Home

Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis can take the melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and turn it into a work of art. After watching and listening to him, I am sure of this. Eighty-years-old, he has the musical energy of a much younger man. He also brought to MacIninch Art Center a very talented group of musicians. 

 

First up was Henry Johnson on guitar. The first thing I thought of was Wes Montgomery. For those of you not familiar with Montgomery’s style, Wes mostly played with just his thumb on his right hand. Henry switched between that and a pick which he must have held in his palm while using his thumb. Johnson’s other influences include Kenny Burrell and George Benson. As a fledgling jazz guitar player myself, I found him to be a tasty player and learned a lot watching him play.

 

Joshua Ramos was on bass. He switched between upright bass and a five string electric through the set. Ramos got some serious applause from his solos. He played with the fluency most lead guitar players might envy. Having said that, he stayed in the pocket when he needed to do so.

 

On drums was Charles Heath. Heath is an amazing jazz drummer, switching from sticks to brushes depending on the song.  I found out he started playing drums at an early age and I am not surprised. He started working as a musician at the age of fourteen and earned a degree in music at Shaw University. His list of playing credits is quite long.

 

Then, of course you have Mr. Lewis, “the great performer”. Ramsey certainly lives up to the title. Though understandably a bit slow walking across the stage, it did not reflect his musical energy. He took Pop melodies to new heights. The Beatles’ “Here There and Everywhere” was my personal favorite. Another Beatles song he did amazing things to was “Hard Day’s Night”. Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” was very nice as well. I didn’t hear too many songs that one would consider jazz standards, except possibly his own compositions. Lewis did have a few hits in his heyday, most jazz musicians cannot claim that. The ability to take a familiar melody and turn it into something greater is truly an art. I overheard someone say how he never played one of the songs the same way twice. The jazz musical mind just seems to work like that. Lewis did not give you a heavily rehearsed, boring performance. It showed the listener how music can be spontaneous and structured at the same time.

 

The art of jazz is not as popular as it once was in America. You could tell this from the crowd. The average age was at least sixty, if I had to estimate. Personally, I find it so refreshing to see great musicians actually perform without the use of gimmicks. The raw energy of the performance was the key on this particular Saturday night. 

 

If you have any interest in seeing real music played the way it was supposed to be played, go see it now before all the classic players are all gone. At eighty-years-old, Ramsey won’t be around forever. The music will live forever, but the performers will not. I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but I think a lot of this is lost in music today. Go support music being played by real musicians like The Ramsey Lewis Quartet. Good music elevates you mind, body and soul to new heights. 

 

In the end, I found the performance inspirational and highly rewarding. The reward was an emotional sense of elevation. Music is the ultimate escape. For one hour and forty-five minutes I had no problems in my life. Even after coming back to reality, I felt better. I wish to thank “the great performer” for this. Ramsey Lewis is simply amazing and it was great to see and of course hear him.

 

Ramsey Lewis Quartet

March 12, 2016-7:30 PM

MacIninch Art Center

College Of DuPage

Glen Ellyn, IL

 

Published in In Concert

Review: Machinal at Greenhouse Theater Center

16 August 2017 in Theatre in Review

Machinal refers to an automated or mechanical system. Sophie Treadwell's 1929 play "Machinal" takes its styling from this theme. Directed…

"The Rembrandt" begins September 7th with John Mahoney and Francis Guinan

14 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of The Rembrandt, written by Jessica Dickey and directed…

Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia

13 August 2017 in In Concert

The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet.…

Delbert McClinton - One of the Fortunate Few

10 August 2017 in In Concert

I have been waiting to see Delbert McClinton for a while. It just never happened for me…timing, etc. Finally, it…

Shattered Globe's The Heavens are Hung in Black - September 7 - October 21, 2017 at Theater Wit

09 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to launch its 2017-18 Season with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still’s …

The American Mercy Tour: Mercy Killers and Side Effects - September 7 - October 8, 2017 at Greenhouse Theater Center

08 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Greenhouse Theater Center and Poor Box Theater, in association with D.C’s award winning Taffety Punk Theatre Company, is pleased to…

The Casting Auction's annual CASTING PARTY - Friday, November 3, 2017 at Michelle's Ballroom

08 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Anyone can be a star – for a price! The annual CASTING PARTY is a unique opportunity for amateur theatre…

William Petersen and more join the cast of Steppenwolf's upcoming "The Minutes" by Tracy Letts

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced today additional casting for the highly anticipated world premiere of The Minutes by ensemble member, Pulitzer…

Shattered Globe Theatre Announces 2017-18 Season - Three Chicago Premieres!

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, featuring three Chicago premiere productions! The season kicks off this…

About Face Theatre Announces 2017-18 Season - Three Midwest Premieres!

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

About Face Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, featuring three Midwest premieres! The season kicks off this fall/winter…

Strawdog Opens with Robert O'Hara's "Barbecue" August 28th at Steppenwolf 1700 Theater

03 August 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Strawdog Theatre Company and Artistic Directors Michael Dailey, Heath Hays and Anderson Lawfer are proud to announce the first production…

The great Delbert McClinton to play City Winery August 9th

03 August 2017 in In Concert

Delbert McClinton may not be a household name, but he should be. A singer-songwriter, harmonica player, pianist and guitarist, we…

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

  • Review: Machinal at Greenhouse Theater Center
    Written by
    Machinal refers to an automated or mechanical system. Sophie Treadwell's 1929 play "Machinal" takes its styling from this theme. Directed by Jacob Harvey, Greenhouse Theater Center brings this work back to Chicago for the first time in many years. Maybe…
  • "The Rembrandt" begins September 7th with John Mahoney and Francis Guinan
    Written by
    Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of The Rembrandt, written by Jessica Dickey and directed by Hallie Gordon. Currently in rehearsals, this subtle and elegant play features ensemble members Francis Guinan as Henry/Rembrandt and John…
  • Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia
    Written by
    The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet. The act that has graced the stages with the most famous performers at Woodstock has come to Ravinia in Highland…
  • Delbert McClinton - One of the Fortunate Few
    Written by
    I have been waiting to see Delbert McClinton for a while. It just never happened for me…timing, etc. Finally, it happened. I even took my Mom who is as big a fan as I am. Warming up for Delbert was…

Guests Online

We have 80 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter