Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis: Season One

Jim Santella By

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Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis
Season One
Public Broadcasting Service

Starting on April 3rd, with specific dates and times varying across the country, season one of Legends of Jazz gets going with a bang. The first thirty-minute episode features three great jazz trumpeters who are all quite active on the jazz scene today: Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove and Chris Botti.

Ramsey Lewis hosts each episode with the kind of interview questions that we're all anxious for. Each of his trumpeter guests tells a little about how he got started, and each performs a piece with piano trio. Backed by pianist Willie Pickens, bassist Larry Gray and drummer Leon Joyce, Jr., Terry sings "Mumbles and follows up with a trademark flugelhorn interpretation.

Hargrove offers an up-tempo burner with "Invitation, while Botti simmers slowly with the romantic "My Funny Valentine. At the session's close, the three jam with Lewis on piano for a spontaneous blues while the credits roll. Informative, family-oriented, and casual, the episode is one of those don't-miss opportunities.

The second episode features singers Kurt Elling and Al Jarreau (pictured) in another casual affair that brings you into their world as a member of the jazz family. Both musicians tell how they got started, and both sing something memorable. Jarreau sings "Cold Duck with all the fire and enthusiasm that Eddie Harris originally rained on us, and Elling sings a meandering "She's Funny That Way in his unique style.

They also sing a duet on "Take Five with and without words. Both singers emphasize through their interviews and through their performances that a vocal performance merits substantial value, whether it's done with words or not. Jarreau and Elling are accompanied tastefully by pianist Laurence Hobgood, bassist Rob Amster and drummer/percussionist Ernie Adams.

Lewis is loose, and makes his guests feel quite at ease. He's prepared, and the program moves seamlessly from one interesting point to the next. If the remaining eleven episodes are as great as these first two, then we've got an outstanding season in front of the television this spring.

Thirteen half-hour episodes:

  1. "The Golden Horns with Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove & Chris Botti
  2. "The Jazz Singers with Al Jarreau & Kurt Elling
  3. "The Great Guitars with Pat Metheny & Jim Hall
  4. "Contemporary Jazz with George Duke, Lee Ritenour & Marcus Miller
  5. "The Altos with David Sanborn & Phil Woods
  6. "The Piano Masters with Dave Brubeck & Dr. Billy Taylor
  7. "Roots: The Blues with Robert Cray & Keb' Mo'
  8. "American Songbook with Jane Monheit & John Pizzarelli
  9. "Latin Jazz with Eddie Palmieri & Dave Valentin
  10. "The Tenors with Benny Golson, Chris Potter & Marcus Strickland
  11. "Brazilian Jazz with Oscar Castro-Neves & Ivan Lins
  12. "The Killer Bs with Joey DeFrancesco & Dr. Lonnie Smith
  13. "NEA Jazz Masters 2006 with Tony Bennett, Chick Corea & Ray Barretto

Visit Legends of Jazz and Ramsey Lewis on the web.

Photo Credit
Bill Richert

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