Who said that a Tuba player cannot play as a soloist in a Hard Bop environment? It took a little more focusing and adjusting for the Jazz fan to realize and accept Ray Draper and his Tuba. Its not easy to accept the role of a Tuba after growing up and being accustomed to either watching a college marching band at halftime and/or watching a Dixie band marching down Bourbon Street. The Tuba has a certain distinctive low sounding dull tone that seems impossible to improvise but Ray Draper was determined to break the mold and he was successful. He managed, at the age of 17, to lead a Hard Bop quintet and convince the critics by effectively improvising with a Tuba. This particular Ray Draper quintet was catapulted further with the addition of John Coltrane and his unique Tenor sound. “The Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John Coltrane” is a breakthrough album that all Jazz fans should own. All the Jazz Con Class Radio listeners will have the opportunity to hear it by tuning into the 24/7 broadcast, enjoy!
About the album:
Ray Draper was only 17 when he led this date (all four of his sessions as a leader were made before he turned 20) and was brave (or foolhardy) enough to team up with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane (who was 14 years older and already a major name) in a quintet also including pianist Gil Coggins, bassist Spanky DeBrest, and drummer Larry Ritchie. Draper had ambitious dreams of making the tuba a major jazz solo…….Read More
Ray Draper Biography:
Draper attended the Manhattan School of Music in the mid-1950s. As a leader, he recorded his first album, Tuba Sounds (Prestige Records 1957), at the age of 16, with a quintet. His second album was recorded at the age of 17 with slight changes in his quintet, including John Coltrane.
After his release from prison in the late sixties due to drug use, Draper formed the first jazz rock fusion band composed of established jazz musicians of the day. This preceded Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, which is normally recognized as the first jazz rock fusion group and recording by two years. Original band members included George Bohannon on trombone, Hadley Caliman on tenor sax, John Duke on upright bass, Paul Lagos on drums and Tom Trujillo on guitar. This band, after its first live performance at Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go-where it shared the bill with Nazz-was offered numerous record deals and booked solid at rock venues for the rest of the year.
Ray Draper began using heroin again, whereupon the more experienced band members quit, except for the youngest member, guitarist Tom Trujillo and his landlord, Chuck Goodn. This led to a search for new members and hirings that included New York trumpeter Don Sleet and Ernie Watts. After two years of searching and many personnel changes, including getting clean from drugs, Draper brought drummer Paul Lagos back, along with saxophonist Richard Aplan, trumpeter Phil Wood, and bassist Ron Johnson. This new group was eventually named Red Beans and Rice, named after their favorite meal cooked by Ray’s wife, Sandy. This group…..Read More