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Tequila Mockingbird

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Album Review

Despite the playful title, this effort often features the melancholy side of Lewis. He splits the production duties between Bert DeCoteaux and Earth, Wind and Fire member/keyboardist Larry Dunn. In both Dunn and DeCoteaux, Lewis works with producers he had never worked with prior to this. While the songs here do have trouble standing out, Tequila Mockingbird has a certain smoothness and cohesion that belies the sequencing and the different production styles. Whereas a producer like Charles Stephney made sure to match Lewis with evocative, challenging melodies, a lot of this has tracks any talented piano player could do. The Dunn productions, including the title track and "Skippin'," are heavy on a flashy, though well executed, style. The songs with DeCoteaux have a melancholy appeal. "Wandering Rose," a song Lewis first did on one of his late-'60s titles, and "Intimacy" both bring out the layers and emotion of his electric piano playing. The last track, the whimsical, Dunn-produced "That Old Bach Magic," is probably one of those tracks listeners never got to. All of the Dunn-produced efforts here have luminaries from Earth, Wind and Fire, including Al McKay and Johnny Graham on guitars and bassist Verdine White. Despite the producers and the artist, Lewis isn't given too much to work with here. That fact makes this less enjoyable than it could have been.


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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Tequila Mockingbird, Ramsey Lewis
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