Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Ray, Michael

Ray, Michael, trumpet, vocalist, composer and producer; b. Trenton, NJ, 24 December 1952.

Ray grew up in Trenton, and started his career in a variety of pop/funk bands, working with everyone from Patti LaBelle to the Delfonics, Stylistics and Kool & The Gang.  He began working with the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1978 and still performs with them.  He has worked with his own group, Michael Ray & The Cosmic Krewe since 1993.  He has one album out on the Evidence Label, with a new album to be released this September on the Monkey Hill Label.  He calls his own music "Jazz Funk of the Future." He played with SUN RA (1979-93) and since then in the Sun Ra group led by Marshall Allen since Ra's death, and with R&B giants Kool & The Gang (1979-1990). He began leading his own group, The Cosmic Krewe taking jazz to the next dimension in 1993, making annual appearances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; also appeared at Earshot Jazz in Seattle; multiple years at Discover Jazz in Burlington, VT; JVC, Knitting Factory and Texaco Jazz Festivals in New York, The Boston Globe Jazz Festival; Jacksonville, FL Jazz Fest; San Francisco Jazz Fest; Syracuse, NY Jazz Fest; Kansas City Blues & Jazz Fest; and the Ann Arbor, MI Blues & Jazz Fest. He recently signed to a three record deal with New Orleans Indie label Monkey Hill Records (affiliated with The Subdudes, Cowboy Mouth, Bill Summers, Bayou Renegades), Ray brings members of both is New Orleans and new England Cosmic Krewe musicians together for a hot new release "Jazz Funk Of The Future" , with special guests John Medeski and Delfeayo Marsalis on board the Krewe ship. His audiences are interesting mixtures of baby boomer jazz aficionados, neo-hippie jam band fans, alternative rockers, funk revivalists and folks looking for the creative and experimental.  Considered a musician's musician, Ray has performed live with Phish, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Zambiland Orchestra, Deep Banana Blackout, and even Porno for Pyros. He established his own management company Rhythm & Muse, with a second office in E. Thetford, Vermont.  He was nominated "Best Contemporary Jazz" and performed at the 7th Annual Big Easy Entertainment Awards in 1994.  His innovative multi-art collaborations focusing on sound and colour utilize avant garde jazz compositions, neon set installations, dance and poetry.  The concept earned the group a regional arts award in 1993 funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller and Andy Warhol foundations.  His "Jazz As Performance Art" theme productions include tribute shows to The Haitian Vibration, The Spoken Word, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Sun Ra. Highly regarded as a world class player in jazz circles, Ray's affiliation with Sun Ra's Intergalactic Arkestra began in 1978.   Ray performed and/or produced nearly two dozen albums internationally with the Jazz Hall of Fame keyboardist that led the #1 Big Band on the planet for more than a dozen years (Downbeat's International critics poll as recently as 1992).  Sun Ra designated Ray his "Intergalactic Research Tone Scientist", featuring him on trumpet and vocals.  Ray appears on Sun Ra albums on Saturn Records and on CDs released by Evidence, Enja, HatHut, Rounder, Black Saint, Horo, A&M, Philly Jazz and ESP labels.  On tour with Sun Ra for 14 years, he performed for festivals, TV shows and artist residencies. Ray is also recognized as a member of the front line for Kool & The Gang, the top selling group of the 1980's.  Ray danced, sang, played trumpet, and was a member of the award-winning writing and production team that produced seven platinum/gold albums and seven "Top Ten" hits for the group.  Ray won 4 American Music Awards, 5 Ampex Golden Reel Awards, the 1978 NARM Award and a Grammy nomination from 1979-1989. Leading his own Cosmic Krewe, Ray combines the best of both his influences, the amazing Cosmo-Drama and outer space presentations of Sun Ra, & the high energy, rock/funk shows of Kool & the Gang.  He's received awards from Lila Wallace-Readers' Digest, Foundation National Jazz Network; The Louisiana Jazz Federation; and New Orleans' Contemporary Arts Center, and Music & Entertainment Commission, & WWOZ FM. In his home base city of New Orleans, he has been nominated Best Contemporary Jazz Artist and won the 1999 award for Best Funk Artist.

Cosmic Krewe: Evidence; Funk If I Know (1998-99); also dozens of Sun Ra albums, and the 1999 CD "Song For The Sun" by the Sun Ra Arkestra under the leadership of Marshall Allen. Ray is heard on 7 platinum/Gold albums with  Kool & The Gang, and more recently on alternative rock albums: "Phish: A Live One", Galactic drummer Stanton Moore's "All Kooked Out" and even on John Sinclair & The Blues Scholars "Full Moon Night".

Contact information:
Gloria Powers, manager
Rhythm & Muse International Entertainment Resources
P.O.Box 57407
New Orleans, LA 70157

Phone 504-593-9544
Fax 504-593-9543

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