The Soul of Jazz - Ramsey Lewis & Dee Dee Bridgewater Live
I've been a fan of Dee Dee Bridgewater for years and was immediately interested when the booking agency we share suggested we do some shows together. I was excited when we initially talked about the collaboration over the phone. I was even more excited after our first rehearsal. Now that we've done some performances together, my excitement about this collaboration is even greater!
LIke the great jazz singers that came before her, Dee Dee considers her voice to be an instrument unto itself. That approach allows her to tap into her tremendous command of jazz vocabulary. Like all great improvisors, she's completely in the moment on stage. She flows at times with the other musicians and leads at others, taking the performance into whatever direction is needed to bring it to a higher musical level. Offstage she's just as delightful, so I'm looking forward to our time in between shows as much as on the bandstand.
This week we begin a three-and-one-half week tour of Europe and the Mediterranean. Once again, I'm thrilled to be working with a new collaborator and friend who's turned out to be even more musically inspiring than I had realized!
A New Jazz Age? Jazz Legend Ramsey Lewis On The Great Gatsby Soundtrack, Hip Hop, And The Future Of Jazz
When I published my debut novel last month -- Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald -- I suddenly found myself included in a trend. This year has seen a new wave of interest in all things Fitzgerald, thanks in large part to filmmaker Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby. Busy at work on Beautiful Fools for the past four years, I understood myself to be mining the tradition of historical fiction, while answering to a monumental era in American literature. In other words, I never saw the trend coming. That's probably true of most trends: they're almost impossible to anticipate; the novels or records or movies that embody them emerge from other sources and deeper traditions, brought together by a strange confluence of factors.
So how widespread is the newly trending "Jazz Age?" Does a renascence of interest in F. Scott Fitzgerald and the era for which he provided the nickname predict a revival in flappers' fashion and a broader embrace of speakeasy culture? And what does all of this mean for that original American music, jazz, so avant-garde in its day that it seemed to many the very source of defiance in the air -- those improvising anthems of rebellion standing against codified forms and strictures as they pulsed the 1920s party against prohibition, puritanism, and obsolete racial and gender codes?
Nearly a hundred years old, jazz is now a deep musical tradition. No one understands that better than Ramsey Lewis, a pioneer in this musical form since the 1950s. Lewis scored major chart hits with funky interpretations of pop songs from "Hang on Sloopy" and (...read more)
Ramsey to Play The City College of New York
Composer, pianist and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis and his Electric Band will perform at The City College of New York’s Aaron Davis Hall for the first time in a special Father’s Day Weekend Celebration 7 p.m. Friday, June 14. Jazz greats Henry Johnson (guitar), Joshua Ramos (bass) and Charles Heath (drums) will join Ramsey in this extraordinary concert.
“A Father’s Day Weekend Celebration with Ramsey Lewis” will take place at Aaron Davis Hall, (...read more)
Ramsey Plays International Jazz Day Concert in Istanbul, Turkey Along with Many Other Jazz Greats!
On April 30th, 2013, Istanbul played host to the International Jazz Day Global Concert, featuring Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Joss Stone, Marcus Miller, John McLaughlin, Terence Blanchard, Ruben Blades, Ramsey Lewis, Hugh Masekela, Eddie Palmieri, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, George Duke, Lee Ritenour, Jean-Luc Ponty, Milton Nascimento, John Beasley, Igor Butman, Anat Cohen, Vinnie Coliauta, Imer Demirer, James Genus, Bilal Karaman, Pedrito Martinez, Keiko Matsui, Terri Lyne Carrington, Hüsnü Şenlendirici, Joe Louis Walker, Ben Williams and others.
Performing with Joss Stone
with Herbie Hancock
with Branford Marsalis and Ruben Blades
with Terence Blanchard
with John McLaughlin and Lee Ritenour
with Marcus Miller
with Al Jarreau
with Wayne Shorter
The concert was broadcast live to celebrate International Jazz Day 2013. Presented by UNESCO, the Republic of Turkey and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
"Ramsey, Taking Another Look" Album
Three-time Grammy®-winning jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, who first rose to prominence in the mid-1960’s, released his 80th collection, Ramsey, Taking Another Look on September 20, 2011. On the stirring 10-song CD, Lewis and his Electric Band breathe new life into many of Lewis’ favorite tunes, including a new rendition of the Stevie Wonder-penned “Living for the City” and a new edit of the original “Sun Goddess” recording featuring Earth, Wind & Fire.
“Living for the City” is accompanied by a music video created at Chicago’s Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, with Film & Broadcast and Recording Arts students taking the lead on production. Featuring an energetic performance by Ramsey Lewis and his Electric Band, the clip celebrates the visual vibrancy of Chicago at night time.
A noted advocate for Steinway pianos, Ramsey, Taking Another Look represents Lewis’ first return to playing the Fender Rhodes piano in fifteen years.
Ramsey Lewis on Ramsey, Taking Another Look:
"When the idea of the electric band came up I had been playing mostly in an acoustic trio format for twelve-fifteen years. So I decided to get together with some hand-picked musicians to see how it felt. The rehearsals went so well that I called my engineer, Danny Leake and my producer/son, Frayne Lewis, to come in and roll tape. Of all the albums, this album takes its place among the top five."
“Not unlike most European Classical music and the Great American Songbook, there are Jazz compositions that deserve reconsideration or repeated interpretation – probably even more so today in Jazz because our interpretations are ‘of the moment,’ therefore we now undoubtedly see things differently than in years past. So in putting together the electric band, I went back and listened to some of the things we had performed during the Sun Goddess period and was interested to see what these new young musicians currently in my band would do with them. I was not at all surprised to hear some innovative ideas on these pieces. I thought it important to include them on the album.”
“Taking Another Look and the Sun Goddess Tour happened almost suddenly. The idea of including electric instruments in performances and on the album started with the suggestion of Rio Natsume in Japan at the Blue Note Tokyo when we were there in October 2010. Almost immediately after I returned home, there was a suggestion from Jack Randall at the Ted Kurland Agency for the same thing. Then after the holidays, I decided to have a jam session/rehearsal with the guys and try it out. The whole thing happened within a span of about 90 days. By no means have I abandoned my love for the nine-foot Steinway Grand – we just now include electric instruments as well.”
The album, like Lewis’ remarkable live performances, continues to generate rave reviews.
Here’s what the critics are saying:
"...Ramsey Lewis’ new album is worth a listen. Ramsey, Taking Another Look (★★★1/2), the smooth Chicago jazzman’s 80th album (!), is billed to Ramsey Lewis & His Electric Band…(the) recording accomplishes more than merely rehashing Lewis’ mildly funky moment, adding new tracks ('To Know Her Is to Love Her' swings ever so lightly with real finesse) to lively revisitations..."
— Chicago Sun-Times
“(An) excellent collection...re-imagined…as fresh as the day they were first recorded…the spellbinding ‘Love Song’ provides a timely reminder of the huge musical legacy that the great Ramsey Lewis has given to contemporary jazz.”
— Smooth Jazz Therapy
A breath of fresh air…(the album) made me fall in love with the man’s music all over again…outstanding jazz from a master of the form."
— The Dirty Lowdown Blogspot
“During an era when the Beatles, Motown, and rock-and-roll dominated the charts, jazz legend Ramsey Lewis earned widespread notoriety by releasing ‘The In Crowd,’ ‘Hang On Sloopy,’ and ‘Wade in the Water,’ singles that each sold more than a million copies—a most unlikely scenario in the 1960s for an acoustic trio. The recordings established the funky, soulful jazz sound that would become a Lewis trademark…(1974’s Sun Goddess) is the focus of his current tour, which has been so successful that Lewis took the band into the studio to record Ramsey, Taking Another Look.” — The Washingtonian
“Infectious, telling, and powerful…a spectacular album…there are legends and icons (Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Coltrane and others). Do you think we can count among the very top of that list someone who has withstood the test of time?” — The Smooth Jazz Ride
“There's a friendly interactive verve between Ramsey and his new band, which includes keyboardist Mike Logan, guitarist Henry Johnson, drummer Charles Heath and percussionist Joshua Ramos. That's best heard on the album's quietly effective version of the Stylistics' ‘Betcha By Golly Wow,’ and the lightly funky ‘Intimacy.’”
— All About Jazz
“After headlining so many albums, it’s truly saying something when Lewis states that 'this album is definitely among the top five.'"
- Contemporary Jazz
“Ramsey has truly showed his expertise style with Ramsey, Taking Another Look.”
— Smooth Jazz Magazine
Sep 22 - San Antonio, TX
Oct 12 - Rockport, MA
Nov 16 - Toronto, Canada
Nov 22 - Los Angeles, CA
Nov 23 - Scottsdale, AZ
Dec 31 - Washington, D.C.