TribLIVE

| AandE

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pianist's Craftsmen's Guild shows light on 'Sun Goddess,' heavy on spiritual variety

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, March 14, 2014, 9:36 p.m.
 

Ramsey Lewis gave his listeners at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild more — and less — than he promised.

At two Friday shows, billed as “The Sun Goddess Tour,” the pianist played only three songs from the “Sun Goddess” album, which was a Billboard chart-topper in 1974.

In doing so, he offered more of a variety of songs, from a great collection of spirituals gathered in his younger days playing in church to a solo reading of John Coltrane's “Dear Lord.”

Less, indeed, can equal more.

Lewis and the band never got around to playing “Sun Goddess” until the second encore — after a collection of the pianist's famous hits, such as “Hang On Sloopy” and “The In Crowd.”

While the quintet, assembled specifically for this project, opened the first show with “Hot Dawgitt” from the album, the show never took on the sense of a tribute to the recording. A good decision. That album was built not only around Lewis' playing, but also the horns of Earth Wind & Fire.

This band uses two decks of Tim Gant's electronic keyboards to suggest some of the horn and string arrangements of the album, but it has only a mild similarity.

In fact, the songs from the “Sun Goddess” album had a rather mechanical nature that detracted from them.

One piece from the album that fully succeeded, though, was Stevie Wonder's “Living in the City,” which featured a great, soulful solo from guitarist Henry Johnson.

The other end of the selections worked much better. Lewis blended Coltrane's “Dear Lord” with his own “Blessings” to create an outing that was nearly as spiritual as the church medley he did later. Lightening matters, he did a easy-going version of the Brazilian-flavored “Bahia.”

Lewis's solos frequently had cadenza-like section where he explored many different melodies and moods.

Bassist Joshua Ramos also stood out in one section of the spiritual medley when he used a bow to explore some of the deepest notes his upright can offer.

By staying away from a replay of “Sun Goddess,” the band put together a show that was a better statement of itself.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Music

  1. Luke Bryan’s country-music charm not outlaw style
  2. Pop band One Direction is moving forward with tour stop at Heinz Field
  3. Out of the Blue rediscovers winning musical formula
  4. Graham Nash’s summer break ... is going out on tour solo
  5. Van Halen plays plenty of favorites in First Niagara show
  6. Review: Compelling new opera, ‘Fallout,’ revisits 1960s, dangers of pesticides