Ramsey Lewis

Dance of the Soul

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One of his more memorable GRP dates of the 1990s, Dance of the Soul finds Ramsey Lewis playing mostly acoustic piano on a variety of material. The CD's main focus is accessible, yet creative, jazz-pop, though Lewis detours into gospel on "Mercy and Grace," classical on the acoustic solo piano piece "Cante Hondo (Deep Song)," and jazzy R&B on a remake of Teena Marie's 1981 gem "Portuguese Love" (which features the big-voiced singer Donica Henderson). The Chicagoan has some nice solos on melodic instrumentals like "Sub Dude," "Cancion," and the Joe Sample-ish "Love's Serenade," all of which demonstrate that commercial jazz-pop can be creative as well as highly accessible. In fact, these are the sorts of instrumentals one should use to turn pop and R&B fans on to jazz -- they're easy to absorb, but have a lot more substance than the type of mindless "elevator Muzak" that many pop instrumentalists favored in the 1990s. Although not a masterpiece, Dance of the Soul is a decent effort that has more ups than downs.

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