Ramsey Lewis Quintet and Lee Ritenour of Legendary Jazz Artists with Ernie Watts Debut at Segerstrom Concert Hall – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel
Legendary jazz artists Ramsey Lewis Quintet and Lee Ritenour with Ernie Watts make their Segerstrom Concert Hall debut
The three Grammy-winning artists continue the love of live music with New Jazz Series.
Get ready for an evening of jazz as legendary musicians Ramsey Lewis, Lee Ritenour and Ernie Watts come together to perform at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall as the 2017-2018 jazz season kicks off, Saturday, October 7 at 8:00 p.m. in Costa Mesa, California.
Renowned pianist and composer, Lewis and his new electric quintet: Henry Johnson (guitar), Michael Logan (keyboard), Joshua Ramos (bass) and Charles Heath (drums) are the headliners of the musical event celebrating the jazz art at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The series will follow with Grammy Award-winning guitarist, Ritenour and special guest saxophonist, Watts.
“It’s beautiful here,” says Ritenour. “Ernie Watts performs with me with my band as a special guest. He’s had an incredible career, and we’ve known each other for a very long time, recording on each other’s albums and projects. I’ve also known Ramsey for a decade .
On the importance of this jazz series, “It’s important that jazz finds its way back to where it was a few years ago,” says Lewis. “It’s great that we musicians can do what we can to perform at concerts, to improve the genre. Hopefully people will go out and talk about jazz in their communities.
“It’s very important to have venues to play in these days because a lot of them have dried up,” adds Ritenour.
With their careers spanning over 50 years, Lewis, Ritenour and Watts are three distinguished jazz artists who will take to the stage with both classical and modern talent and skill.
Lewis is no stranger to being at the forefront of contemporary jazz music and culture.
His credits include the release of “An Hour with the Ramsey Lewis Trio” (1959), rising up the pop charts in the 1960s with a revised and rhythmic version of the classic “Wade In The Water”, his hit album of the 1960s. 1970 “Sun Goddess”, with strokes of Earth, Air and Fire and Stevie Wonder’s single “Living for the City”. His musical styles range from funk, pop and R&B.
With his unwavering talent and dynamism, the pianist flourished, touring with Philip Bailey (Earth, Air and Fire). Lewis continues to hone his craft by practicing the piano every day. “I like to practice the piano, because I like to play”, he reveals, having recorded 70 to 80 albums. He was inducted into the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and the Grammy Hall of Fame. He is considered an ambassador of jazz. “He’s a great statesman of jazz and a true legend,” adds Ritenour.
“When I’m about to perform on stage that night and they say backstage ‘the curtains are in five minutes,’ I feel comfortable because I’m ready. The Opera Singer , Leontyne Price said something many years ago, “when they say 5 minutes, there’s that moment when you relax and know you’ve done everything you’ve done to come out and express yourself in front of the public “, he declares.
Lewis and Ritenour, who found success in the genre, suggest that jazz music is synonymous with America. Both musicians believe that music itself is one of the country’s greatest exports and contribution to global culture. Ritenour has spent half his career traveling and performing around the world, and has noticed that jazz is far more excepted in Europe and Asia than it is here.
The famous guitarist and producer says his music is very versatile. “It ranges from acoustic, contemporary jazz, funk, fusion and Brazilian elements. I try to make sure I know who I’m playing for. I adapt the music to the crowd,” he says.
Ritenour, began his musical career in the late 1960s, playing for the infamous folk and rock band, Moms & Dads. He officially started recording music in the 1970s and 1980s with a collection of albums ranging from “Lee Ritenour and His Gentle Thoughts” to “Earth Run”. He followed that up with the Grammy-nominated album “Wes Bound” in 1993. The diverse musician was a founding member of the smooth R&B jazz quartet, four games in the 1990s. Lee worked with musicians ranging from Slash to BB King. He is an award-winning guitarist who has had numerous number 1 spots in guitar polls with recordings from over 40 albums that have yielded 35 songs on the charts.
Saxophonist, Ernie Watts also appeared on the music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, creating music for TV shows and film scores. He worked and performed with Motown and Aretha Franklin. Watts has been featured on over 500 recordings and is a two-time Grammy Award winner. Watts is one of the most versatile saxophonists in the music industry. Watts used his signature sound to honor jazz pioneer John Coltrane, with the classic “Dedicated To You.”
With her success and talent, Watts mentors budding musicians, teaching clinics and masterclasses.
Lewis urges young people to expand their musical reach by attending symphonies, jazz concerts and ballets. “Young people should learn something about instruments, take lessons and be curious about why a cellist likes to play the cello. It can only make you a better person.
On the importance of how the frequency of jazz concerts influences the genre in today’s music culture, “obviously it’s not as popular as pop, rock or hip-hop music, but there is a huge place for it in the world,” Ritenour said. . “What doesn’t change is the live music. When someone sings or plays an instrument well, people like it.
To purchase tickets, visit SCFTA.org or call (714) 556-2787.