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Ramsey Lewis: Plays the Beatles Songbook (Great Songs/Great Performances)

Ramsey Lewis

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Album Review

The Great Performances/Great Songs series by Verve is a new attempt to get prospective buyers interested in its vast jazz catalog; introducing them to large-scale hits by artists who appeared either on its label proper or on one of its licensees'. In the case of Ramsey Lewis, it’s his famous Beatles covers that were cut for Cadet with producer Esmond Edwards. There are eight tracks here clocking at just under 36 minutes, including the live versions of "A Hard Day's Night" and "And I Love Her," from Hang on Ramsey, featuring the original trio with the rhythm section of Redd Holt and Eldee Young, and "Day Tripper" with Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White from Wade in the Water (both 1966). The remainder of these cuts were taken from an ambitious, all Beatles album released by Lewis in 1968 called Mother Nature’s Son on Chess. This was the first album on which he played Fender Rhodes piano, as well as acoustic and Hammond B-3 (check “Back in the U.S.S.R.”), and is backed by his own group and an orchestra arranged and conducted (brilliantly) by Charles Stepney. There is a stark contrast between the trio cuts and the orchestrated ones, but they all simply groove — even the ballads “Dear Prudence” and “Julia.” For the super-budget price tag, this is a collection worth picking up.

Biography

Born: May 27, 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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Ramsey Lewis: Plays the Beatles Songbook (Great Songs/Great Performances), Ramsey Lewis
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