Gentleman of Jazz : A Life in Music

Ramsey Lewis and Aaron Cohen

Dion Graham (Narrator)

05-09-23

4hrs 49min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography

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Play Audio Sample

05-09-23

4hrs 49min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography

Description

“Ramsey Lewis is a man who has touched all of our lives. Not everybody finds their calling in life as a four-year-old boy sitting at a piano in the living room, but ever since he did he’s filled our lives with music and with joy.” President Barack Obama

Finalist for the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Biography/Autobiography
A Chicago Reader Pick of the Year
A Chicago Tribune Pick for Summer Reading
An AARP Magazine Editors’ Pick of Top Audiobooks for Summer
A Kobo Pick of New Autobiographies & Memoirs

This immersive new autobiography provides insight into the early life and illustrious career of the late great Ramsey Lewis, one of the most popular jazz pianists of all time.

Beginning with his childhood growing up in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood, Ramsey Lewis recounts his memories of the music in his parents’ church and his early piano lessons. As he learned classical technique, Lewis also absorbed countless jazz records and heard gospel music weekly, finally becoming a performer himself in his teenage years. With his coauthor and collaborator, Aaron Cohen, Lewis describes his early steps in jazz from joining the Clefs in the ’50s, to eventually establishing the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

This memoir provides an evocative tour of Lewis’s life from the club circuit of the early 1960s and recording with Chess Records to working with producer Maurice White and musicians such as Stevie Wonder. In this deep dive into an exceptional life and expansive career, Lewis takes us through his artistic challenges, offers insight and perspective on his own musical growth and the creative process, and describes his eventual foray into symphonic composition and performance.

Gentleman of Jazz: A Life in Music is an inspiration to young musicians eager to follow in his footsteps and a tribute to the legacy of Ramsey Lewis and is sure to appeal to longtime fans as well as those new to the jazz scene.

Praise

“Ramsey Lewis is a man who has touched all of our lives. Not everybody finds their calling in life as a four-year-old boy sitting at a piano in the living room, but ever since he did he’s filled our lives with music and with joy.” President Barack Obama

“This book is a treasure chest of jazz history, and one gets a chance to be a painting on the walls of sorts to some of the most iconic moments in the life and times of the great Ramsey Lewis. Ramsey is true music royalty. A great mentor, family, and friend. His legacy reigns on. Fantastic read.” Philip Bailey, Grammy-winning lead singer of Earth, Wind & Fire

“Dion Graham’s brisk pacing works well to invite listeners into the energetic life and career of jazz icon Ramsey Lewis…This audiobook defines an important American musician who made major contributions to twentieth-century jazz.” AudioFile

“Lewis provides a straightforward, candid, and lively account of his more than sixty-year-long musical journey that will appeal to general readers and jazz fans.” Library Journal

“Poignant…Lewis’s artistry is on full display (documented in an annotated discography) even as Cohen laments that Lewis has been overlooked in jazz history texts. Gentleman of Jazz, he notes, ‘is intended to help correct the blanks in that historical record.’ It does so with grace and, yes, a gentlemanly dignity.” Booklist

“I discovered Ramsey Lewis’s artistry and his wonderful storytelling ability on the piano when I was fourteen years old. When I met him at the Hampton House in 1962 I also discovered what a most gracious and generous gentleman he was. These qualities emboldened my desire to play music and tell my story with the piano. I am so happy that he now told us his story in words in this fascinating account.” Monty Alexander, Grammy-nominated, award-winning jazz pianist

“Ramsey Lewis was pure class. A role model indeed. He mentored a generation or more of musicians that went on to lead, discover, and create their own brand of music. He had such a distinct sound. As soon as he put his hands on the keys, you felt at ease. The trio recordings are groundbreaking. No one had ever mastered covering current pop songs in an instrumental soul jazz setting and top the charts. They would burst out of the radio and you felt as if you were there in the club, having fun, grooving, a witness to something glorious…Ramsey and Chicago are synonymous.” Steve Jordan, the Rolling Stones

“As a fellow Chicagoan and jazz artist, I am grateful for Gentleman of Jazz because it beautifully brings his life back to us—his family, memories, influences, artistic evolution, rich collaborations, innovative bridge building of jazz, gospel and R & B, as well as his love and passions that inspired a momentous life well lived.” Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony nominee, Broadway star, and jazz great

“Don’t miss this superb memoir filled with fascinating encounters with the likes of Barack Obama, Aretha Franklin, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and scores of other well-known personalities and top music superstars. This captivating book captures Ramsey’s life as a hitmaker, virtuoso jazz pianist, radio and television personality, humanitarian, and so much more.”  Rick Bleiweiss, Grammy-nominated record producer and award-winning, bestselling author

“If there was a Mt. Rushmore of Jazz, Ramsey would easily be immortalized in stone. His storytelling, like his music, is elegant, profound and blissful.” Barry Avrich, director and producer, Oscar Peterson: Black + White  

“The accolades and the audiences agree: Ramsey Lewis was a jazz legend. How lucky we are to have his incredible six-decade career on record and, thanks to this book, recounted through these anecdotes, where his generosity as a musician and a human being shines through.” Mark Selby, producer, Oscar Peterson: Black + White

“As his first radio producer Ramsey Lewis became more of a father figure to me than someone I worked with. As if he didn’t have enough sons he adopted me and taught me discipline in love, family, spirituality, humility, positivity and artistic integrity. When I heard that Aaron Cohen was chosen to help with his autobiography, I called Ram and told him if he would’ve asked me who should do it, I would’ve said Aaron. It’s not only Ram’s music history that comes through in these pages but all those essentials of life that he taught me and lived in his own life. Kudos to Mr. Cohen.” Mark Ruffin, program director, Real Jazz, Sirius XM

“It’s not only Ram’s music history that comes through in these pages but all those essentials of life that he taught me and lived in his own life. Kudos to Mr. Cohen.” Mark Ruffin, program director, Real Jazz, Sirius XM

+ More
Details
More Information
Language English
Release Day May 8, 2023
Release Date May 9, 2023
Release Date Machine 1683590400
Imprint Blackstone Publishing
Provider Blackstone Publishing
Categories Arts & Entertainment, Biographies & Memoirs, Cultural & Regional, Art & Literature, Music, Entertainment & Celebrities
Author Bio
Ramsey Lewis

Ramsey Lewis (1935–2022) was one of the most popular jazz pianists of all time, with more than eighty albums to his name. A National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Top 10 hitmaker, and winner of three Grammys, Lewis also hosted popular television and radio shows that honored the history of jazz music. He was not only influential for many modern jazz artists but beats he created decades ago can be heard across R&B and hip-hop. Through it all, Lewis remained grounded, never leaving behind his roots in Chicago.

Aaron Cohen

Aaron Cohen teaches humanities at City Colleges of Chicago and writes for numerous publications, including the Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, and Chicago Reader. He is the author of Move on Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power and Amazing Grace. Cohen has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar and is a two-time recipient of the Deems Taylor Award for outstanding music writing from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Narrator Bio
Dion Graham

Dion Graham is an award-winning narrator named a “Golden Voice” by AudioFile magazine. He has been a recipient of the prestigious Audie Award numerous times, as well as Earphones Awards, the Publishers Weekly Listen Up Awards, IBPA Ben Franklin Awards, and the ALA Odyssey Award. He was nominated in 2015 for a Voice Arts Award for Outstanding Narration. He is also a critically acclaimed actor who has performed on Broadway, off Broadway, internationally, in films, and in several hit television series. He is a graduate of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, with an MFA degree in acting.

Overview

Finalist for the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Biography/Autobiography
A Chicago Reader Pick of the Year
A Chicago Tribune Pick for Summer Reading
An AARP Magazine Editors’ Pick of Top Audiobooks for Summer
A Kobo Pick of New Autobiographies & Memoirs

This immersive new autobiography provides insight into the early life and illustrious career of the late great Ramsey Lewis, one of the most popular jazz pianists of all time.

Beginning with his childhood growing up in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood, Ramsey Lewis recounts his memories of the music in his parents’ church and his early piano lessons. As he learned classical technique, Lewis also absorbed countless jazz records and heard gospel music weekly, finally becoming a performer himself in his teenage years. With his coauthor and collaborator, Aaron Cohen, Lewis describes his early steps in jazz from joining the Clefs in the ’50s, to eventually establishing the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

This memoir provides an evocative tour of Lewis’s life from the club circuit of the early 1960s and recording with Chess Records to working with producer Maurice White and musicians such as Stevie Wonder. In this deep dive into an exceptional life and expansive career, Lewis takes us through his artistic challenges, offers insight and perspective on his own musical growth and the creative process, and describes his eventual foray into symphonic composition and performance.

Gentleman of Jazz: A Life in Music is an inspiration to young musicians eager to follow in his footsteps and a tribute to the legacy of Ramsey Lewis and is sure to appeal to longtime fans as well as those new to the jazz scene.