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Milwaukee-based Narada Records has long been a powerhouse source of new age and global music, but the millennium also brought a commitment to solid jazz recordings, both straight-ahead and smooth. Who better to start both types with than Ramsey Lewis, who goes the funky, smooth route on his Urban Knights III project and returns to his trio roots on this multi-faceted overview of all of the musical loves of his life? Swinging both high and low with Chicago-based bassist Larry Gray and drummer Ernie Adams, Lewis brings the titular passion to tunes inspired by or taken from opera, classical, jazz, and gospel. The connecting thread is that all of the covers are of songs that Lewis played during his formative adolescent years when he was first discovering his voice on the piano. The key to his successful delivery is altering the mood, sometimes jarringly, within the context of a lengthy, slow-building thematic piece. "Pavane" begins with a cool, seductive trio invitation before Gray's bass starts throbbing and Lewis switches gear from lighthearted melodicism to hard-hitting percussive pounding. Anyone who has ever doubted that jazz and classical music have something in common should take a listen to "For the Love of Art," where Lewis blends the intense yet eloquent fingering of classical with some out-there improvisational sections. Gray also creates a great deal of melancholy drama by taking the bow to his bass (like a cello) on the opening section of the Pavarotti favorite "Nessun Dorma" and later on the punchier "Vesti La Giubba." The immensely ambitious project concludes with one of the simplest arrangements, a playful gospel/blues trio jam called "A Moment Spiritual."