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  Ramsey Lewis 
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Ramsey Lewis has enjoyed a long and prosperous career as a popularizer of jazz. His records from the 1960s and 70s, with their elements of pop and r&b, made him an easy and frequent target of critics/purists, but Lewis has always resisted easy categorization, recording in the gospel and classical genres in addition to his signature crossover style.

The Chicago-born pianist was born in 1935 and was playing with a band called The Cleffs as a teenager. They eventually broke up, but Lewis continued working with their bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac Redd Holt as the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Their first album was 1957’s Ramsey Lewis and His Gentlemen Of Swing, released by his hometown label Chess. 

His early recordings were more or less traditional jazz, but started incorporating more mainstream flavors into his music in the mid 60s. This approach paid off big time when their version of “The In Crowd” cracked the pop top 5, went platinum, and earned the group a Grammy. From that point on, cover tunes were the order of the day, as the group had further success with “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.”

Young and Holt left to form their own group in 1966 and were replaced by Maurice White and Cleveland Eaton.

When White left to start Earth Wind and Fire in 1970, Morris Jennings was the new drummer. Lewis started to play electric keyboards to update his sound.

Lewis’ relationship with White reaped benefits when he produced the Sun Goddess album in 1975, giving him his biggest hit since “The In Crowd.” Other appealing 70s grooves were Salongo, Don’t It Feel Good, and Upendo Ni Pamoja

These days, he is an ambassador for the artform, hosting the syndicated series Legends Of Jazz as well as a daily radio program.      
Ramsey Lewis' Deepest Grooves

Ramsey Lewis and His Gentlemen of Swing (Argo, 1957)

The In Crowd, (Chess, 1965)

Up Pops Ramsey (Cadet, 1968)

Them Changes (Cadet, 1970)

Back to the Roots (Cadet, 1971)

Upendo Ni Pamoja (Columbia, 1972)

Funky Serenity (Columbia, 1973)

Sun Goddess (Columbia, 1975)

Don't It Feel Good (Columbia, 1975)

Salongo (Columbia, 1976)

Love Notes (Columbia, 1977)

Ramsey (Columbia, 1979)

Solar Wind (Columbia, 1980)

Live at the Savoy (Columbia, 1981)

Chance Encounter (Columbia, 1982)

Les Fleurs (CBS, 1983)

The Two of Us, (Columbia, 1984) (with Nancy Wilson)

Meant to Be (Narada, 2002) (with Nancy Wilson) 

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