Ramsey Lewis has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for over 50 years with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality that has allowed him to crossover to the pop and R&B charts. The Ramsey Lewis Trio, with bassist… (read more)
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Ramsey Lewis has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for over 50 years with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality that has allowed him to crossover to the pop and R&B charts. The Ramsey Lewis Trio, with bassist Eldee Young and percussionist Redd Holt, became a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene, releasing their debut album, Ramsey Lewis & His Gentlemen of Jazz, back in 1956. Lewis earned his first gold record, as well as a Grammy award for Best Jazz Performance, for their swinging version of Dobie Gray’s hit “The In Crowd.” He returned to the pop charts in 1966 with versions of “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.”
After Young and Holt left Lewis’ trio to form their own group, the pianist hired a new rhythm section with Cleveland Eaton on bass and Maurice White on drums. When White left the band to form Earth, Wind & Fire, Morris Jennings signed on as the trio’s new percussionist. White returned to produce Lewis’ 1974 smash album entitled Sun Goddess, in which Lewis first experimented with electronic keyboards and featured Earth, Wind & Fire on the album.
Throughout his illustrious career, Lewis who is a NEA Jazz Master, has also joined forces with countless other artists to create new and innovative music. In 1984, he collaborated with Nancy Wilson on The Two of Us, in 1988 he recorded with London’s Philharmonic Orchestra for the album A Classic Encounter, and in 1989 Lewis and Dr. Billy Taylor cut a set of piano duets in We Meet Again. In 1995, Lewis launched the side project Urban Knights, in which he collaborated with a handful of successful crossover jazz stars, including Grover Washington, Jr., Earl Klugh, and Dave Koz. In 1997, Lewis added disc jockey to his resume, hosting a popular show on Chicago’s WNUA-FM that ran until 2009.
A new show was syndicated in 2006 under the name Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis and was broadcast on jazz radio stations across the country. In 2006, a well-received 13-episode Legends of Jazz television series hosted by Lewis was broadcast by PBS on public TV nationwide and featured live performances by a variety of jazz artists including Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Pat Metheny and Tony Bennett. Lately, Ramsey has been touring with Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind & Fire), John Pizzarelli and Ann Hampton Callaway.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Ramsey just released his latest record Urban Knights VII on the Ropeadope label. Urban Knights is an all-star jazz, R&B and funk band that features Grammy-nominated guitarist Henry Johnson, drummer Charles Heath, bassist Joshua Ramos and keyboardist Tim Gant.
In response to COVID -19 shutting down our concert venues, Ramsey has introduced a digital program available to audiences worldwide. Lewis provides his fans with an exclusive concert experience streaming on the platform, Stageit. The “Saturday Salon” takes place on the last Saturday of every month and features a 60-minute performance at 1:00 PM CT.
Ramsey Lewis Awards:
Three Grammy® Awards
Seven Billboard Gold Records
Smithsonian Institution - personal memorabilia inducted
Grammy® Hall of Fame - Induction of “The In Crowd” jazz single
National Endowment for the Arts - Jazz Masters Award
NAACP Image Award (Outstanding Jazz Artist)
Olympic Torch Runner - Carried the Winter 2002 Olympic Torch during its journey to Salt Lake City
Radio Records Industry Achievement Award 2003
Radio Records - Radio Personality of the Year – 1999 and 2000
NARAS Recording Academy Governor’s Award 2000
White House Performance for President Bill Clinton
Stellar Award Best Gospel Instrumental Album, 'With One Voice'