We'll begin to wrap up the May days with a birthday recognition for a stalwart player that's been around for what seems like forever.
He led his first session in the mid-1950s, so maybe not forever but a good, long time anyway.
One of the rare Jazzers to run some material up the Pop chart flagpole, he's had future superstars aplenty come through his group since way back.
Heck, Maurice White -- founder of Earth, Wind & Fire -- was once his drummer.
In addition to playing the music, he's hosted one of the great radio programs about the music since 1990, called Legends of Jazz.
He also art directs a major festival in his native Chicago.
He's one of the principal figures that has had lifelong success with one of the hardest aspects: getting a non-Jazz audience to enjoy Jazz.
Part piano deity, part educator, part broadcaster, part ambassador .... is there anything Ramsey Lewis -- turning 85 today and still going strong -- doesn't do well?
Let's time travel back to 2004 for an example of his ongoing artistry, shall we? I knew you'd say yes.
Ramsey Lewis Trio
Onondaga County Community College
Syracuse, New York USA
01 Wade In the Water
02 O-o-h Child
03 Betcha By Golly Wow
04 Armando's Rhumba
05 Sun Goddess
06 Ray Charles medley incl. Amazing Grace, Georgia On My Mind & Motherless Child
07 Pass Me Not/Blues improvisation incl. Heartbreak Hotel & Flip, Flop & Fly
08 The "In" Crowd
Total time: 1:06:10
Ramsey Lewis - piano
Leon Joyce, Jr. - drums & percussion
Larry Gray - bass
master DAT from the soundboard
slightly edited, gaps fixed & volume issues corrected by EN, May 2020
267 MB FLAC here
I refurbished this one some, especially around smoothing it out volume-wise and fixing the lonnnnnng fade up at the beginning to play consistently in a reasonably audible fashion.
I'm gonna try to finish up this ridiculous Kraftwerk playlist and get it up by the end of the month, but no promises because it's a motherfucker and I want to tribute Florian Schneider in the most awesome way possible.
But today is all about Ramsey Lewis -- born this day in 1935 and still playing with the vigor of someone a half century his junior -- and you clicking that link and getting to wade in the waters of what he's been laying down for 65 years in music and counting.--J.