Its hard to think of another jazz musician, outside of George Benson, who has released as many high level pop jazz recordings as Ramsey Lewis. Ramsey is probably one of the top pianists of the modern jazz era, but he has always been more of a crowd pleaser than an adventurer, but that doesn’t mean his playing is light weight at all. “Ivory Pyramid”, released in 1992, is typical of Lewis’ repertoire with masterful renditions of tunes he wrote plus a few covers.
Although Ramsey Lewis gained his initial fame as a jazz pianist, many of his records (including this one) are really more in the R&B field. The soul vocals, acid jazz rhythms and tinkling piano result in superior background music and there are some good moments (such as Grover Washington, Jr.'s soprano on "Sun Goddess 2000") but Ramsey Lewis is capable of much better. A strictly commercial effort that succeeds more as dance music than as creative jazz.
Ramsey Lewis staked his claim to fame with The In Crowd, an instrumental version of Dobie Gray's Top 40 hit. He also was one of the first soul jazz icons of the mid-'60s, based on the strength of the sales of this recording, done over three days during a club date at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington, D.C.
Those shocked or even dismayed by the lack of jazz on 1975's Don't It Feel Good would no doubt be pleasantly surprised by this. Released in 1976 and produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney, Salongo offers a more substantial look at African and Latin styles. Around this time Lewis always had the good fortune to be supported by good bands and excellent side players like Verdine White, Ernie Watts, Jorge Strunz, as well as many others.