04.21.14 @

Three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, known as “The Great Performer,” and singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli have created the ultimate Nat King Cole tribute titled “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” Lewis and Pizzarelli will perform for one night only at Nebraska’s Home for the Arts, the Lied Center for Performing Arts on April 23 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available at LiedCenter.org.

“Nat King Cole is one of the most iconic performers in history,” said Bill Stephan, Executive Director of the Lied Center. “It seems only natural that two of today’s most celebrated jazz performers would join forces and pay homage to Cole’s numerous hits including ‘Route 66,’ ‘Mona Lisa,’ ‘Unforgettable’ and many more.”

Nat King Cole broke the pop barrier with his smoky, smooth vocals, stringing along a huge number of solid hits right after his first “Straighten Up and Fly Right” soared up the charts in 1943. As a singer, he was called “the best friend a song ever had,” but he was essentially a jazz performer at heart. Even those later tracks crafted for the pop charts belie a piano technique, vocal phrasings, and on-the-mark orchestration that are indebted to his early roots in jazz. Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli have crafted a tribute to the titan of fifties vocal pop, from his hits along with those singular tracks of sophisticated cool jazz that have influenced their own careers.

Composer, pianist and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis has been referred to as “The Great Performer,” a title reflecting his performance style and musical selections which display his early gospel playing and classical training along with his love of jazz and other musical forms. A native Chicagoan, Mr. Lewis represents the great diversity of music for which Chicago is noted. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) says, “It’s a mark of how much Lewis understands what people want from a piece of music that he remains one of jazz’s most broadly popular figures, yet still holds on to an unshakeable degree of respectability. “

Lewis first captivated fans with his first album “Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen of Swing” by the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956. By 1965, he was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with “The In Crowd,” “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.” He has three GRAMMY® Awards and seven gold records to his credit. He was awarded the 2006 Stellar Award for Best Gospel Instrumental Album, “With One Voice” presented in January 2007. He was also the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in January 2007. Lewis has received five honorary doctorate degrees and numerous other accolades.

The Seattle Times says John Pizzarelli, world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer “Remains a master of Nat King Cole cool.” For Pizzarelli, his hero and foundation was Nat King Cole and the comparison to his iconic trio is the highest of compliments.

“I’ve always said in my concerts that Nat King Cole is why I do what I do.” But Pizzarelli adds, “We aren’t trying to copy him. His sound was singular and inspired. I’ve always said we’re an extension, a 21st century version of what that group was.” In fact, Pizzarelli devoted his RCA albums “Dear Mr. Cole” and “P.S. Mr. Cole” to music made famous by the beloved song stylist.

Pizzarelli has performed on the country's most popular national television shows such as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Conan Show,” “Live With Regis & Kelly,” “The Tony Danza Show,” “The CBS Early Show,” Fox News Channel, the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and the Macy’s

Thanksgiving Day Parade. Pizzarelli received the 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival, joining a select group of past winners including Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett and Harry Connick, Jr.

This presentation is made possible in part with generous support from Ace Rent to Own and the Ruth Amen Endowment.

Ticket Information

Tickets to Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli’s “Straighten Up and Fly Right” The Nat King Cole Tribute performance on April 23 are available at LiedCenter.org, at the Box Office on 12th and R Streets, or by phone at 402-472-4747. Tickets start at just $36 for adults, $18 for students.