On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, the Highland Park High School opened its 25th “Focus on the Arts” festival with an evening tribute to jazz pianist and composer, Ramsey Lewis, and a concert performance by the Ramsey Lewis Quartet. The Ravinia Festival sponsored the opening night concert as one of several special events this year to celebrate Lewis’ 80th birthday. Lewis serves as Ravinia’s Artistic Director of Jazz. Pianist/composer Paul Johnston, an alumnus of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, performed his new tribute to Ramsey Lewis with pianist Alexis Lombre, an alumna of the Ravinia Jazz Scholars program. Also as part of the tribute, the Highland Park High School Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra premiered a new orchestration of Lewis’ greatest hits arranged by Andrew Chukerman and commissioned by Ravinia Festival.
This is the second tribute to Ramsey Lewis held in recent months that Alexis Lombre has participated in. On September 17, 2014, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs held the inaugural “Fifth Star Awards” ceremony, a free public celebration at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park honoring exemplary Chicago artists and arts institutions who have made significant contributions in arts and culture. Along with Ravinia Festival CEO and President, Welz Kauffman and Jazz Vocalist, Kurt Elling, Alexis was selected to be a part of the tribute to Ramsey Lewis who was an inaugural Fifth Star honoree. She performed a piano duet, “Ramsey Lewis Medley” with Welz Kauffman, which was followed by Kurt Elling’s performance of his arrangement of “In Crowd”, one of Lewis’ most popular hits.
Alexis Lombre will also perform in the upcoming “Tribute to Frank Sinatra & Ramsey Lewis” on Saturday, May 16, 2015 in the Ravinia Festival’s Bennett-Gordon Hall in Highland Park, IL. This event, which is sold out, will honor Lewis’ 80th birthday and what would have been Sinatra’s 100th.