Ramsey Lewis: Love Songs (2004)
Sometimes it's a good idea to do a Love Songs compilation. This is one of those times. Ramsey Lewis was signed to Columbia from 1973 to 1991. Of course, during those times, jazz went through many changes, and Lewis was certainly ready for them all. Easily moving from acoustic to electric piano to whatever synths were in fashion, Lewis never lost his charm or musical identity, although "Spiderman" and "Breaker Beat" certainly cut it close.
No worries and no ill-conceived dance tracks here. Love Songs does nothing but find that common, resonant core which is inherent in Lewis' best work. The mid-to-late '70s tunes "Juaacklyn," "Nicole," and "I'll Always Dream about You" all demonstrate Lewis' Fender Rhodes prowess as well as the inimitable styles of producer/arrangers including Maurice White, Charles Stephney and James Mack.
This set also includes the best of Lewis' 1984 collaboration with Nancy Wilson, including "Midnight Rendezvous" and "Two of Us." Oddly enough, given the commercial yet non-compromising work, the "serious" songs from Lewis' 1988 A Classic Encounter might be a tad depressing for some. A few key omissions don't help matters either. It's hard to imagine a Ramsey Lewis Love Songs compilation without essential tracks like his cover of "Betcha by Golly Wow" or 1979's "I Just Can't Give You Up." Love Songs isn't a flawless compilation, but it certainly will remind people of the breadth and varied nature of Lewis' catalogue.
Track Listing: Midnight Rendezvous - (with Nancy Wilson); A Time For Love; Nicole; The Two Of Us - (with Nancy Wilson); With A Gentle Touch; Juaacklyn; Never Wanna Say Goodnight - (with Nancy Wilson); Something About You; So Much More; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart & It Could Happen To You; If Loving You Is Wrong I Don't Want To Be Right; I'll Always Dream About You; Love Song; Please Send Me Someone To Love