Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis started to make a name for himself in 1950s Chicago and hit the big time in 1965 with his recording of the song “The In Crowd,” which earned him his first Grammy. For decades, he’s been a prolific musician and composer, with more than 80 albums and seven gold records to his name.
At 81, he’s still as active as ever. He’s the artistic director for Ravinia’s Jazz at Ravinia series, and he tours widely. On Friday, April 7, he’ll be appearing with a group of piano players at Symphony Center for tribute show to another jazz legend, Oscar Peterson. Morning Shift talks to Ramsey Lewis about that show, the highlights in his long career and why, though he didn’t like The Beatles at first, he eventually warmed up to their music and even recorded his own unique versions of some of the band’s songs.