Ramsey Lewis & His Electric Band
After playing almost exclusively in an acoustic trio format for well over a decade, jazz piano icon Ramsey Lewis traded his Steinway grand for a Fender Rhodes, plugged in, and expanded his trio (bassist Joshua Ramos, drummer Charles Heath) to a quintet, adding guitarist Henry Johnson and keyboardist Mike Logan (replaced on tour by Tim Gant). The resulting album, Taking Another Look, and now subsequent tour revisit Lewis's mid-1970s period, when he added funk, soul, and R&B elements to his already trademark blend of jazz, pop, gospel, and classical. In fact, more than half of TAL consists of smart new, but not radically different, versions of songs from 1974's Sun Goddess, which was produced by former Lewis sideman Maurice White, who also played on the album with members of his band, Earth, Wind & Fire. The band achieve a fine, slippery cohesion on TAL, working up tasty jazz-funk grooves that peak on Stevie Wonder's "Living in the City" and "Jungle Strut" while the 76-year-old Lewis's keyboard work remains lithe and vibrant.
Mondays, Sundays, 7 & 9 p.m. Starts: May 20. Continues through May 21, 2012
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