Ramsey Lewis | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ramsey Lewis 

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Sure, most of the stuff Ramsey Lewis records these days is more pop than jazz; and yes, he has long been dismissed by critics in inverse proportion to his popular appeal. But Ramsey Lewis, still a Chicago resident, is (as the ads put it) "home for the holidays," and he must like that home cookin', because he sounds awfully good. His taut, straightforward band is unencumbered by the clatter and clutter you find among so many insecure sidemen; what's more, it includes guitarist Henry Johnson, whose jazz chops seem unimpaired by his own pop/fusion recording career. That's a fair description of Lewis, too. His music has never been what you'd call "deep," and likely will never be; but his undertone of funk, his sense of drama (and even melodrama, on some arrangements), and his technique--which alternates glassy arpeggios with steel-mill chords--have more to do with Chicago than purists might care to admit. Saturday and Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday, next Saturday and Sunday, January 2 and 3, and Tuesday through Sunday, January 5 through 10; George's, 230 W. Kinzie; 644-2290.

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