Only a little over a year old at the time of recording, this incarnation of the Ramsey Lewis Trio -- Ramsey Lewis, Cleveland Eaton, and Maurice White (later of Earth, Wind & Fire) -- were well on their way to the pristine and symbiotic gel that would define their style. They were, however, still undergoing that process when they laid down this "live" set at San Francisco's Basin Street West club in July 1967. It's that somewhat formative vibe that makes this particular performance such a complete and utter joy. Dancing in the Street is this trio's recorded debut and, across a wide range of covers and styles, it's a captivating portrait of contemporary jazz. The title track, a cover of the Martha & the Vandellas R&B classic, is so smooth and stylish that it nearly outshines the original. "Django," meanwhile, is a delightful tribute to the Belgian Gypsy musician Django Reinhardt. Lewis pays further homage to the greats across his cover of the Billy Taylor classic "Mood for Mendes." Also of note is the Ramsey Lewis Trio's rendition of the country song "You Don't Know Me." Originally a hit for Jerry Vale in 1956, it was revisited in 1960 by Lenny Welch and again in 1962 by Ray Charles, and it's from that great bluesman's version that Lewis took his cue with this wonderful jam. These three musicians are a joy to hear, and it's within their far-reaching vision, and the effortless incorporation of so many styles into contemporary jazz, that they were -- and remain -- among the genre's finest.
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AllMusic Review by Amy Hanson