Simple Pleasures

Ramsey Lewis / Nancy Wilson

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Simple Pleasures Review

by Jonathan Widran

Longtime fans of these two jazz legends may know that they met originally in the early '60s as clients of the same manager; and recorded their first duet album in 1984, Two of Us, which was produced by Stanley Clarke. Based on the wonderful piano-vocal rapport (with brilliant horn arrangements courtesy of Llew Matthews) on this disc and 2002's Meant To Be, it's a good thing that Ramsey Lewis and Nancy Wilson caught up with each other in 2001, when Wilson played the Ravinia Festival (Lewis serves as Artistic Director). Simple Pleasures features both vocals and instrumentals with a wide range of dynamics, from his romantic but too subtle piano melody on "In My Life," to Wilson's fiery belting over a sea of snazzy horns on "Give Me Something Real." It's great to hear her let loose, but the slower, sensual side of her vocal prowess (on tunes like "Lost Up in Loving You") is even more inviting. They choose their material wisely, from the hip classic pop of Debarge's "All This Love" to "God Bless The Child," which they do in a late night, torchy style. The best of the five, Lewis' only performance is the swinging trio rendition of the R&B classic "Ooh Child," which takes the original melody in fast and furious directions. Let's hope the conversation between them continues indefinitely.

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