Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Ramsey Lewis Trio: The "In" Crowd

Well, I spoke to my good friend Ken Miller on the phone yesterday and he asked the question, “What happened, did you quit doing the blog?” Well, I will have to be honest that I’ve been very busy and the blog took a back seat to other priorities in my life. With the gentle prodding from my friend, I felt I needed to get on the stick and write something – and soon. October was pretty much a wash for me, so now that I am (hopefully) back on target, I think I will motivate myself to try and keep up.

It’s TV Thursday and I noticed that one of the Nikon commercials that featured Ashton Kutcher of late featured a hit instrumental from the Ramsey Lewis Trio. “The ‘In’ Crowd” was a top five American hit during the height of Beatlemania and the British Invasion of 1965. The LP of the same name peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.

The trio featured Ramsey Lewis on piano, bassist Eldee Young, and drummer Isaac "Redd" Holt. Young and Holt left Lewis in 1966 and formed Young-Holt Trio with Don Walker on piano. When Walker was replaced by Ken Chaney, they changed their name to Young-Holt Unlimited and had a #3 hit instrumental in 1968 with “Soulful Strut.”

Lewis’ version was a higher charting cover of Dobie Gray’s hit from the same year. Gray’s original version charted at #13, while The Ramsey Lewis Trio hit #5. It also won the Grammy for the best jazz performance by a small group. The single and album were originally issued on Chess Records’ imprint – “Argo Records.”

Although Chess had used the name for ten years, they changed the label’s identity in 1965 because of a competing label in the United Kingdom had already used the Argo brand. Later pressings of the album and single were released in 1965 under Cadet Records. The Cadet imprint was suspended in 1974 and later reissues were issued on Chess Records.

The inspiration for their jazzy rendition is credited to a suggestion by a coffee shop waitress that the trio should record the song. If this is true, then the rest is history about this classic jazzy hit.

Nikon Coolpix Commercial

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