HIGHMOUNT, New York — Renowned jazz piano great Ramsey Lewis headlines the opening weekend of the Catskill Mountain Jazz Series at the Belleayre Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. New York City-based singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer KJ Denhert has been called a “triple threat force of nature,” kicks off the series with a show in the Belleayre Jazz Club on Friday, Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. Her urban jazz style sells out the midnight show in one of Greenwich Village’s famous jazz clubs every weekend.
Chicago native, composer, pianist and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis represents the great diversity of music for which the Windy City is noted. He has been referred to as “the great performer,” which reflects his performance style and musical selections that display his early gospel playing and classical training, along with his love of jazz and other musical forms.
When Lewis released his first album, Ramsey Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing, in 1956. However, it was 1965’s The In Crowd that truly put Lewis on the map, with the single reaching No. 5 on the pop charts and the album reaching No. 2. By 1966, Lewis was one of the country’s most successful jazz pianists, with hits like Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water as well as “The In Crowd.”
He has three Grammy awards and seven gold records to his name. His most recent recognition came in the form of the 2006 Stellar Award for Best Gospel Instrumental Album for With One Voice.
In addition to recording and performing, Lewis currently hosts “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show,” a radio show on a Chicago smooth jazz station that is syndicated nationwide.
Lewis serves on the Board of Trustees for the Merit School of Music in Chicago and is the artistic director of jazz for the world-famous Ravina Music Festival. In 2005, the Ramsey Lewis Foundation was created to help connect at-risk children to the world of music.
With her unique blend of urban-folk, jazz, R&B, blues, funk and pop, KJ Denhert has been amassing something of a cult following for three decades. While not easy to pigeonhole, Denhert calls her music style urban folk and jazz. She got her start touring the U.S., Canada and Europe during the 1980s as lead guitarist and vocalist for the all-female pop/rock band Fire. When the group disbanded, Denhert became a financial analyst with plans to finance her dream to write and record her own music. She produced her first album, Songs from the Casa Del Wacko, in 1995 with a band known as the Cyclone Sisters, and in 2003 left her day job to focus solely on producing music.
With influences varying from Chaka Khan and Robert Flack to Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel and James Taylor, the list of artists Denhert has been compared to is long and diverse, and includes such acts as the Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Tracy Chapman and Sarah McLachlan, as well as neo-soul artists like Jill Scott, Alicia Keyes, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.
Tickets for the Ramsey Lewis show range from $65-$45 for reserved seating and $15 for lawn seats. The KJ Denhert show in the Belleayre Jazz Club is general admission with all tickets $20. The Catskill Mountain Jazz Series continues on Friday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. when Ken Peplowski plays the Belleayre Jazz Club. General admission tickets are $20.
On Saturday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. the series wraps up with “Two Jazz Diamonds,” a 75th birthday celebration for David “Fathead” Newman and Curtis Fuller with Cedar Walton, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Cobb and special guests. Reserved tickets are $65-$45 and $15 for lawn seats.
Saturday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m.: Country Superstar Vince Gill. Reserved $75-$45, $20 lawn.
Sunday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m.: Kaleidoscope – A Children’s Classical Music Experience featuring The Teaching Artists Ensemble of the New York Philharmonic. Free.
Saturday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m.: Singer/Songwriter/Movie and TV Star Chris Isaak. Reserved $75-$45, $20 lawn.
Ticket for all shows are now on sale via Ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster Express: 866 448-7849.
For additional information, please call 800 942-6904, ext. 344 or visit: www.belleayremusic.org. The festival’s e-mail address is: [email]email@example.com[/email].
For information on where to stay, dine, shop or to simply enjoy the great outdoors when you’re in town for the Belleayre Music Festival, please visit: www.catskillhighpeaks.com, www.ulstertourism.info or www.greatwesterncatskills.com.
Belleayre Music Festival concerts are held on the grounds of Belleayre Mountain in Highmount.
Belleayre Mountain is located in the heart of New York’s Catskill Mountain region. The area is located just off Route 28 and is 37 miles west of Thruway Exit 19 at Kingston; 55 miles southeast of Oneonta on Route 28; 40 miles from the Route 17 exit at Roscoe; and 95 miles southwest of Albany and just two hours north of NYC.