Bossa Nova

Ramsey Lewis

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Bossa Nova Review

by Jason Ankeny

Several months before the breakout success of Astrud Gilberto's "The Girl from Ipanema" introduced much of the world to the bossa nova sound, the Ramsey Lewis Trio embraced the sunkissed Rio groove to create one of its most unusual and engaging LPs. Cut with a small corps of Brazilian musicians for added authenticity, the album is nevertheless first and foremost a showcase for the remarkable rhythm battery of bassist Eldee Young and drummer Redd Holt, who adapt to the bossa beat as naturally as if it emerged from their south side of Chicago, not the southern hemisphere. Lewis' pop sensibilities are especially pronounced here, and he even recruits vocalists Carmen Costa and Josef Paulo for a pair of cuts -- at the same time, his piano work is particularly sharp and soulful, with an emphasis on economy that keeps the music as lithe and lean as the Ipanema girl herself.