This week Smoothmixes 925 shines the spotlight on keyboardist, Ramsey Lewis. His musical contribution in jazz is unchallenging, for he is one of the true pioneers of contemporary and smooth jazz.
It all began with his debut release, Ramsey Lewis and his Gentlemen of Swing (1956) to make mention, a true jazz offering for the true jazz purist. Leading to his ever popular, infectious “Sun Goddess”, which Maurice White (Earth Wind & Fire) co-produced, to his latest release, “Take Another Look” in 2011. Ramsey Lewis, a Chicago native, has acquired three Grammy awards, seven gold records and 80 albums to his credit. He is also a noted radio personality, which still makes him one of the most sought after performers as a contemporary jazz pianist to date!
One of his many jazz hits, that he is especially noted for is, “The In Crowd.” After enjoying success with that release, he further went to explore pop music. A jazz group “Young-Holt Unlimited” was formed, with Lewis playing all the keyboards and writing for the group. For unknown reasons, Ramsey later left the group. Afterwards, “Young-Holt Unlimited” released a smash hit- “Soulful Strut”. To Lewis’ credit, “Hang on Snoopy”, “Wade In The Water”, “The In Crowd” has earned him three gold discs, and has sold millions of records. Ramsey Lewis mostly played the electric piano, but he would later find himself using the acoustic piano as his signature instrument when recording and performing. His music attracted all music listeners, not just those of the contemporary jazz format.
In the mid 1990’s, Ramsey Lewis delved into the radio world by hosting a morning show, to include a syndicated radio program (Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis) heard across the country. You can still find him performing at some noted jazz venues around Chicago, such as: The Jazz Ravinia in Chicago. He is also on the Board of Trustees for the Merit School of Music. Ramsey Lewis is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
You can also explore the music of Ramsey Lewis and more by visiting www.smoothmixes925.