Lost but not least! Webster Lewis – You Deserve To Dance (Epic)
I remember the first time I got to hear this jam. It was… back in the day. Soon after its release at a famous Parisian record shop called Champs-Disques. There, a salesman by the likes of Gérard Zanotto who’s become a friend since, used to prepare some tunes for me to listen to. On the top of the stack happened to be Webster Lewis’ album ‘8 For The 80’s’ and its opening cut under the form of the aforementioned.
I got instantly caught by its uplifting flow, blending those typical Disco strings over a blowing funky bass-driven rhythm part courtesy of Nathan Watts along with Wah Wah Watson on rhythmic guitar and Herbie Hancock on clavinets. And I’m not even talking about the vocal arrangements givin’ the whole some irresistible feeling.
I still tend to think Lewis would have deserved a way better recognition for this. Alas, History tends to show how it’s full of examples of top quality jams which, for various reasons, never managed to get the right exposure.
I couldn’t resist though givin’ it a mention. For the ones of you who’ve never heard it. As as a cool reminder hopefully for those of you familiar with it. With your appreciation, as usual, more than welcome on these shores…
Born in Baltimore, MD, Webster Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University before completing a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music.
He started playing Jazz with Bill Evans and Tony Williams. Eventually dropping his first release, ‘Live At Club 7’, in 1971.
Webster Lewis relocated to Los Angeles, CA in the mid-70’s. He then signed a record deal with Epic, jumping into Disco Music. He released 4 albums for the label between 1976 and 1981 with ‘8 For The 80’s’ being his third one, co-produced with Herbie Hancock.
He’s also responsible for The Love Unlimited Orchestra Presents Mr. Webster Lewis ‘Welcome Aboard’ album which he co-produced with Barry White back in 1981.
Last but not least, he made himself quite a reputation as an arranger and a producer. Most likely for Gwen McCrae with the memorable ‘Keep The Fire Burning’. And also Michael Wycoff‘s famous ‘Looking Up To You’. A cut which Zhané sampled back in 1993 on ‘Hey Mr DJ’.
Lewis also wrote two movie soundtracks (‘The Hearse’ and ‘The Sky Is Grey’). He then left the record business, making a successful career in the field of TV commercials.
He sadly died in Barryville, NY on Nov. 20, 2002 as a result of diabetes.
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