Ramsey Lewis – High-Heel Sneakers

Listen to or Download Ramsey Lewis – High-Heel Sneakers from the Columbia Records 45

Here we are at Monday again folks, the Summer is just slipping away fast. I wanted to thank everyone that came out to Tasty Beats again this weekend on Saturday, it was another epic night. I’m seeing a lot of new faces, plus the old faces, and that’s a good sign. As I was looking for some records while the world outside was in a torrential downpour, I came across this 45. I thought originally that I had posted a piece on this artist, and after a quick search through my posts, I hadn’t. I found that kind of odd. So as I sat at my desk with one of my portables out, I put this record on, and I’m glad I did. Here’s Ramsey Lewis with “High-Heel Sneakers” from 1973 on Columbia Records.

Ramsey Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1935. He started playing piano at age 4, and by the time he turned 15 was playing in a seven piece Jazz band called the Clefts. This band would turn out to be important later on, because two of the Clefts would become part of the first Ramsey Lewis Trio. Bassist Eldee Young and drummer Redd Holt joined Lewis in the famous lineup. Playing straight ahead jazz they released their first record in 1956, but it wasn’t until 1966, when they put out The In Crowd that they were noticed a bit more. (Coincidentally, that was the first record I ever bought from them, and my love for Ramsey Lewis has never stopped). Young and Holt would soon leave to form the Young-Holt Trio and the personnel changes would move on the Cleveland Eaton on bass and Earth, Wind, and Fire founder Maurice White on drums. Meanwhile the Ramsey Lewis sound started to evolve, from straight ahead Jazz to a Jazzy Pop Covers. This caught on with the public, most of them who were not Jazz fans. Records like Wade in the Water and Hang on Sloopy reinforced this. He would also visit areas such as Brazilian Bossa Nova and Spanish songs in his 80 or so album career. My favorite period for Ramsey Lewis was the early 70’s, where he started switched to electric pianos and keyboards, and put out classics such as Funky Serenity, The Groover, and The Sun Goddess. This is his funky period, a period of experimentation where Lewis explored different shapes and sounds of Jazz and Funk. With more lineup changes throughout the late 70’s and 80’s, Lewis continued to push forward and switched back to acoustic piano performances. He had his own radio show in Chicago for 3 years up until 2009, and continues to fill out his nickname ” The Great Performer.”

“High-Heel Sneakers” starts off a bit like Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, (Lewis would cover Wonder on The Sun Goddess) but Lewis goes off to do his own thang and the groove begins. What we have here is really a legend again moving with the times, trying some different stuff, and while the straight ahead Jazz crowd would always reject the notion of straying away, his record sales and popularity show something different. Lewis wasn’t shunned, and as add this period as another feather in his music cap. See you Wednesday with some more dusty goodness. Keep Diggin’!

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