Me Not” and “Wade in the Water,” “Go Where I Send Thee,” segueing into “Amazing Grace” and then smoothly moving into “The Negro National Anthem.” For the finale the band performed “Sun Goddess” with the audience joining in.
More than 100 internationally known musicians performed at various venues in Cape May over the weekend, including bassist Christian McBride and his quintet, Inside Straight, Nicholas Payton, Mark Murphy, Claudia Acuna, Pedrito Martinez Captain Black Big Band, Henry Cole’s Afrobeat Collective, Ben Williams and Sound Effect and Antonio Sanchez. As a response to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, the Exit 0 International Jazz Festival donated some proceeds to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
More images from the Ramsey Lewis & Electric Band performance can be found in Ben Johnson’s photo gallery, “The Art of Live Jazz” by clicking here.