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The Very Best of Ramsey Lewis

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Album Review

This collection represents the "very best-of Ramsey Lewis" on GRP only. The "very best-of Ramsey Lewis period" would require several discs and would indeed include entire albums — so prolific has the man been throughout most of his career. The material included here was recorded between 1992 and 1998 for Dave Grusin's label and includes Lewis' smoothest sides. Literally. This isn't so much the funky Ramsey Lewis, or the fieriest Ramsey Lewis, but the Ramsey Lewis who pursued the groove in smooth jazz as the genre was being solidly defined. Unlike many other performers in this category, Lewis is a jazz musician first and foremost, and it shows in every note he plays. The best material from this 11-track collection includes "Baile del Alma (Dance of the Soul)," from the album of the same name issued in 1998, his revamped "Sun Goddess 2000" — aping his biggest hit recorded for Columbia in 1974 — from Between the Keys in 1996, "Les Fleurs" from the same set — these track feature a huge band — and "Who Are You," from 1993's Sky Islands. While the GRP period may not have been Lewis' most creative or memorable, these tracks narrow it down and prove that a soul-jazz musician from the '60s could make the transition to the more radio-friendly format in the '90s, and still keep his funk.


Born: 27 May 1935 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis has been a major figure in contemporary jazz since the late 1950s, playing music with a warm, open personality that's allowed him to cross over to the pop and R&B charts. Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 27, 1935, and was introduced to music by his father, who directed the choir at a local church and enjoyed the music of Duke Ellington and Art Tatum. Lewis began studying the piano when he was four years old, and was soon accompanying the choir at Sunday...
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The Very Best of Ramsey Lewis, Ramsey Lewis
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