Washington, Sep 13 – The American jazz pianist and teacher Ramsey Lewis died on Monday at his home in Chicago at the age of 87, as confirmed by his manager in a statement published this Tuesday by local media.
The three-time Grammy winner, co-writer (with Dobie Gray) of the hit song “The in crowd,” “died peacefully” on the morning of September 12.
In the words of his manager, Brett Steele, Lewis “successfully went from the jazz charts to the pop charts” and became one of the leading lights of American jazz in his seven-decade career. last decades.
Ramsey E. Lewis Jr. was born in Chicago on May 27, 1935, began piano lessons at age four and played the piano at church, where his father was a choir director.
A fan of jazz, his mother had a great influence on his career as he played many songs by Duke Ellington and Art Tatum at home and took his son to jazz concerts.
When Ramsey was a freshman at Wells High School, he was asked by saxophonist and pianist Wallace Burton to join his band, the Clefs, a college-age septet that mixed jazz and R&B.
After the outbreak of the Korean War, the military draft claimed several members of the Clefs and the three members who were not drafted, including Lewis, formed what would become known as the classic Ramsey Lewis Trio.
In 1956 they released their first album, Ramsey Lewis and His Gentlemen of Jazz.
A few years later his first big hit would come, “The in crowd”, a Grammy-winning song, which was followed by two more hits, “Hang on Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water”.
Over the years, Lewis has performed and recorded in a remarkable variety of musical settings. He embraced R&B and Latin music without abandoning mainstream jazz.
Among his many honors are five honorary doctorates and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Artist.
The single “The in Crowd” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and his personal memorabilia resides at the Smithsonian Institution.
Lewis received the 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, which placed him among such hallowed piano legends as Ahmad Jamal, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Dr. Billy Taylor, and Cecil Taylor.
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