Ray Drummond

RAY DRUMMOND has been a bassist for over 30 years. He’s held many hats, including producer, arranger and bandleader. It all boils down to Ray Drummond’s passion for great music. He was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to an Army colonel. He attended 14 schools around the globe. Drummond began his musical journey at eight years old with the French horn and then the trumpet. Drummond fell in love with jazz early on and began to listen to jazz music. His music director convinced him to learn the bass at age 14 but he didn’t know it. Drummond eventually settled in California with his family, earning a B.A. He earned a B.A. in Political Science and attended Stanford Business School. He lived in San Francisco and worked alongside Bobby Hutcherson (that partnership continues to this day), Michael White (Lester’s Niece), Martha Young (Lester’s Niece), Ed Kelly (Tom Harrell), and Eddie Marshall. He left California’s corporate world and moved to New York City in 1977. He quickly became a top-call bassist. He was known for his solid rhythmic and harmonic innovation, which earned him gigs with Betty Carter, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. He has also been recorded on more than 300 recordings with artists such as Stan Getz and Houston Person, Kenny Burrell. Drummond is not only a jazz legend, but also records live and performs with a variety of emerging artists, including Joe Locke and Steve Wilson, Rob Schneiderman, Jessica Williams and Rob Bollenback. Drummond is not content to remain a sideman, and has been leading his own groups for 29 years. Drummond has eight recordings to his name as the leader and three more as co-leader. Robert Hicks, Villager, writes that Drummond’s unique intonation, dark melodies, and witty rhythmical sense distinguish him from other bassists. He is also a bandleader and composer. His music, as a composer, is rooted in jazz and its roots. It combines African inspirations with modal moods. Drummond says, “I’m trying answer the question of how it would have turned out if we hadn’t had the Afro-Cuban experience.” What if the African influence was brought directly to New York City and New Orleans? He surrounds himself as a bandleader with musicians that fit his musical style and allows them to play the music he has created. My approach to band leadership is the single-minded Miles Davis style. “Excursion”, which includes David Sanchez, Craig Handy and Stephen Scott, and Billy Hart; The Quartet, with Billy Hart and Stephen Scott; and “One To One,” with Bill Mays. He also co-leads The Drummonds with Renee Rosnes and Billy Drummond. Since 1994, his bands have performed at the Village Vanguard in NYC every year. They also toured the midwest, including performances at Purdue University and several trips to California. Drummond received the Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in 1998. He was a Monterey Jazz Festival resident artist in 1998. His “Excursion” band performed at the Festival’s highlight event. In 2001 Drummond was commissioned by Lafayette College in Easton to compose two pieces for their Jazz Band. His “Excursion”, college artist-in-residence, performed at the end of his residency. Drummond began his teaching career in 1975 as a Monterey Peninsula College Music Department faculty member. Master classes, seminars, and workshops continue to be conducted by Drummond all over the globe, including at Stanford Jazz Workshop (two times as master resident), Purdue University and University of Nebraska/Lincoln, Massachusetts, and at the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki. From 1975 to 1979, he was an adjudicator for high-school jazz bands and a staff member at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He continues his sideman work with The Kenny Barron Trio and Houston Person. He was a performer with his Quartet, The American Jazz Institute, and Lafayette College in Easton (PA) as a leader. As Assistant Professor of Jazz Theory, Theory and Practice, he recently retired from California State University Monterey Bay. He is currently a member on the faculty of The Juilliard School in New York City. From www.raydrummond.com

Leave a Comment