Artists | Folly Jazz Series

The Living Legend, Ramsey Lewis

Who better to kick off the longest running jazz season in Kansas City's most historic theater than the living legend, Ramsey Lewis?

On Thursday, September 27th, Ramsey Lewis is coming to the Folly Theater, in what may be one of his final tours, along with the Urban Knights. The show will begin at 8 PM and will run for 60 minutes straight as Ramsey and the Urban Knights performing classic hits and new works. Tickets are still available at


The iconic Ramsey Lewis opens the Folly Theater’s 36th season of the Folly Jazz Series. After “trying out retirement“, Lewis was bored and wanted to get back to performing. Join us in welcoming him and the Urban Knights to the Folly Theater for our season kick-off concert! Lewis is best known as an icon in the contemporary jazz scene, performing on the piano for over 50 years with cross over into the pop & R&B charts.

His 1956 debut album, Ramsey Lewis & His Gentlemen of Jazz, earned the Ramsey Lewis Trio their first gold record and Grammy award for Best Jazz Performance. Lewis has collaborated with several artists over the years, including Maurice White, Earl Klugh, and Dave Koz. As Lewis’ career progressed, he explored other ventures including a syndicated radio show in 2006 called Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. He also hosted a 13-episode broadcast television series in 2006, featuring live performances by jazz greats including Chick Correa, Tony Bennett, and Kurt Elling.

Who are the Urban Knights?

In 1995, Lewis started Urban Knights; a project in which he collaborated with other jazz musicians to expand jazz. The Urban Knights is an all-star jazz, R&B and funk band. The band’s current lineup consists of 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, Willie Pickens and Ann Hampton Callaway. Keyboardist Tim Gant has toured with George Howard, Art Porter, Will Downing, Rick Braun, En Vogue, and The Back Street Boys.

What's Next for Ramsey?

As mentioned earlier, Ramsey Lewis told the Chicago Tribune that after a long tour last year he began considering retirement. “So that’s when I started saying: ‘You know, Jan, we’ve been doing this a while. Maybe this is it.’ ”, he recalls telling his wife, Jan Lewis. In the article, he recounts that by the fifth or sixth day, he started getting antsy. So is he retiring? The answer is unclear, but he shared that he'll at least be cutting back on his travel. So don't miss what may be your last opportunity to see this icon in Kansas City!

TICKETS for Ramsey Lewis and urban knights ARE $20, $30, $40, AND $55
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The Folly Theater thanks it's generous sponsors of the 36th Folly Jazz Series