Weekend Listening Tip: Bill Ramsay

Jim Wilke will devote his Jazz Northwest broadcast on Sunday to a musician who has been the bartitone saxophone anchor in a significant number of great bands and, on baritone and alto, a mainstay of jazz in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s the announcement:

Saxophonist Bill Ramsay is a Northwest treasure who’s been both leader and sideman in dozens of bands, not only in this region but also internationally. He recently played concerts in Brazil with former Count Basie Band members. He’s played with many of the best known bands ever – Basie, Ellington, Goodman, Les Brown, Quincy Jones, Grover Mitchell, Maynard Ferguson and others. He was a regular at Red Kelly’s in both Tumwater and Tacoma, is co-leader of the Ramsay-Kleeb Band, a founding member of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and in the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame.

Bill Ramsey shoutsBill Ramsay shouts encouragement to the front line of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra: Travis Raney, Jay Thomas and Dan Marcus, at Tula’s (photo by Daniel Sheehan)

Now in his 80s, he’s as vital as ever, teaching summer jazz workshops at Jazz Port Townsend, on call as a quick sub with numerous major names, and playing pops concerts with the Seattle Symphony. In this tribute concert two sides of this versatile musician are showcased, his powerful baritone sax soloing and his arrangements for this specially assembled septet. In addition to “Rams” fronting the group, you’ll hear Travis Raney on alto and tenor sax, Jay Thomas, trumpet; Dan Marcus, trombone; John Hansen, piano; Chuck Deardorf, bass; and Greg Williamson, drums. The concert was presented by Earshot Jazz as part of the current Earshot Jazz Festival, which continues through mid-November.

Jazz Northwest is recorded and produced by Jim Wilke exclusively for 88.5 KPLU. The program airs Sundays at 2 PM Pacific time, and a podcast of the program is available at kplu.org following the broadcast.

Despite his refusal to correct the spelling of his last name, Mr. Ramsay and I manage to maintain cordial relations when we meet.

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