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Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis to bring ‘joy to the world’ in Miami concert at Arsht Center

Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis
Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis

Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis found music through classic sibling jealousy.

At 4 years old, the renowned composer heard his parents offering his older sister piano lessons. He wanted in.

“Whatever Lucille got, I wanted that, too,” he says.

Lewis soon realized, though, that piano playing required lots of practice, which bored him after a while. He stuck with it and started playing at church. By age 12, he was smitten.

“That’s when I started to love to practice,” he says. “I fell in love with the sounds and the feel of the piano.”

Friday night, Lewis will play in his quintet and join Grammy-winning singers Gregory Porter and Lisa Fischer at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts, as part of the Jazz Roots series.

NPR recently dubbed Porter “the next great jazz singer.” Fischer, a widely successful vocalist known for her range and work as a backup singer for Luther Vandross, Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones, was featured in the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary 20 Feet from Stardom.

Titled “Celebration,” Friday’s show will be an evening of jazz, peppered with a few holiday favorites, according to Lewis.

Chicago-born Lewis, 79, says he looks forward to coming to Miami to take in the diversity of the local scene and enjoy some warmer winter weather.

“I haven’t been to Miami in a few years” he said. “I love the mixture in cultures, various ethnic groups there, various styles of foods and different kinds of exciting music.”

He plans to debut some new work Friday night, along with some tunes specifically for the South Florida audience and holiday music.

“We’re going to play some new music, for sure, that hasn’t been recorded,” he said. “And then music that I think the people of Miami will love.”

Larry Rosen, Jazz Roots co-creator and producer, said in a statement he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than with “one of the greatest legends of all times.”

“Not only does Ramsey Lewis bring ‘joy to the world’ with his music, his vast contributions as an educator truly embrace the meaning behind our Jazz Roots concert series and educational program,” he said.

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Jazz Roots

Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis and singers Gregory Porter and Lisa Fischer perform 8 p.m. Friday at the Knight Concert Hall at Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.

Tickets range from $25 to $150 and can be purchased by calling 305-949-6722 or online at www.arshtcenter.org.

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