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Tequila Mockingbird (song)

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"Tequila Mockingbird"
Single by Ramsey Lewis
from the album Tequila Mockingbird
B-side"My Angel's Smile"
ReleasedFebruary 1978
Format7" single, stereo, mono, promo
GenreJazz, Funk, Soul
Length3:15
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Larry Dunn
Producer(s)Larry Dunn

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"Tequila Mockingbird" is single issued by jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis in Feb 1978 on Columbia Records. The song went on to receive within the UK a significant amount of radio airplay.[1][2][3]

Overview[edit]

"Tequila Mockingbird" was composed and produced by Larry Dunn. The single's b-side was a song called My Angel's smile. Both Tequila Mockingbird and My Angel's Smile came upon Ramsey Lewis's 1977 studio album Tequila Mockingbird.[1]

During a concert at Ronnie Scott's, London, Lewis revealed that Columbia Records came up with the song's title.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Cashbox proclaimed that "the title track is a funky jump which features lead trade-offs between Lewis and Ronnie Laws on soprano sax."[5] Billboard also noted Tequila Mockingbird as a "recommended" single.[6]

Within a review of Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights' 2019 LP "VII" Smooth Jazz Magazine declared that "The album revisits what is possibly his most famous tune, "Tequila Mockingbird."[7]

John Fordham of The Guardian in a review of Lewis' show at Ronnie Scott's, London noted that "Lewis had a close connection with African American superstars Earth, Wind & Fire in the 70s. He soon reminds his audience of those collaborations with an account of "Tequila Mockingbird" (“The label named it,” he announces mock apologetically) in which the Wes Montgomery-like guitarist Henry Johnson and bassist Joshua Ramos set up an infectiously chugging unison hook cushioning a bright Latin-chordal piano melody, while synth player Tim Gant softly mimics a soul-jazz horn section on the accents. Lewis improvises unaccompanied in delicate treble twists, chord-punching rhythm patterns and wry trills before the band clamours back into the hook."[4]

Jackson Sinnenberg of JazzTimes declared in his review of Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights VII that "...An infectious joy extends from every instrument in their reworking of his Tequila Mockingbird, ushered in by Charles Heath’s carnival-worthy marching drum line. As Lewis lays down the lightly swinging rumba groove, keyboardist Tim Gant chimes in with synthesizers above like a celestial fanfare. Henry Johnson drives the band here and elsewhere with ringing, rapid-fire scratch rhythm guitar."[8]

Tim Stenhouse of UKVibe.org proclaimed that "the title track...echo(es) the Earth, Wind & Fire trademark sound..."[9]

Seattle Music Insider wrote: "What a great evening everyone had at Jazz Alley with Ramsey Lewis and Philip Bailey on May 22 (2014). In all my years of going to Jazz Alley, I’ve never seen or heard a crowd so involved with an act – dancing and  singing along during most of the set. Ramsey came on first with his Electric Band, starting off the gig with "Tequila Mockingbird"...".[10]

Live Performances[edit]

For over 40 years, Ramsey Lewis has continued to feature "Tequila Mockingbird" as the opening number in his live shows, which have included Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London, Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, and his show at The Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl, June 2018.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Steve Edwards Soul Show The Fusion Special, Las Vegas PRX radio, highlights "a killer vocal interpretation of the Ramsey Lewis classic "Tequila Mockingbird" by Ms Dee Dee Bridgewater."[17]

Appearances in other media[edit]

During May 2019, The Roots performed a live cover version of "Tequila Mockingbird" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as Jeff Daniels, who was currently appearing in the Broadway show "To Kill A Mockingbird", came out to take the guest seat.[18][19][20][21] In a panel discussion with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on "the show's knack for blending music and comedy, they shared that The "Tonight Show" gang loves seeing guests' reaction to their entrance music."[22]

Cover versions[edit]

Dee Dee Bridgewater recorded a vocal version of "Tequila Mockingbird" with lyrics written by Roxanne Seeman. It was produced by George Duke for her "Bad For Me" album released in 1979.[23]

Bridgewater's version was covered by the Japanese vocal group ITS on their 1980 album "Rainbow".[24][25]

Original and cover versions of "Tequila Mockingbird" have also been included by Ramsey Lewis and Dee Dee Bridgewater upon LPs such as:

  • Ramsey Lewis – The Best of Ramsey Lewis, 1981, CBS Records[26]
  • Ramsey Lewis – The Electric Collection, 1981, Columbia Records[27]
  • Ramsey Lewis – Ivory Pyramid, 1992, GRP Records (Cover version)[28]
  • Ramsey Lewis – I Love a Piano: GRP Gold Encore Series, 1993, GRP)[29]
  • Ramsey Lewis – Classic Jazz-Funk, Vol. 7, Mastercuts
  • Ramsey Lewis - The Columbia Anthology (1972 - 1989), 2018[30]
  • Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights - VII, 2019, Ropeadope
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater - Wonderland - The Spirit of Earth, Wind & Fire, Expansion Records, 2012.[31]
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater - Only The Best of Dee Dee Bridgewater, 2009,[32]

Tequila Mockingbird was also played by DJ John Gomez as the closing song of the 2019 4-day Kala Festival on the Albanian Riviera.[33]

Personnel[edit]

  • Ramsey Lewis - acoustic piano
  • Leon Ndugu Chancler - drums
  • Al McKay - guitar
  • Verdine White - bass
  • Larry Dunn - Fender Rhodes, Moog synthesizer
  • Eddie del Barrio - horn arrangement
  • George del Barrio - string arrangement
  • Ronnie Laws - soprano saxophone

[1]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ramsey Lewis: Tequila Mockingbird (Single). Columbia Records. February 1978. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. "BBC - (none) - Jazz Line-Up - 8 September 2007". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  3. "BBC - (none) - Jazz Legends". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fordham, John (June 30, 2017). "Ramsey Lewis review – grandmaster of jazz delivers wit, warmth and poignancy". theguardian.com. The Guardian.
  5. Jazz Album Picks. archive.org. 39. Cashbox. December 10, 1977. p. 36. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. Top Single Picks. Billboard. March 11, 1977. p. 93. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. "Ramsey Lewis". www.magzter.com. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  8. Sinnenberg, Jackson (October 6, 2019). "Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights: VII (Ropeadope)". jazztimes.com. JazzTimes.
  9. Stenhouse, Tim (2018-07-03). "Ramsey Lewis 'Don't It Feel Good' / 'Sãlongo' / 'Tequila Mockingbird' / 'Love Notes' 2CD (BGO) 4/5". UK Vibe.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Ramsey Lewis and Philip Bailey at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley". SMI (Seattle Music Insider). 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  11. "Ramsey Lewis, Tower of Power, Anthony Hamilton and More Help Playboy Jazz Festival Turn 40". TheUrbanMusicScene.com | Music Reviews!. 2018-06-17. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  12. "Ramsey Lewis review, Fox Theatre, Tucson, AZ June 8, 2018". www.concertlivewire.com. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  13. Mark (2017-10-28). "Mark My Words: Concert Review: Ramsey Lewis at the Dakota Jazz Club". Mark My Words. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  14. Reich, Howard. "Review: Ramsey Lewis and Natalie Cole visit past, present at Ravinia". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  15. "Photos: 5 reasons to catch Ramsey Lewis' live show". AXS. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  16. "Playboy Jazz Fest Highlights New Talent and Genre Titans". DownBeat Magazine. 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  17. "PRX". beta.prx.org. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  18. "Music by Ramsey Lewis". Tunefind. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  19. "Larry Dunn - Contact Info, Agent, Manager | IMDbPro". pro.imdb.com. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  20. "Music by Ramsey Lewis". Tunefind. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  21. "Music from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon S2019E82". Tunefind. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  22. "Jimmy Fallon: Prince's 'Tonight Show' visit involved pingpong and a broken guitar". TODAY.com. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  23. Brennan, Jim (2002-03-16). Turning Foreign Verse Into English Prose. Billboard. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  24. Inc, Nielsen Business Media (1995-03-11). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  25. ITS: Rainbow. JVC Records. 1980. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  26. Ramsey Lewis: The Best of Ramsey Lewis. Columbia Records. 1981. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  27. Ramsey Lewis: The Electric Collection. Columbia Records. 1981. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  28. Ramsey Lewis: Ivory Pyramid. Columbia Records. 1992. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  29. Ramsey Lewis: I Love a Piano. GRP Records. 1993. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  30. "The Columbia Anthology (1972-1989) - Ramsey Lewis | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  31. Various Artists: Wonderland The Spirit Of Earth Wind & Fire. Expansion Records. 2012. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  32. "Only the Best of Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dee Dee Bridgewater | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  33. "Kala Festival 2019 in pictures". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 2019-11-13.


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