Biography by Scott Yanow
Ramsey Lewis has long straddled the boundary between bop-oriented jazz and pop music. Most of his recordings (particularly by the mid-'60s) were very accessible and attracted a large non-jazz audience. In 1956, he formed a trio with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Red Holt. From the start (1958), their records for Argo/Cadet were popular, although in the early days, they had a strong jazz content. In 1958, Lewis also recorded with Max Roach and Lem Winchester. On the 1965 albums The In Crowd and Hang On, Ramsey made the pianist into a major attraction and from that point, on his records became much more predictable and pop-oriented. In 1966, his trio's personnel changed with bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White (later the founder of Earth, Wind & Fire) joining Lewis. In the 1970s, Lewis often played electric piano, although by later in the decade he was sticking to acoustic and hiring an additional keyboardist. He can still play melodic jazz when he wants to, but Ramsey Lewis has mostly stuck to easy listening pop music during the past 30 years. In 2004 he released Time Flies, a look back at some of his most popular songs through new recordings.
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