“Tribute to Ramsey Lewis: Gentleman of Jazz” Concert Kicks Off the City’s Millennium Park Summer Music Series June 22 at 6:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion

June 13, 2023

DCASE Communications    dcase@cityofchicago.org


Orbert Davis, The Urban Knights, Donald Lawrence & The Co, and More Pay Tribute to Chicago’s Own Jazz Legend with
Free Concert

Special Pre-Show Event: “Panel Discussion: Ramsey Lewis: Gentleman of Jazz” to take place at Chicago Cultural Center,
June 22 at 4:30pm


CHICAGO—The City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) celebrate the first concert of the 10-part, free Millennium Park Summer Music Series with the “Tribute to Ramsey Lewis: A Gentleman of Jazz” concert, Thursday, June 22 at 6:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (gates open at 5pm). Celebrating the legacy of one of the most iconic jazz pianists of all time, the evening features performances by Orbert Davis, The Urban Knights, Donald Lawrence & The Co., The Ramsey Lewis Legacy Band, Monty Alexander Trio featuring Steve Jordan, Thaddeus Tukes Trio, Santita Jackson, and more. Orbert Davis presents a special string arrangement of Lewis’s iconic work, Les Fleur. The concert is hosted by Mark Ruffin of Sirius XM’s Real Jazz.

Also on June 22, guests can enjoy a free pre-show event, “Panel Discussion: Ramsey Lewis: Gentleman of Jazz,” from 4:30–5:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. The panel features a 45-minute discussion with Moderator and Program Director of Real Jazz, Sirius XM’s Mark Ruffin, family members Frayne Lewis and Robert Lewis, Author Aaron Cohen, Columbia College Chicago Professor of Instruction Scott Hall, and Musician Henry Johnson. The panel will be sharing stories and discussing the indelible impact of Lewis’s life and work and will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A session. The discussion takes place in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater (2nd floor). Admission is free. RSVPs are encouraged, RSVP to the pre-show event at this event link. More information on the concert and panel discussion at Chicago.gov/RamseyLewis.

Ramsey Lewis (1935–2022) was one of the most prolific jazz pianists of all time, with more than eighty albums to his name. A National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Top 10 hitmaker, and winner of three Grammys, Lewis also hosted popular television and radio shows that honored the history of jazz music. He was not only influential for many modern jazz artists but compositions he created decades ago have been sampled and can be heard across R&B and hip-hop. Through it all, Lewis remained grounded, never leaving behind his roots in Chicago.

The “Tribute to Ramsey Lewis” concert is supported by 90.9fm WDCB and the South Side Jazz Coalition.

The popular Millennium Park Summer Music Series (select Mondays and Thursdays, June 22 – August 21) features some of the biggest names in music throughout the summer on the Jay Pritzker Stage. Following the Tribute to Ramsey Lewis (June 22) is Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra (June 26, 6:30pm); Big Freedia (July 13, 6:30pm), Yemi Alade (July 17, 6:30pm); Stephen Marley (July 20, 6:30pm); Kurt Vile and the Violators (July 24, 6:30pm); Shemekia Copeland (July 31, 6:30pm) and more. Access the full Music Series schedule at MillenniumPark.org.


June 22 Performer Bios

Orbert Davis 
Emmy-Award winning trumpeter, composer and educator Orbert Davis is co-founder, conductor and artistic director of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP), a 55+ piece symphonic jazz orchestra dedicated to bringing together audiences of diverse backgrounds through multi-genre projects. Over the past 30 years, Mr. Davis’ mission-driven career has evolved successfully from ‘making it in the music industry’ to being a true leader in Chicago’s arts and culture community. He is widely respected in not only all things JAZZ, but also for the distinctive ability to use his musical talents to make positive impacts on society through arts education and advocacy.

The Urban Knights are an all-star jazz, R&B and funk band that consists of Chicago’s finest musicians – Grammy nominated guitarist Henry Johnson who has toured the world with Hank Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson. Drummer Charles Heath who has played with Donald Byrd and McCoy Tyner. Bassist Joshua Ramos who has played with Philip Bailey, Marquis Hill and Willie Pickens and Keyboardist Tim Gant who has toured with George Howard, Art Porter, Will Downing, Rick Braun and En Vogue. The Urban Knights were also jazz legend Ramsey Lewis’ backing band for the past decade.

Ramsey Lewis Legacy Band is comprised of the majority of the outstanding musicians who have played in Ramsey Lewis’s bands over the past few decades including Henry Johnson Musical Director (guitar), Mike Logan Musical Director (keys), Steve Cobb (drums), Chuck Webb (bass), Tim Gant (keys), Josh Ramos (bass), Charles Heath (drums). And Byron Gregory (guitar).

The Monty Alexander Trio featuring Steve Jordan
Grammy nominated pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. Documented on more than 75 recordings and cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing). On bass is Hassan Shakur, who at age twelve became the bassist for the Craig Hundley Trio, appearing on television shows such as the Today Show and Johnny Carson. In addition to performing with his father, Gerald Wiggins, Sr., Shakur he has performed with numerous other artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Herb Ellis and many others. Special guest Steve Jordan is an American musical director, producer, songwriter, and musician. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was a member of the bands for the television shows Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman. Since the mid 1980s, Jordan has also been a member of the X-Pensive Winos, the side project of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Jordan and Richards have been production and songwriting partners on many of Richards’s solo works. In 2005, he became a member of the John Mayer Trio.

Donald Lawrence & The Co.
Multifaceted artist Donald Lawrence is the guiding force behind such No. 1 hits as “Encourage Yourself,” “Back II Eden” and “The Blessing of Abraham.” Equally at home in both the inspirational and contemporary arenas, the multiple Grammy and Stellar Award winner has collaborated with a diverse roster, including such marquee names as Karen Clark Sheard, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, En Vogue and Mary J. Blige. Lawrence’s musical passion continues to manifest itself through various pursuits. He has written and produced for the legendary Clark Sisters, Clark Sheard, Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker (including No. 1 single “Souled Out”), among others.

Thaddeus Tukes 
Presented as the “World’s best vibraphonist” by World Expo 2020 in Dubai, composer and percussionist Thaddeus Tukes honors the legacy of the vibraphone within the jazz tradition and beyond. His virtuosity and creativity “brings poetry to the vibraphone” (Chicago Tribune, 2019), which has captivated audiences from Carnegie Hall in New York to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Thaddeus says he is a proud practitioner of the “Chicago Vibe,” and hails his hometown as the foundation of the modern jazz aesthetic. The future of the jazz tradition has arrived, and Thaddeus Tukes is at the forefront.

Santita Jackson
Santita Jackson is a multi-talented communicator on radio, television and on stage and is the newly-minted host of “The SANTITA JACKSON SHOW”, on the nation’s largest Progressive Talk Radio station, Chicago’s WCPT 820. Her credits include on-air contributor on FOX News; acclaimed singer; television and radio host; producer; writer; actress; and, motivational speaker. Santita uses her voice to address the political, social, cultural and religious issues of our time and effectively communicates her views while reaching multitudes of audiences around the globe. Her talent exceeds expectations and crosses genres while removing ideological divides.

Mark Ruffin 
Mark Ruffin is an American broadcaster, producer, and writer. He has won the regional Chicago / Midwest Emmy Awards two times, and has been nominated for a Grammy Award. Ruffin has been the Program Director/On-Air host for Sirius XM’s Real Jazz channel since 2007.


Millennium Park
Discover a world-class collection of architecture, landscape design and art that provides the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, interactive art and family activities. In Millennium Park, you’ll find a spectacular gathering spot located in the heart of the city, a destination for all Chicagoans and visitors alike. Millennium Park is the #1 attraction in the Midwest and among the top 10 most-visited sites in the U.S. It is also the anchor of an urban cultural campus (Millennium Park Campus) that includes the Chicago Cultural Center, Maggie Daley Park and The Art Institute of Chicago. Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. The Park is open daily during the summer from 6am to 11pm. Plan your visit at MillenniumPark.org; follow us on Facebook (@MillenniumParkChicago), Twitter and Instagram (@Millennium_Park); and join the conversation on social media using #MillenniumPark.


Food and Beverage
Eleven North Hospitality, the concessionaire of Millennium Park, offers a broad range of food and beverage options for Park visitors at Millennium Hall (below the Cloud Gate sculpture) featuring Casa Bonita, a Mexican restaurant and Napolita Pizzeria, serving Neapolitan cuisine and American bar fare with local beer from their own Double Clutch Brewery. For the Chicago Blues Festival (June 8-11, 2023) they will host a BBQ pop-up, “Wally’s BBQ Pit” in the North Promenade Tent. For menus and more information, visit millenniumhallchicago.com.

Millennium Park guests can also enjoy Momentum Coffee, located in the center of the Park directly under Cloud Gate. Momentum Coffee believes coffee has the power to empower people. Stop by to enjoy the best coffee, delicious pastries, Chicago hot dogs, smoothies and more.


Park Safety and Security

Millennium Park is a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

Again this summer, guests will be required to enter all Pritzker Pavilion events (concerts, films and more) through special entrances off Randolph and Monroe streets. Visit Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and other attractions via entrances off Michigan Avenue. More information at Plan Your Visit at MillenniumPark.org.

Also continuing in 2023, guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (21 years and older) after 6pm, Thursday through Sunday — and may be asked to present a valid ID. The adult must be present for the duration of the visit and may escort up to four young people. For more information, visit Millennium Park Rules.

As in previous years, outside alcohol is not allowed for the following festivals: Chicago Blues Festival (June 8–11, 2023) and Chicago Jazz Festival (August 31 – September 3, 2023). For these events, alcohol at various price points may be purchased inside the venue. Before visiting, please be advised of these other Prohibited Items.

For more details, see Attending an Event.


Parking and Transportation
Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. The Park is open 6am–11pm daily. The accessible drop off point is 201 E. Randolph. For the latest news and events, visit millenniumpark.org, like Millennium Park on Facebook and follow @Millennium_Park on Twitter and Instagram. Visitors are encouraged to take CTA to Millennium Park. To plan your route, visit transitchicago.com. For those parking, Millennium Park Garages are located at Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive, Grant Park North Garage at 25 N. Michigan Ave. and Grant Park South Garage at 325 S. Michigan Ave. Pre-purchase parking at millenniumgarages.com and save up to 50% off drive-up rates.


For information about American Sign Language, Open Captioning and other accessibility services at events please visit Accessibility at MillenniumPark.org.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city — to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city’s most iconic festivals, markets, events, and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city — serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago. For details, visit visit Chicago.gov/DCASE and stay connected via our newsletters and social media.


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