lunedì 28 novembre 2011

Intervista a Ramsey Lewis

Il leggendario pianista e compositore Ramsey Lewis, in oltre cinque decenni di carriera, ha registrato circa 80 album, ha ricevuto sette dischi d'oro e guadagnato tre Grammy Awards in una carriera nella quale ha prodotto clamorosi successi come "The ‘In’ Crowd," "Hang On Sloopy" e "Wade In The Water."
Dopo un periodo di transizione con incursioni dentro e fuori la fusion e lo smooth jazz, Lewis in questi ultimi anni ha ricevuto l'incarico di comporre un balletto jazz, ha contribuito a fondare un programma di jazz mentoring e scritto diversi brani per ensemble d'archi e orchestra.

Il sito Something Else! ha pubblicato una bella intervista al pianista di cui pubblichiamo un estratto:
Nick DeRiso: Give us some insight into Take Another Look, the new project that became your 80th album release. It’s been called a journey through songs that have meant a lot to you over the years, like Stevie Wonder’s legendary “Living for the City.” What went into selecting that track?
Ramsey Lewis: Not unlike most European classical music and the great American songbook, there are jazz compositions that deserve reconsideration or repeated interpretation. Probably even more so in jazz, because our interpretations are ‘of the moment,’ therefore we no doubt see things differently now than we might have years ago. So in putting together the electric band, I went back and listened to some of the things we had performed during the Sun Goddess period and was interested in seeing what these new young musicians currently in the band would do with them — and I wasn’t surprised to hear their contribution to the pieces. I thought it important to include these on the album.
DeRiso: Obviously, staying close to your roots is important. You formed your first trio with a couple of your earliest musical jazz partners, and still live in the town of your birth, Chicago. How has having that support system enriched your life?
Lewis: Chicago is a wonderful city in many ways, but especially in the arts. We have a variety of institutions consisting of the Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony, Art Institute and Joffrey Ballet. We also have a wonderful blues community, great gospel music and all kinds of pop and rock ’n’ roll. It is a very supportive city, in that the audiences are never challenging. Their attitude for me is, as it always seems to have been, ‘OK, well show me what you got.’ Chicago is home.
DeRiso: It might be hard for today’s generation to imagine, but your 1965 hit “The ‘In’ Crowd” shot all the way to No. 2 on the U.S. pop charts. Why doesn’t more jazz cross over anymore? What changed? The culture or the music?
Lewis: Jazz was never a big crossover music. There were only a handful of us that were fortunate enough to have the kind of exposure that allowed us to cross over to other genres. One of the best examples would be Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” There are hardly any radio stations playing jazz these days, and the support from record companies is not the greatest. The industry also plays its part in the change. It was easier in my day, because rock ’n’ roll, pop, jazz and blues were clearly defined. Now, all of these categories have many sub-categories and the definitions have become so much more rigid.
DeRiso: Is it true that the impetus for recording “The ‘In’ Crowd” as a jazz instrumental came from a coffee shop waitress? What led you to that piece of career-making music?
Lewis: Three of four days before we were about to play the Bohemian Caverns in DC, the guys and I were in our regular coffee shop killing time between shows — because back then, you’d do 4-5 shows a day with an hour break in between. We had become regulars at the coffee shop and the waitress had come to know us. We were talking about the album we were about to record live at the Bohemian Caverns, and we still needed one more song to complete the set. It was to be our 17th album and we already had the meat and potatoes. As we were recording our 12th or 13th album, we decided to start including a ‘fun’ song and this was the missing element. The waitress said, “Hey, why not play Dolby Gray’s new song, ‘The In Crowd.’” One of us put 10 cents in the jukebox and we all listened to it. It had a nice simple melody and it was exactly the kind of song that would round the album out. The rest was history....
(continua a leggere sul sito originario)

Ecco il video di The ‘In’ Crowd registrato al Montreal Jazz Festival:

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