Following his recent 75th birthday and the release of his latest trio recording Songs from the Heart, pianist Ramsey Lewis joins Alyn Shipton to discuss his recorded highlights.
This month, Chicago-born pianist Ramsey Lewis celebrates his 75th Birthday and the recent release of Songs From The Heart, his latest trio recording. This acoustic format has been a central component of Lewis' sixty-year career, bringing chart success in 1965 with 'The In Crowd', a track recorded live at Washington D.C.'s Bohemian Caverns where the audience's whoops and claps became, in Ramsey's words, the 'fourth member of the band'. But, as Alyn Shipton finds out in this programme, Lewis' catalogue of discs is richly varied, including interpretations of Beatles ballads, forays into fusion (with the help of Earth, Wind & Fire) and a large-scale gospel album alongside his many trio outings. A natural storyteller, Lewis remembers his father introducing him to the virtuosity of Art Tatum (prompting the question: 'Dad, who are they?') and, in conversation with Alyn Shipton, he describes how Western Classical tradition holds an important position in his musical thinking.