by Phillip Woolever
Back in 1995, an executive named Carl Griffin at Ramsey Lewis' record label reportedly conceived the idea of forming a jazz super group" around the well-established Chicago pianist. The resulting all-star project, deemed Urban Knights, featured Grover Washington Jr. and a rhythm section with Omar Hakim and bassist Victor Bailey, who'd worked together in the early '80s lineup of Weather Report. On five subsequent albums over the next quarter century, a rotating Urban Knights cast has showcased famous players and ...read more
by Jacob Blickenstaff
Some jazz aficionados might characterize pianist Ramsey Lewis' music as a gateway into more serious jazz, as if popular Lewis albums like The In Crowd (Verve, 1965) were meant to lead novice listeners to saxophonist Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come(Atlantic, 1959). But Lewis' commercial successes should not be viewed as a liability to his legacy in jazz history. Just as Coleman did, Lewis has done what only a few great musicians of his generation have done: he's ...read more
by Tom Greenland
Whether considering his style jazzy pop or popular jazz, Chicagoan Ramsey Lewis has always kept one foot firmly in the jazz mainstream, often tapping to a gospel beat. Here the pianist has recorded an all-original set that will satisfy both audiences by mixing classical elegance with blues preaching. Backed by veteran colleagues, bassist Larry Gray's technical prowess and drummer Leon Joyce's exuberant beats perfectly complement their leader's serene composure.
Culling tunes he wrote for the ballet To Know Her..., and ...read more
by Greg Thomas
Jazz is virtually nonexistent on network television. Pianist and broadcaster Ramsey Lewis has addressed this vacuum with the PBS program Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. This Showcase CD/DVD set serves as a sampler of performances from the series. The end result is a patchwork of genres. Benny Golson captivates on the classic Killer Joe ; Clark Terry's Mumbles is hilarious. Seeing Ivan Lins perform his Brazilian hit The Island is moving. Solo piano pieces by Chick ...read more
by Jim Santella
Providing highlights from Legends of Jazz, this Showcase serves as a great introduction to the 2006 PBS television series. This CD/DVD package captures quite a few of the musical performances from the thirteen half-hour episodes, apparently selecting the best parts.
The CD features Al Jarreau and Kurt Elling improvising on Take Five in a spontaneous setting. Chris Botti interprets My Funny Valentine with his heart worn on his shirtsleeve. Marcus Miller, George Duke and Lee Ritenour plow through ...read more
by Jim Santella
Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis Season One Public Broadcasting Service 2006
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 ...read more
by AAJ Staff
Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis A PBS television series LRSmedia & WTTW National Productions 2005
Here's cause for great celebration: for the first time in forty years, a American national network will air a weekly program devoted to jazz. Quite naturally, it's going to be on public television; expect an opening one-hour special and thirteen subsequent half-hour episodes, all hosted by Ramsey Lewis and featuring different musical guests in performance and ...read more