A new album of Beatles classics recorded by Ramsey Lewis is being released shortly after the piano legend’s passing.
The solo piano album is the first volume of recordings taken from Lewis’s Saturday Salon live-stream series he started during the pandemic. It’ll be available Friday, Sept. 23, now that the distributor has moved the release date up due to “overwhelming demand.”
Lewis, the three-time Grammy-winning jazz musician who had a crossover pop hit with The In Crowd, died on Sept. 12 at 87.
The Beatles Songbook: The Saturday Salon Series, Volume One includes many of the British group’s greatest hits carefully chosen for their instrumentation and arrangements, including Hey Jude, Blackbird, A Hard Day’s Night, Yesterday and Let It Be.
Recorded at his Chicago home with a single microphone on the piano, The Beatles Songbook is an inspired DIY project motivated by the closing of concert venues during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. These songs are culled from hourlong sets he offered on the last Saturday of every month.
When he recorded the songs, Lewis admitted that it took him a while to understand what made the Beatles special.
“I couldn’t figure out why everybody was going crazy,” he said. “I didn’t think they would last very long with their bubblegum songs. But their songs evolved and they became more interesting. Oh, I said, now they have a catalogue of songs that can stand up as standards that are fun to play and fun to solo on. Their music has been recorded by symphonies and orchestras, rock bands, jazz bands. I don’t know any other pop act whose music has been recorded across the board like this.”
During an incredible 66-year career, Lewis recorded more than 80 albums and received five gold records. He was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2007.