Ray Draper


Ray Draper

Raymond Allen Draper (August 3 1940–November 1 1982) was an American hard bop tuba player.

Born in New York City. After attending the Manhattan School of Music in the mid-1950s, he played or recorded with Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Max Roach, Don Cherry, Horace Tapscott, Archie Shepp, Teddy Wender, Brother Jack McDuff, Dr. John, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Howard Johnson. He also recorded as a leader in the late 1950s. Upon being released from prison in the late sixties, Draper formed the first jazz rock fusion band composed of established jazz musicians of the day. This preceded by three years Miles Davis's "Bitches Brew", which is normally recognized as the first jazz rock fusion group and recording. Original band members included George Bohannon, trombone, Hadley Caliman, tenor sax, John Duke, upright bass, Paul Lagos, drums and Tom Trujillo, guitar. This band, after its first live performance at Hollywood's Whiskey a Go Go--where it shared the bill with The Nazz--was offered numerous lucrative record deals and booked solid at major rock venues for the rest of the year. But after his wife's attempted suicide 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 NY trumpeter Don Sleet and Ernie Watts. After two years of searching and many personnel changes, Draper brought drummer Paul lagos back, along with saxophonist Richard Aplan, trumpeter Phil Woods, and bassist Ron Johnson. This new group was eventually named Red Beans and Rice, in keeping with a food trend. This group appeared on bills with some of the day's headlining groups, including, Jimmy Hendrix, Chicago Transit Authority, Jethro Tull, and Gil Scott Heron. And was on its way to being possibly the best band of its era due to the musicianship in the band and the originality, range and skill in its compositions, arrangements and live performances.Musically they blew everyone away. They went on to record the album produced by Jackie Paris titled " Red Beans and Rice featuring sparerib Ray Draper" on Epic Records. But when the band saw what Ray and his manager Forrest Hamilton had done putting only Rays picture on the cover , again the whole group quit and Ray was on his own once more. After this he sporadically performed and recorded but he was no longer able recreate the band and was ultimately killed during a robbery trying to tell a young robber who he was .Ray had unbelievable charm,and charisma that overcame his addiction ,his ability as a musician and composer and vision were unparalleled .Red Beans and Rice is a favorite among Djs and collectors for its eclectic mix of quality jazz and rock fusion un equalled at its time.


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