… Ramsey Lewis, the ultimate pop-funk-jazz pianist, recently appeared at the Grand Finale, which is attracting a lot of top name talent these days since Reno Sweeney’s closed. Lewis hasn’t played in New York club in several years. Although his music is now geared more toward the concert audience, he did seem quite comfortable and loose in the intimate club setting. After he played two cuts from his latest album “Routes,” Lewis settled into a repertoire of his originals the date back to the mid 60s. Lewis can play stop your feet blues, or straight laced classical music long Dash all with that distinctive sound that is uniquely his own. He said also included a piece for solo piano —no drums, no guitar, just Ramsey Lewis. The only criticism was — it was just too short. Lenny Welch, the pop-ballad vocalist, who warmed the backstage for Lewis, is still a master entertainer, conscious of how to get an audience to react… .
… A little known jazz festival takes place every year in Stamford, Connecticut, the Jackie Robinson jazz festival — a must for families who appreciate jazz. This year marked their 18th annual production. The top names in jazz were there: dizzy Gillespie, Max roach, Lee Konitz, Jerry Mulligan, George Shearing, Sarah Vaughan and Buddy Rich, just to name a few.
Rachel Robinson, wife of the late baseball great, along with her son David, hosted the noon to sunset festival/picnic on their 10 acre estate. The Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the goals of the baseball pioneer, uses the proceeds from the festival for various social, educational, in humanistic projects and programs. All of the musicians donate their time and talents.
The audience was like one big family and the entertainers did not hesitate to grab a piece of chicken or a plate of potato salad from anyone who offered it. Max roach was especially cooperative in taking many pictures with his fans. Dizzy Gillespie, the perennial stage clown, carried on with his usual antics. Four stars for the Robinson family and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. A special thanks to the family who liked this unprepared writer a blanket so that his day was a little less damp!…
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