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

"This Wonderful Life" is just that - wonderful

11 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

Most of us have seen Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” at some point in their lives. Whether a Holiday…

"42nd Street!" wows audiences with thrilling, energetic dance and song!

08 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

The current production of 42nd Street at Drury Lane Theater left me breathless! With book by Michael Stewart and Mark…

School of Rock at Cadillac Palace will rock your socks off

05 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

Here comes the feel-good show that both adults and kids will enjoy. Based on the 2003 movie by the same…

Newsies at The Marriott Theatre: Pomp and Papes

03 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

Newsies, the Disney film from 1992 by Alan Menken (whose run around the same time of Little Mermaid, Beauty and…

Review: Wagner’s “Die Walküre” at Lyric Opera

03 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

“I’ve always favored unbridled passions,” sings Wotan in the Lyric Opera’s new production of Richard Wagner’s “Die Walküre” This is…

Yasmina's Necklace touches the heart

01 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

Playwright Rohina Malik and director Ann Filmer have reunited and have collaborated on something special. Goodman Theatre’s current run of…

Review: Welcome to Jesus at American Theatre Company

01 November 2017 in Theatre in Review

Celebrating nearly 35 years in their factory space around the North Center neighborhood, American Theater Company has a knack for…

Other Theatre's Holiday Hit "Barney the Elf" - November 17 - December 30 at Greenhouse Theater Center

28 October 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Other Theatre is pleased to continue its 4th season with the third revival of its holiday hit BARNEY THE ELF,…

NRBQ Makes Big Splash at Fitzgerald's

28 October 2017 in In Concert

NRBQ is a fun band. “New Rhythm and Blues Quartet”. I find the name slightly misleading. When I think of…

Review: In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play at Timeline Theatre

27 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

Sarah Ruhl’s ‘In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play’ returns to Chicago at Timeline Theatre. Directed by Mechelle Moe,…

Carrie 2: The Rage (An Unauthorized Musical) A Funny Halloween Treat That Urges People "Not to Suck So Much"

22 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

Most people are aware of the movie Carrie, starring the haunting Sissy Spacek as the picked on teenaged outsider who…

Mysteriously seductive, Joffrey’s "Giselle" charms with its darkness

20 October 2017 in Dance in Review

Giselle, Adolphe Adam’s beautiful tale created for the ballet’s premiere in Paris back in 1841, has been re-imagined by the…

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 109 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter