Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis [DVD/CD]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
It would be a shame if this exquisite collection got lost in the shuffle due to its carrying a rather generic and somewhat misleading title: Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. The four DVDs and four CDs within this box set do indeed contain music performed by jazz legends, one of them being, uh-huh, Ramsey Lewis. But Lewis is not the star of the set, per se. He serves primarily as host here, as master of ceremonies for the initial episodes of the PBS series collected within, said to be the first weekly jazz program on American television in some four decades. Each half-hour program features two or three jazz artists of variable renown: some truly legendary (Clark Terry, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
It would be a shame if this exquisite collection got lost in the shuffle due to its carrying a rather generic and somewhat misleading title: Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. The four DVDs and four CDs within this box set do indeed contain music performed by jazz legends, one of them being, uh-huh, Ramsey Lewis. But Lewis is not the star of the set, per se. He serves primarily as host here, as master of ceremonies for the initial episodes of the PBS series collected within, said to be the first weekly jazz program on American television in some four decades. Each half-hour program features two or three jazz artists of variable renown: some truly legendary (Clark Terry, the late Ray Barretto, to whom it's all dedicated, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea), some arguably not quite at that status yet, and others admittedly having a long way to go. The format is consistent throughout each of the dozen individual shows: first, Lewis introduces a theme, sometimes grouping like-minded instrumentalists ("The Tenors," "The Golden Horns," "The Piano Masters," "The Altos" "The Killer Bs," the latter being Hammond B-3 organists Joey DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith) and other times subgenres ("Brazilian Jazz," "Roots: The Blues," "American Songbook," "The Jazz Singers," "Contemporary Jazz," "Latin Jazz"); while the final program gathers 2006 NEA Jazz Masters honorees Tony Bennett, Barretto and Corea. Next, all-too-brief snippets of related historical footage are shown. Lewis intros his guests, chats with them, they perform separately, and at the end they jam, sometimes with Lewis joining them. On paper that might not look all that riveting -- it's certainly been done before, albeit not via weekly TV -- but the performances are, almost without exception, so outstanding that the repetitive formula doesn't drag the set down, even after several hours of viewing. From the very first live performance, Terry's still-stupefying "Mumbles," it's clear that quality control was paramount in the choices made here. Brubeck, well into his eighties, proves to be as agile as ever, and matching him up with Billy Taylor, a very different kind of jazz pianist but one whose innovations have been no less significant than Brubeck's, was a savvy move. Likewise, the program devoted to tenor saxists wisely cherry-picks from among generations and styles to juxtapose the veteran Benny Golson with the younger, more pop-oriented Chris Potter and the up-and-comer Marcus Strickland, making for some sharp contrasts but also begging the question of just how loosely the word "legend" is being applied here: certainly, of the three, only Golson comes close to qualifying. It's those juxtapositions that keep things interesting, however. Eddie Palmieri and Dave Valentin would appear to have little in common outside of both falling under the Latin jazz banner, but their segment makes a good case for both approaches. And even on those shows that have, on the surface, a negligible connection to jazz (the blues program features Robert Cray and Keb' Mo', for example, neither one remotely jazzy), Lewis is a skillful and amiable enough conversationalist to draw clear lines. His interviews rarely go very deep -- he only has a few minutes with each artist to work with -- and too often he relies on fallback questions such as who's been influenced by whom, but occasionally he gets a chuckle-worthy anecdote or quote-worthy comment from his guests. As the romantic trumpeter Chris Botti is telling how his record company trusted him to just make the music he wanted to make, ensuring him they would happily promote it, fellow guest Roy Hargrove, the hard bop trumpeter, suddenly gives Botti a skeptical look. "What record company is that?!" Hargrove demands to know, the inference being that today's music industry is so far removed from the concept of encouraging free rein among creative artists that his own experience won't even allow that notion to enter his mind. Not only is the music extraordinary, for the most part, but the sound and visuals are among the highest quality you're likely to encounter in a music program. Recorded with six HDTV cameras on 24-track digital audio with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, the set is truly state-of-the-art: sharp, crystal-clear and dynamic, both aurally and visually. In fact, having viewed the 12 half-hour episodes within on DVD before playing the audio companion pieces (the fourth disc is a "Showcase" that collects some of the best performances from the other three), the CDs that comprise the other half of the package ultimately feel somewhat superfluous. Granted, they sound superb and make for great listening on their own, but as they present the same material as found on the DVDs, they ultimately seem lacking minus the visuals. In addition to the DVDs and CDs, the set includes a 226-page soft cover book largely filled with glossy color photos from the programs as well as all of the pertinent details and selected quotes from the interviews. Overall it's a stunning collection, albeit one that doesn't so much offer clues as to the next phase of jazz as reiterate once again where it's been. That's not a criticism -- the set is, after all, ostensibly about established legends, not what's to come -- but it does make one wonder whether the parties involved are implying that jazz has seen its best days or whether they believe that there is still innovation in store. The individual discs are also being sold separately, but the box is well worth the investment.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/12/2006
  • Label: Lrs Media
  • UPC: 878509000629
  • Catalog Number: 900062

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Mumbles - Clark Terry (2:50)
  2. 2 Invitation - Roy Hargrove (4:14)
  3. 3 My Funny Valentine (4:36)
  4. 4 Cold Duck (3:28)
  5. 5 She's Funny That Way (4:46)
  6. 6 Take Five (3:46)
  7. 7 It's On (3:58)
  8. 8 Wes Bound - Lee Ritenour (5:00)
  9. 9 The Panther (4:37)
  10. 10 Star Eyes - Phil Woods (4:42)
  11. 11 Smile (3:40)
  12. 12 Señor Blues - Phil Woods (4:25)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Some Day My Prince Will Come - Dave Brubeck (3:54)
  2. 2 All the Things You Are - Billy Taylor (4:19)
  3. 3 Take the 'A' Train - Billy Taylor (4:27)
  4. 4 Love in Vain (2:45)
  5. 5 My Last Regret - Robert Cray (4:01)
  6. 6 12 Year Old Boy - Robert Cray (4:01)
  7. 7 I Got Rhythm - John Pizzarelli (2:31)
  8. 8 I Should Care (4:14)
  9. 9 They Can't Take That Away from Me - John Pizzarelli (3:48)
  10. 10 La Libertad - Eddie Palmieri (4:17)
  11. 11 Obsession (5:14)
  12. 12 Just a Little Dream - Eddie Palmieri (2:22)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Killer Joe - Benny Golson (3:52)
  2. 2 Body & Soul - Chris Potter (4:06)
  3. 3 Cherokee (3:05)
  4. 4 The Waters of March (3:15)
  5. 5 The Island (3:32)
  6. 6 Samba Do Aviao (4:21)
  7. 7 Caravan (4:14)
  8. 8 Blues for Bobby C - Joey DeFrancesco (4:00)
  9. 9 Some Day My Prince Will Come - Joey DeFrancesco (4:32)
  10. 10 Armando's Rhumba - Chick Corea (3:23)
  11. 11 I Mean You - Ray Barretto (3:26)
  12. 12 Dear Lord - Ramsey Lewis (3:20)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Take Five (3:47)
  2. 2 My Funny Valentine (4:37)
  3. 3 The Panther - Lee Ritenour (4:38)
  4. 4 Señor Blues - Phil Woods (4:25)
  5. 5 Armando's Rhumba - Chick Corea (3:22)
  6. 6 12 Year Old Boy - Robert Cray (4:01)
  7. 7 Killer Joe - Benny Golson (3:51)
  8. 8 The Island (3:32)
  9. 9 Mumbles - Clark Terry (2:50)
  10. 10 They Can't Take That Away from Me - John Pizzarelli (3:47)
  11. 11 Obsession (5:14)
  12. 12 Take the 'A' Train - Billy Taylor (4:27)
  13. 13 Dear Lord - Ramsey Lewis (3:20)
Disc 5
  1. 1 Bonus Material
Disc 6
  1. 1 Bonus Material
Disc 7
  1. 1 Bonus Material
Disc 8
  1. 1 Bonus Material
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Robert Cray Guitar, Vocals
Al Jarreau Vocals
Ray Barretto Conga
Ivan Lins Piano, Vocals
Dave Brubeck Piano
George Duke Keyboards
Roy Hargrove Trumpet
David Sanborn Alto Saxophone
Dave Valentin Flute
Michael Moore Bass
Ramsey Lewis Piano
Ernie Adams Drums
Robby Ameen Drums
Chris Botti Trumpet
Oscar Castro-Neves Guitar, Vocals
Clark Terry Trumpet, Vocals
Vinnie Colaiuta Drums
Chick Corea Piano
Benny Golson Tenor Saxophone
Larry Gray Bass
Kevin Hayes Drums
Marcus Miller Bass
Bill O'Connell Piano
Eddie Palmieri Piano
Willie Pickens Piano
John Pizzarelli Guitar, Vocals
Martin Pizzarelli Bass
Lee Ritenour Guitar
Karl Sevareid Bass
Michael Shapiro Drums
Billy Taylor Piano
Phil Woods Alto Saxophone
Kurt Elling Vocals
Vince Cherico Drums
Laurence Hobgood Piano
Joe Santiago Bass
Michael Kanan Piano
Robert Xavier Rodriguez Piano
Jane Monheit Vocals
Marcus Strickland Tenor Saxophone
Leon Jr. Joyce Drums
Rick Montalbano Drums
Jake Langley Guitar
Orlando Le Fleming Guitar
Jim Pugh Keyboards
Technical Credits
George Gershwin Composer
Al Jarreau Composer
Ivan Lins Composer
Paul Desmond Composer
George Duke Composer
Eddie Harris Composer
Horace Silver Composer
Bronislaw Kaper Composer
Ramsey Lewis Executive Producer
Jerome Kern Composer
Alan Bergman Composer
Marilyn Bergman Composer
Sammy Cahn Composer
Charlie Chaplin Composer
Clark Terry Composer
John Coltrane Composer
Chick Corea Composer
Gene DePaul Composer
Duke Ellington Composer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Benny Golson Composer
Johnny Green Composer
Oscar Hammerstein II Composer
Lorenz Hart Composer
Antonio Carlos Jobim Composer
Robert Johnson Composer
Marcus Miller Composer
Thelonious Monk Composer
Eddie Palmieri Composer
Don Raye Composer
Lee Ritenour Composer
Larry Rosen Producer, Executive Producer, Creation
Doug Sax Mastering
Axel Stordahl Composer
Billy Strayhorn Composer
Juan Tizol Composer
Paul Francis Webster Composer
Paul Weston Composer
Pedro Flores Composer
Kurt Elling Composer
Frank Churchill Composer
Robert Sour Composer
Frank Eyton Composer
Richard A. Whiting Composer
Neil Moret (Chas. N. Daniels) Composer
Larry Morey Composer
Iola Brubeck Composer
Sanwook "Sunny" Nam Mastering
Mike Egan Producer
Lee Rosenberg Executive Producer
Jim Pugh Composer
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