Ramsey Lewis on improvisation

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Wade In the Water" CD: Ramsey Lewis's Finest Hour, Verve 314 543 763-2 (cut 14)

The music of 2007 NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis is steeped in the gospel tradition. In fact, it was one of his strongest influences from childhood.

Ramsey Lewis: I was amazed at the power of music by playing for our church. At what a song could do to people. What a melody and the choir singing certain things and the lead singer could move the audience. And it's the gospel influence in me that a lot of people - they would call it that bluesy guy...

MUSIC: up for punctuation and fades

But gospel is only one part of the equation...

Everything I do, the common denominator is improvisation. Improvisation that should swing. Have some forward motion to it. Even if it's a ballad. Have some movement about it. And where you gonna find that spontaneous improvisation in the moment except in jazz? On your mark, get set, ready, improvise!

MUSIC: "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" CD: Ramsey Lewis's Finest Hour, Verve 314 543 763-2 (cut 6)

This Jazz Moment with pianist Ramsey Lewis was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ramsey Lewis on improvisation