Born Raymond E. Reach, Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama, Ray is a pianist, vocalist and educator, now serving as Director of Student Jazz Programs for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In addition, he is an accomplished guitarist, arranger, composer, conductor and music producer. Although he has composed, arranged and performed in a variety of genre, he is perhaps best known for his work in the jazz idiom.
Ray began piano lessons at age 6, studying with Giula Williams of E. E. Forbes and Sons Piano Company in Birmingham. Later, he studied piano with Carolyn Pfau andHugh Thomas at the Birmingham Conservatory of Music. Ray attended Minor High School near Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College, the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama, among others. At Birmingham-Southern, he studied voice with renowned New York City Opera baritone Andrew Gainey, and studied piano with Sam Howard of the concert piano duo, Hodgens and Howard. At the University of Alabama (1977 – 1980), he served as graduate assistant to noted jazz educator Steve Sample, Sr, directing the award winning Jazz Ensemble B. During his time at the University of Alabama, ASCAP presented Ray with theRaymond Hubbell Musical Scholarship, for his contributions to jazz and popular music in America.
An Experienced Jazz Educator, Performer and Leader
Ray has been an active jazz educator since the early 1970s. He has taught jazz courses and computer music (MIDI) courses and workshops at numerous colleges, including Cedar Valley College in Dallas, Texas, Birmingham-Southern College, the University of Montevallo, the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas and others. From 1998 to 2005, Ray was instructor of jazz and music technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and director of the UAB Jazz Ensemble. He is currently (2005 – present) Director of Student Jazz Programs for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. He has been a faculty member of the W.C. Handy Jazz Camp, a regular featured performer at the W. C. Handy Music Festival and a member of the W. C. Handy Jazz All-Stars. In addition, he directs the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Student All-Star Band and the “Fun With Jazz” Educational Program. The Fun With Jazz Educational Program was originated through the Alys Stephens Center for the Performing Arts, and is now offered through the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Also, Ray directs two orchestras, both of which he founded: (1) the Magic City Jazz Orchestra, a recording and concert group, and (2) the Ray Reach Orchestra, a dance band in the tradition of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Count Basie Orchestra.
Music Technology Ray has been involved with synthesizers (and later) computer-produced music since 1969, when he purchased his first Mini Moog. With the advent of MIDI, he worked in research and development for Systems Design Associates, Inc., makers of MIDI music software. Later, he co-founded the American MIDI Users Group (AMUG), which was based at the Dallas Infomart.
Performing, Arranging and Producing
Ray has produced for and/or recorded and performed with such luminaries as: trumpeter Clark Terry, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, trumpeter Jack Sheldon, Mike Williams (lead trumpeter for the Count Basie Orchestra), Leonard Candelaria (noted classical trumpeter and educator), singer Al Jarreau, singer Natalie Cole, saxophonist “Blue Lou” Marini, pianist Ellis Marsalis, Count Basie bassist Cleveland Eaton, vibraphonist Gary Burton, vibraphonist/drummer Chuck Redd, guitaristMundell Lowe, guitarist Lloyd Wells, guitarist Howard Paul, drummer Bill Goodwin, trumpeter Lew Soloff, trombonist Birch Johnson, guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Butler, guitarist Jack Petersen, Galen Jeter’s Dallas Jazz Orchestra (later known as Dallas’ Original Jazz Orchestra – “DOJO”), the Auburn Knights Orchestra, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, jazz vocal group Ladies’ Night Out, vocal group Take 6, vocalist Kathy Kosins, vocalist Annie Sellick, vocalist Bethany Smith Staelens, the Temptations Review, featuring Dennis Edwards and Chaka Khan with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and Classical choral composer K. Lee Scott, among others.
Ray Reach Interviewed on WBHM’s “Tapestry” Show
Listen to WBHM Radio’s “Tapestry” show, featuring Ray Reach, by clicking here.
Ray’s Profile on Wikipedia.com
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Concerts with Cloud 9 Orchestra12.11.2011…Cloud 9 Christmas at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame #2 (Birmingham, AL) 12.10.2011…Cloud 9 Christmas at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame #1 (Birmingham, AL)