Ray Draper

Draper was a student at the Manhattan School of Music during the mid-1950s. He recorded Tuba Sounds (Prestige Records 1957) at 16 years old as a leader with a quintet. With minor changes to his quintet including John Coltrane, he recorded his second album at 17 years old. Draper was released from prison in late sixties for drug abuse. He formed the first jazz rock-fusion band with established jazz musicians. This was two years before Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew which is usually recognized as the first jazz fusion group and recording. The original band consisted of George Bohannon, Hadley Caliman, John Duke, John Duke, Paul Lagos, and Tom Trujillo, who played the trombone. After its first performance at Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go, where it was joined by Nazz, the band was offered many record deals and booked at all the major rock venues throughout the year. Ray Draper started using heroin again. The more experienced members of the band quit except for guitarist Tom Trujillo, and Chuck Goodn, his landlord. The search for new members began, and the hirings included Don Sleet from New York and Ernie Watts. After two years of searching, many personnel changes, and getting clean from drug addiction, Draper finally brought back drummer Paul Lagos, saxophonist Richard Aplan and trumpeter Phil Wood. Red Beans and Rice was the name of this new group, which was named after Sandy, Ray’s favorite meal. The group was on bill with Jimi Hendrix and Chicago Transit Authority, Jethro Tull, Gil Scott Heron, and Jethro Tull. The album Red Beans and Rice with Sparerib Ray was produced by Jackie Paris and released on Epic Records. The band discovered that Draper and Forrest Hamilton, Draper’s manager, had only Ray’s photograph on the album cover. Draper quit the group and was left on his own. He relapsed to heroin use and began performing and recording occasionally, but was unable to recreate the band’s sound with other musicians. In the hope of getting clean again, he left California and returned home to New York. He got married again and had two children, Anne, with his second wife. While continuing to compose music for other musicians, he remarried. Ray was robbed of his money in 1982 by a gang. Ray gave him his money and the 13-year-old leader shot Ray. Ray was clean of drug abuse and was working on a composition that was found in his attache bag upon his death. Wikipedia

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