Chicago-born-and-based piano legend Ramsey Lewis can remember a time in the 1950s when he was a young, eager musician looking for new opportunities to express himself.
Playing at clubs throughout the city with his first trio, he couldn't wait to strut his stuff for, and garner encouragement from, legends passing through town like Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. The young musicians on Urban Knights III must have felt similarly anointed.
Reminded of the Stan Kenton quote, "When you get to the top, don't forget to send the elevator back down," Lewis has long sought to give back to the community which fostered his own creative development. While the first two Lewis-led Urban Knights projects featured the pianist joyfully fusing R&B and jazz with all-star contemporaries, his beautifully realized plan for the latest offering in the critically acclaimed series was to encourage and cultivate local talent by assembling a band of promising up-and-coming jazz musicians from the Chicago area alongside smooth jazz and urban icons.
--- from the official Urban Knights website