Rewards | Fire Keeper's Club
Thursday, February 25 at 8 p.m.
Composer, pianist and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis has been referred to as “the great performer,” a title reflecting his performance style and musical selections which display his early gospel playing and classical training along with his love of jazz and other musical forms. A native Chicagoan, Mr. Lewis represents the great diversity of music for which Chicago is noted.
Ramsey Lewis first captivated fans with his first album Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen of Swing by the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956. By 1965, he was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with “The In Crowd,” “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.” He has three Grammy® Awards and seven gold records to his credit. Often called legendary, Mr. Lewis concedes “It’s a high honor when someone says so, but I don’t see myself that way. What keeps me enthusiastic and energizes me, is the realization that the more I learn, the more I find there is to know.” He received the industry award for the 2006 Stellar Award for Best Gospel Instrumental Album, With One Voice, presented in January 2007. He was also the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in January 2007. Mr. Lewis has received four honorary doctorate degrees and numerous other accolades.
In addition to recording albums and performing live, Mr. Lewis hosted WNUA-FM Chicago’s weekday morning drive-time radio show, “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show,” from 1997–2009 for which he was awarded R&R’s (Radio&Records) 1999 and 2000 Personality of the Year Award. His syndicated “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis,” radio program continues to air in a number of cities throughout the U.S.
In 2003, Mr. Lewis along with Larry Rosen and Lee Rosenberg formed LRSmedia, an independent music entertainment company that created and produced branded entertainment properties for distribution across broadcast, live and recorded media. In April 2006, LRSmedia co-produced a series of 13 one-half hour television programs called “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis” making it the first time in forty years that jazz had enjoyed television coverage.
Beginning in 2005, Mr. Lewis began seriously composing large-scale musical works. The first was an eight-movement work for jazz trio and ballet in collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet and choreographed by Donald Byrd. The world premiere of “To Know Her . . .” was performed at Ravinia Festival in June of 2007. The second was an eight-movement work for jazz trio and string quartet entitled “Muses and Amusements.” This world premiere with the Turtle Island Quartet was also performed at Ravinia Festival in June of 2008. And the latest work was a multimedia tribute to Abraham Lincoln on the 200th anniversary of his birth. This eight-movement work entitled “Proclamation of Hope: A Symphonic Poem by Ramsey Lewis” was world premiered once again at Ravinia Festival in June of 2009 and was performed again in November of 2010 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Mr. Lewis continues to perform in the U.S. and abroad with his quintet: Henry Johnson on guitar, Joshua Ramos on bass, Charles Heath on drums and Tim Gant on keyboards.