Ray Draper / Aug 3, 1940 - Nov 1, 1982

I want to give a birthday shout-out to an underknown talent, the jazz tuba player Ray Draper. He career was stunted from drug addiction, as well as the limited opportunities for his cumbersome instrument, but he burst onto the bop scene as a teenage bandleader and cut some records for Prestige.

At 16 he made his debut, Tuba Sounds, with Jackie McLean on sax and Mal Waldron on piano. At 18 he cut Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John Coltrane and at 19 released A Tuba Jazz, again with Trane in the band, for the Jubilee label. He cut some sessions with the Max Roach band in the late '50s, and performed with Donald Byrd.

After some work with Don Cherry, he spent most of the '60s in jail but returned in the late '60s to form a jazz-rock-funk fusion band, Red Beans & Rice, an early example of such music, pre-dating Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. The band played in the rock & funk scenes. However, upon release of the full-length album (on Epic) the band broke up and Draper fell back into drugs.

He sporadically recorded with Horace Tapscott & Sonny Criss (on the classic Sonny's Dream), Jack McDuff, Dr John, Howard Johnson and Archie Shepp in the '70s. He was victim of a gang shooting in 1982, just 42 years old. 

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