Ramsey Lewis

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Ramsey Lewis
Ramsey Lewis October 2009.jpg
Lewis at KPLU in October 2009
Background information
Birth nameRamsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr.
Born(1935-05-27) May 27, 1935 (age 78)
OriginChicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz funk, pop
OccupationsComposer, pianist, radio personality
InstrumentsPiano, keyboards
Years active1956–present
LabelsCadet, Columbia, GRP, Narada, Concord, Hidden Beach Recordings
Associated actsYoung-Holt Unlimited
Websitewww.ramseylewis.com
 
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Ramsey Lewis
Ramsey Lewis October 2009.jpg
Lewis at KPLU in October 2009
Background information
Birth nameRamsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr.
Born(1935-05-27) May 27, 1935 (age 78)
OriginChicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz funk, pop
OccupationsComposer, pianist, radio personality
InstrumentsPiano, keyboards
Years active1956–present
LabelsCadet, Columbia, GRP, Narada, Concord, Hidden Beach Recordings
Associated actsYoung-Holt Unlimited
Websitewww.ramseylewis.com

Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr. (born May 27, 1935) is an American jazz composer, pianist and radio personality. Ramsey Lewis has recorded over 80 albums and has received seven gold records and three Grammy Awards so far in his career.

Biography[edit]

Ramsey Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Ramsey Lewis, Sr. and Pauline Lewis.[1] Lewis began taking piano lessons at the age of four. At 15 he joined his first jazz band, The Cleffs. The seven-piece group provided Lewis his first involvement with jazz; he would later join Cleffs drummer Isaac "Redd" Holt and bassist Eldee Young to form the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Lewis is a graduate of DePaul University.

The trio started as primarily a jazz unit and released their first album, Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen of Swing, in 1956. Following their 1965 hit "The In Crowd" (the single reached No. 5 on the pop charts, and the album No. 2) they concentrated more on pop material. Young and Holt left in 1966 to form Young-Holt Unlimited and were replaced by Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White. White left to form Earth, Wind & Fire was replaced by Morris Jennings in 1970. Later, Frankie Donaldson and Bill Dickens replaced Jennings and Eaton; Felton Crews also appeared on many 1980's releases.

By 1966, Lewis was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with "The In Crowd", "Hang On Sloopy",[2] and "Wade in the Water". All three singles each sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs.[3] Many of his recordings attracted a large non-jazz audience. In the 1970s, Lewis often played electric piano, although by later in the decade he was sticking to acoustic and using an additional keyboardist in his groups.[4]

In 1994, Lewis appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, alongside other prominent jazz artists, Herbie Hancock and Roy Ayers. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.

In addition to recording and performing, Lewis hosts the weekly syndicated radio program Legends of Jazz, created in 1990. He also hosted the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago "smooth jazz" radio station WNUA (95.5 FM). In December 2006, this morning show became part of Broadcast Architecture's Smooth Jazz Network, simulcasting on other smooth jazz stations across the country until its cancellation in May 2009, when WNUA switched over to a Spanish format.[5]

In 2006, a well-received 13-episode Legends of Jazz television series hosted by Lewis was broadcast on public TV nationwide and featured live performances by a variety of jazz artists including Larry Gray, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joey Defrancesco, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Pat Metheny and Tony Bennett.[6]

Lewis performing at JazzFe 2006. Photo by Tomas Forgac

Lewis is artistic director of Jazz at Ravinia (an annual feature at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois) and helped organize Ravinia's Jazz Mentor Program.[7] Ramsey also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Merit School of Music, a Chicago inner-city music program and The Chicago High School for the Arts, the new public arts high school in Chicago. Early in 2005, the Ramsey Lewis Foundation was created to help connect at-risk children to the world of music. As an offshoot of that foundation, Lewis plans to form a Youth Choir and Youth Orchestra. In January 2007, the Dave Brubeck Institute invited Lewis to join its Honorary Board of Friends at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Lewis is an Honorary Board member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. Lewis is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. In May 2008, Lewis received an honorary doctorate from Loyola University Chicago upon delivering the keynote address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony.

Lewis still lives in Chicago, Illinois, the city of his musical roots. He has seven children, fourteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Discography[edit]

Year RecordedAlbumRecord Label
1956Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of SwingArgo
1956Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of JazzArgo
1958Lem Winchester and the Ramsey Lewis TrioArgo
1959Down to EarthEmArcy
1959An Hour with the Ramsey Lewis TrioArgo
1960Stretching OutArgo
1960The Ramsey Lewis Trio in ChicagoArgo
1961More Music from the SoilArgo
1961Never on SundayArgo
1961Sound of ChristmasArgo
1962The Sound of SpringArgo
1962Country Meets the BluesArgo
1962Bossa NovaArgo
1963Pot LuckArgo
1963Barefoot Sunday BluesArgo
1964Bach to the BluesArgo
1964The Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Bohemian CavernsArgo
1964More Sounds of ChristmasArgo
1964-65You Better Believe MeArgo
1965The In CrowdArgo
1965Hang On Ramsey!Cadet
1965Swingin'Cadet
1966Wade in the WaterCadet
1966The Movie AlbumCadet
1966Goin' LatinCadet
1967Dancing in the StreetCadet
1967Up Pops Ramsey LewisCadet
1968Maiden VoyageCadet
1968Mother Nature's SonCadet
1968Ramsey Lewis Live in TokyoCadet
1969Another VoyageCadet
1969The Piano PlayerCadet
1970Them ChangesCadet
1971Back to the RootsCadet
1974Solid IvoryCadet
1972Upendo Ni PamojaColumbia
1973Funky SerenityColumbia
1973Ramsey Lewis' Newly Recorded All-Time Non-Stop Golden HitsColumbia
1974Solar WindColumbia
1974Sun GoddessColumbia
1975Don't It Feel GoodColumbia
1976SalongoColumbia
1977Love NotesColumbia
1977Tequila MockingbirdColumbia
1978LegacyColumbia
1979RamseyColumbia
1980RoutesColumbia
1981Blues for the Night OwlColumbia
1981Three Piece SuiteColumbia
1982Ramsey Lewis Live at the SavoyColumbia
1982Chance EncounterColumbia
1983Les FleursColumbia
1983ReunionColumbia
1984The Two of Us - with Nancy WilsonColumbia
1985FantasyColumbia
1987Keys to the CityColumbia
1988Classic EncounterColumbia
1989We Meet Again - with Billy TaylorColumbia
1989Urban RenewalColumbia
1992Ivory PyramidGRP
1993Sky IslandsGRP
1994Urban Knights IGRP
1996Between the KeysGRP
1997Urban Knights IIGRP
1998Dance of the SoulGRP
1999AppassionataGRP
2000Urban Knights IIIGRP
2001Urban Knights IVNarada
2002Meant to Be - with Nancy WilsonNarada
2003Urban Knights VNarada
2003Simple Pleasures - with Nancy WilsonNarada
2004Time FliesNarada
2005Urban Knights VINarada
2005With One VoiceNarada
2009Songs from the Heart: Ramsey Plays RamseyConcord
2011Taking Another LookHidden Beach
2013A Simple DiscoveryRainmaker Productions

As sideman[edit]

With Max Roach

With Jimmy Woode

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Lewis performs live in the KPLU studio on October 2009

Grammy history[edit]

Ramsey Lewis Grammy Awards History
YearCategoryTitleGenreLabelResult
1965Best Jazz Performance - Small Group or
Soloist with Small Group
"The In Crowd"JazzArgo/ChessWinner
1966Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance -
Vocal or Instrumental
"Hold It Right There"R&BChessWinner
1973Best Rhythm & Blues Instrumental Performance"Hang on Sloopy"R&BMCAWinner

Gold records[edit]

Currently, the normal RIAA certifications for a gold album is 500,000 units.

Gold Records[9]
YearTitleLabel
1965The In CrowdArgo
1966Hang On Ramsey!Cadet
1966Wade in the WaterCadet
1968Sound of ChristmasArgo
1976Sun GoddessColumbia

Recognitions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ramsey Lewis with one voice" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  2. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 50 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 6] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 192, 193 & 207. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ "''Billboard'': Ramsey Lewis". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  5. ^ WNUA Swings to Spanish Format, Chicago Tribune, May 22, 2009
  6. ^ WTTW - Channel 11, Legends of Jazz[dead link]
  7. ^ Ravinia Festival[dead link]
  8. ^ "Grammy Awards Database for Ramsey Lewis". Theenvelope.latimes.com. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  9. ^ "RIAA Certifications". Riaa.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  10. ^ Tony Faillo. "Winter 2002 Olympic Torch". Worldisround.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  11. ^ "NAACP: Ramsey Lewis". Theenvelope.latimes.com. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  12. ^ "Stellar Gospel Music Awards". Thestellarawards.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  13. ^ 2007 NEA Jazz Master[dead link]
  14. ^ "Legendary Landmarks Gala". Landmarks.org. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 

External links[edit]