Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr. is an American jazz composer, pianist and radio personality. Ramsey Lewis has recorded over 80 albums and has received seven gold records and three Grammy Awards so far in his career.
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Hello friends, Ramsey Lewis here. I'm a three time Grammy® award winner and NEA Jazz Master - the highest honor that our nation bestows on jazz artists. I've also had seven gold records in my career. You probably know me for my songs "The 'In' Crowd" or "Sun Goddess" - my collaboration with Earth, Wind & Fire.
My 80th record "Taking Another Look - Deluxe Edition," is being released July 24th on my new label Ramsey's House Records. Go ahead Reddit Ask Me Anything!
Here’s Proof - https://twitter.com/RamseyLewis/status/624292359019319297
Amazon Album Pre-order link - http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Another-Look-Ramsey-Lewis/dp/B00WZBWH9Y
"Living For The City" - https://youtu.be/GduLDOai3Zo
30 second promo video - https://youtu.be/RTVIqMbqpdA
I'm a big fan of yours.
As a jazz guitarist, a huge challenge for me is staying in the moment while anticipating chord changes. What's running through your head during a ii V I?
Also.....what's your favorite chord?
I don't have a favorite chord. The chord that I'm playing at the moment is always my most favorite. And there are many variations of ending a song. ii V I is the most common. But there are other ways to move to the tonic. That's the fun of Jazz.
Who inspires you?
First and foremost, my inspiration comes from my wife, Jan.
What were the 60's like as a musician?
The 60's on one hand were very turbulent because young people wanting a music of their own turned from Jazz and European Classical music and of course there was the reaction to the Vietnam war and it influenced almost everything one did. Out of it, however, came some wonderful young musicians and composers in almost every genre.
Popular Jazz history kind of stops in the late 60s, kind of as shown by Ken Burns documentary. Why do you think that is? Is it annoying that even still the 70s and 80s don't get the due of the 40s and 50s?
Ken Burns probably didn't have the budget or the time to continue the history of Jazz to date, but it continues to evolve… continues to grow. And there are veterans and young people STILL making major contributions to the music. My only concern, however, is it seems to me some groups of musicians have begun writing and performing as if they are playing for other learned musicians. I think that we must always remember that this music started as dance music. Of course Jazz evolved into concert music, but we must never forget that although it is no longer dance music, it is still a form of entertainment.
What, so far, has been the most memorable moment throughout your career?
The first time I played Carnegie Hall. In fact, that day I took my family to New York because we taped the Johnny Carson Show in the afternoon and played Carnegie Hall that night. I was a ball of nerves, but once I started the performance I was at ease.
Any figures in jazz history who were deserved giants back in the day that have been too forgotten? Any one who never got their due?
I figure your perspective will be unmatched, and I would love to hear about some lesser known people.
Phineas Newborn, Jr. left us all too soon. He was about to make a major contribution to the art of playing the piano. I also feel that there should be a holiday to recognize Billy Strayhorn's contribution to music in general.
Who were the oldest musicians you worked with starting out? There must have been some with roots in the 19th century? Any memories of them, or their stories?
I had memorable times performing with the Max Roach Quintet at the Blue Note in Chicago. Unfortunately Richie Powell was killed in an accident and I was asked to sit in for him. Also performing with the likes of Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie among others.
What was the most pivotal point in your life, and what gave you the courage to follow your dream of being a musician?
There were three pivotal points in my life. One, when I was four years old and got to start taking piano lessons. Two, when I was nine and got to start playing with our gospel church. The third, when I was sixteen years old and joined the Cleffs, a Jazz band in Chicago and the leader, Wallace Burton took the time to show me the ins and outs of performing Jazz. When I was twelve years old, something clicked in me that made me love the sound and feel of the piano and from that day on, I wanted to be the best piano player I could be. Never dreaming of hit records or gold records etc.
How do you keep life on the road interesting?
By having my lovely, charming and beautiful wife travel with me. It's never boring.
did you ever think you would record 80 albums?
As it was happening, I never thought about it. Early on in the 50's and 60's we were recording 2 albums a year. I think that's how the count got so high. It wasn't until the late 60's that we started recording one album a year.
We think so! Great photo, thanks.
Another great couple
That says it all! How can we find a copy of that photo! I'd like to have it. Thank you for that.
Hello, Mr.Lewis. I'm your ukrainian fan. You are a living legend to me. I would die to hear you in concert. You gave me so much inspiration as a musician to a musician. Especially Another Voyage. Amazing album.
My question is that. What was your inspiration throughout the years? What is that thing that keeps you going and make that wonderful music you make?
Well besides the creative people in my family… my sons and daughters. Actually, nature itself. I'm inspired by my surroundings, whether it's the energy of the city, or the flowers, trees, stars… I try to be in the moment and sensitive to what's happening around me. And most times I can find inspiration there.
Do you think Jazz is dead?
Jazz is alive and well. If you don't believe me, check the high schools and colleges across the country. Almost all of them have Jazz bands and young people are really into the music.
What did Rudy Van Gelder bring to the table that others did not?
He made himself as important to the recording of a CD as the musicians. His style of recording was unique and you could always tell when Rudy Van Gelder was involved.
What's the secret to a great live show? How much a factor is the audience's energy?
A great live show is when the Artist is able to reach out and touch the audience with his or her performance to the point that the audience unknowingly becomes a member of the group. Every performance is a give and take between Artist and audience.
Mr. Lewis, thank you for doing this. You were one of the most gracious, sweet and gentlemenly artists I had the pleasure of taking care of when you performed at The Dakota in Minneapolis.
I really love the Dakota and look forward to returning. Jazz is alive and well in the hands of a lot of up and coming musicians. I'm currently listening to about 17,000 songs and counting on my iPod. I turn it on and press shuffle, so I'm listening to all kinds of Artists in all categories of music all of the time.
What's the deal with airline food?
I remember when they were so proud of their food, that in first class they would carve the beef or ham or turkey… whatever on the cart coming down the aisle. Now we've come to the point where most of us buy our own food before we get on the plane in first class or whatever class. Now, the only flights that have decent food are the international flights.
Do you agree with Miles Davis's claim that 'free jazz' killed the momentum of jazz as popular music?
Yes, because those musicians are playing for each other and a minute segment of the fans, leaving the rest of the audience scratching their heads or staying at home.
Any artists that are a guilty pleasure for you? Anyone people look at you sideways when you turn on?
I like all kinds of music and I don't feel guilty or embarrassed at all when I'm listening to great pop, rock or R&B artists. I eat all kinds of fruit, different kinds of vegetables and enjoy all kinds of music!
What is the worst advice you ever followed?
You'll never know :-)
At a concert in Fayetteville, Ark. several years ago (when you toured with Dave Brubeck) your wonderful sidemen left the stage and you began a soft, introspective solo when a knucklehead in the balcony not only allowed his cell phone to ring, but actually answered the call. Your hands hovered over the keyboard until the disruption was over. I've never seen such poise at a performance, and don't remember when I have ever been so embarrassed for another person's disregard of why we go to see and hear live music. What goes through your head when an audience member breaks your concentration like that?
That he's one of many and I would not let one bad apple spoil the bushel. I sorely miss Dave and Iola Brubeck. His wife Iola was always backstage at all of his concerts smiling and listening to him as if it was the first time she was hearing him play. What a wonderful way to be.
Hey Ramsey, who is your favorite basketball player?
Oh God! Michael Jordon. But he's first on a list of 6-7 which include Magic Johnson and others. I'm a huge basketball fan.
Did you play any sports? @Ramsey
I played basketball when I was kid before I started focusing all my time on the piano. Now I'm just a fan.