Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pianist Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, born may 27th, 1935, Chicago, Illinois, started playing piano at the age of six. He graduated from school in 1948, after winning both the American Legion Award as an outstanding scholar and a special award for piano services at the Edward Jenner Elementary School. He began his career as an accompanist at the Zion Hill Baptist Church, an experience of gospel that never left him. In 1956, he formed a jazz trio with the Clefs' rhythm section (whom he had known since high school) - bass player Eldee Young and drummer Redd Holt.
Lewis made his debut recordings with the Argo record label, which later became Chess Records. In 1964, "Something You Got" was a minor hit, but it was "The In Crowd", an instrumental cover version of Dobie Gray's hit, that made him famous, reaching number 5 in the US charts and selling over a million copies by the end of 1965.
His follow-up, "Hang On Sloopy", reached number 11 and sold another million. These hits set the agenda for his career. Earnings for club dates increased tenfold. His classic "Wade In The Water" was a major hit in 1966, and became a long-standing encore number for Graham Bond. Lewis had an astute ear for hip, commercial sounds: his replacement drummer Maurice White left in 1971 to found the platinum mega-sellers Earth, Wind And Fire.
His album success was a remarkable achievement, with over 30 of his albums making the Billboard Top 200 listings. By the 80s he was producing middle-of-the-road instrumental albums and accompanying singers, most notably Nancy Wilson. In the late 90s he was involved with the Urban Knights, a trilogy of releases with Grover Washington Jnr. and Omar Hakim. Nevertheless, it is his 60s hits - simple, infectious and funky - that will long endure.

Click to enjoy Ramsey Lewis on piano performing "Hang on Snoopy"

Bossa Nova - 1962 (Argo)
Maiden Voyage - 1968 (Cadet)
Mother Nature's Son - 1969 (Cadet)
Another Voyage - 1969 (Cadet)
Ramsey Lewis: The Piano Player - 1970 (Cadet)
Them Changes - 1970 (Cadet)
Back To The Roots - 1971 (Cadet)
Upendo Ni Pamoja - 1972 (Columbia)
Funky Serenity - 1973 (Columbia)
Sun Goddess - 1974 (Columbia)
Don't It Feel Good - 1975 (Columbia)
Salongo - 1976 (Columbia)
Love Notes - 1977 (Columbia)
Tequila Mockingbird - 1977 (Columbia)
Legacy - 1978 (Columbia)
Routes - 1980 (Columbia)
Three Piece Suite - 1981 (Columbia)
Live At The Savoy - 1982 (Columbia)
Chance Encounter - 1983 (Columbia)
The Two Of Us - 1984 (Columbia)
Reunion - 1984 (Columbia)
Keys To The City - 1987 (Columbia)
Classic Encounter - 1988 (Columbia)
We Meet Again - 1989 (Columbia)
Urban Renewal - 1989 (Columbia)
Electric Collection - 1991 (Columbia)
Ivory Pyramid - 1992 (GRP)
Between The Keys - 1996 (GRP)
Dance Of the Soul - 1998 (GRP)
Appassionata - 1999 (Narada)
Meant To Be - 2002 (Narada)
Simple Pleasures - 2003 (Narada)
Time Flies - 2004 (Narada)
With One Voice - 2005 (Narada)
Reference - Wikipédia

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