VEL LEWIS is not a name that many soul and jazz fans will be immediately familiar with, but my guess is that most of that crew will at some time have had some contact with the veteran Philly keyboardist’s music.
Velbert “Vel” Lewis began his long music career with the Philadelphia All Boys Choir then in the 70s he joined Philly group The Futures. (Soul connoisseurs will surely remember their anthem ‘Party Time Man’). Vel also played on many sessions with the Delfonics (co-writing their ‘I Told You So’, by the way). When the Futures folded Lewis worked with Peacock Records – playing sessions with many top gospel names and adding his Hammond shadings to Paul Simon’s ‘Love Me Like A Rock’ and going on the road with people like Al Green, David Ruffin, Isaac Hayes, The O’Jays, Grover Washington and Maze.
In the 80s and 90s Vel’s credits included work with Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Phyllis Hyman, Mandrill, and Tina Turner. Film and TV work then beckoned and Lewis went on to work on programmes like ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’.
Now living and working out of Atlanta, Vel Lewis records regularly and he’s just released a new 5 track EP called ‘Colors Of Soul’. The smooth jazz collection shows of his keyboard dexterity and he’s aided throughout by his regular sideman – Lenny Castro (percussion) and Kevin Chokan (guitars).
The music is gentle and laid back and stuffed with catchy riffs and melodic ear-worms. Vel describes his music as “Groove Jazz”… and you can decide if he’s right @ www.vellewis.com