Ramsey Lewis Trio: Ramsey Lewis (piano); Eldee Young (bass, cello); Red Holt (drums).
Recorded live at the Bohemian Caverns, Washington, D.C. on May 13-15, 1965. Originally released on Argo (757). Includes liner notes by Al Clarke and Barry Alfonso.
Digitally remastered by Doug Schwartz, MCA Studios, North Hollywood.
Soul-jazz pioneer Ramsey Lewis's 1965 hit "The In Crowd" made the pianist a crossover smash, connecting with the pop, rock, and jazz crowds simultaneously. His simple, bluesy, swinging style is infectious and immediately accessible. One of the key aspects of THE IN CROWD is its party atmosphere--you get a real feel for the interaction between Lewis and the live audience, and you can hear him humming along with the piano and bass lines.
While some jazz purists of the day condemned Lewis for what they saw as pandering to the masses with his instrumental versions of pop songs and his preference for blues-based modality over complex bebop-derived harmonies, time has shown the wiser. Today, THE IN CROWD sounds like an extension of the hard-bop era's no-frills, groove-oriented aesthetic, not to mention a foreshadowing of what would emerge decades down the road as acid jazz.