Ray Crawford - Smooth Groove
[CCD 79028]


Ray Crawford - Smooth Groove
Ray Crawford was born and raised in Pittsburgh. His first musical ambitions centered on making a name for himself as a saxophonist and in 1941 he took a saxophone chair with the Fletcher Henderson band - doubling on the rarely heard alto clarinet.

During his spell with Fletcher, Ray contracted tuberculosis and was forced to leave the band subsequently spending two years in a sanitorium. This ended his career as a saxophonist and resulted in him learning to play guitar.

This album was his chance as a leader, his first album under his own name. He worked furiously on the arrangements and assembled the musicians he knew could read and could play right away (Johnny Coles on trumpet, Cecil Payne on baritone sax, Junior Mance on piano, Ben Tucker on bass and Frankie Dunlop on drums). After just one rehearsal the date was made in February 1961.

After the date Ray went back home and sat around in California for months waiting for it to be released. Sadly the label closed down shortly thereafter and only re-emerged on Candid decades later.

In retrospect it seems incredible that a musician of such talent and sensitivity should not have been awarded greater recognition and exposed to a wider international audience all these years.

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