Ramsey Lewis: Opening Jazz To All


In 1965, Chicago jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis had a hit record, "The In Crowd" by The Ramsey Lewis Trio, featuring drummer Redd Holt and bassist Eldee Young. Since that time, Lewis has recorded more than 80 albums, and he's hosted the popular Legends of Jazz radio and television series. Now, at 74, Lewis is reveling in his relatively new career as a composer.

Ramsey Lewis

Ramsey Lewis. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

In 2006, Lewis was asked to write a score for the Joffrey Ballet. This, as he tells Jazz24 music director Nick Francis in this interview, was his first serious attempt at composing. The process served as enough of an inspiration to spur Lewis to make his first new trio recording in five years. However, even though he's opened new creative doors for himself, he says it hasn't changed his views on how to present jazz in ways that will attract larger audiences.

Along with this interesting conversation, Ramsey Lewis also plays three beautiful solo piano pieces, including the ballet-inspired "Clouds in Reverie" off his new CD (Songs From the Heart) and two songs he's never recorded, "In the Still of the Night" and a beautiful impromptu version of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Here There and Everywhere."

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