Ray Brown Jr.

Ray Brown Jr. gives concert in Kyiv

World-known jazz musician Ray Brown Jr. performs during his concert in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, March 3, 2013. UKRINFORM.  KYIV. The project Cosmopolite-club Music Nights organized a remarkable event for all Kyiv music lovers. On Sunday night, word-known jazz musician, the son of legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Brown Jr. gave an exclusive concert on the stage of a club in Kyiv. Jazz and blues compositions so well performed along with Ukrainian musicians created an unforgettable and lounge atmosphere of the event. /TKS/ 


Word-known jazz musician Ray Brown Jr. performs during his concert in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, March 3, 2013.
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The Californian

 When Ray Brown Jr. launched his career in a rock band, it was like a fish swimming upstream on the home front. His adopted parents were two all-time jazz greats: songstress Ella Fitzgerald and bassist Ray Brown Sr.

 

Their fame was widespread, and most Americans at least had an idea of why they were important. But not everyone. Their own son didn't.

 

"I was in my early teens before I realized just who and how important they were, other being than my parents," said Brown, 63. "I was living in my music world, which was rock and R&B, and jazz was just a four-letter word I didn't connect with.

 

"To be honest, I think I was half into rock because I liked it and half because I knew it would upset my folks. Call it what you want, but at least some of it was an act of defiance."

 

The soft-spoken Brown went on to say that not long before his father's death, "I told him I played rock just to see the look on his face. If looks could have killed, I'd be a goner." 

 

Were either Ray or Ella alive today ---- Lady Fitz died in 1996 and Ray six years later ---- they would be pleased their son stuck by his decision to ditch the drums and piano and R&B about 20 years ago, in favor of recasting himself as a jazz singer.

 

That's what the New York native will be up to July 27 at Jazzy's Restaurant in Temecula ---- singing a program of jazz and pop standards and songs he's written in a voice range he laughingly described as being that of a "second tenor."

 

His accompanists will be Jazzy's Jon Laskin Band. Brown's only other appearance in Temecula came two years ago at the final Temecula Valley International Festival's tribute to Ella.

 

Although his parents split when their son was 3 and he continued to live with Ella, both parents took an active part in raising him. For example, it was Ray who saw he studied drums and attended his practices, and Ella who insisted their son get a formal education.

 

Fitzgerald and Brown also worked out an arrangement that allowed their son to spend alternate summers on the road with his parents.

 

Ray Jr. pointed out during a conversation several years ago that his father followed a strict daily routine when not traveling that included golf in the morning, rehearsal and then attending his son's practices. Ella led a life that was far less structured. But because they remained good friends, "they made me a part of their lives."

 

"And when my mother became afflicted with illnesses that finally ended her life, my father would visit her regularly, and the three of us became very close." Ray Jr. said.

 

Brown, who also had a very short encounter with a string bass but abandoned the experiment, gets his share of gigs in times when playing dates are in short supply. He's hoping he gets wider media exposure to stimulate interest among jazz promoters.

 

And he's working on readying material for a new album, which will be his first since his 2008 duets-style disc that involved vocalist Jane Monheit, Freda Payne, Dionne Warwick, among others, and instrumentalists Terry Gibbs, the late James Moody, Dr. John and several others.

 

Did he ever record with either of his parents? He did, and was scared stiff when paired with Ella in the recording studio.

 

"Never again, I told myself," Brown Jr. said. "I don't know why, but then I cut a record with both Ray and Ella, and I was twice as nervous."

 

The Big Island Jazz and Blues Society is proud to present Ray Brown, Jr., Elena Welch, and Jr. Volcano Choy live in concert on Saturday, March 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at the Hilo Elks Lodge, located at 150 Kino’ole Street in downtown Hilo. It will be a night of stellar Jazz and Blues performances as these three powerhouse musicians take the stage, accompanied by the hottest rhythm section on the island featuring Gary Washburn, Brian McCree, and Bruce David. This is one BIJB event not to be missed.

Hailing from New York City, Ray Brown, Jr. was raised in a family of musical royalty. As the son of Jazz legends, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Brown, not a day went by that Ray Brown, Jr. didn’t learn to appreciate the beauty and artistry of music. However, despite the fact that Jazz had a great influence on him as a child, it was Rock and Roll and R&B that truly captivated his heart. From a young age, Ray began to sing, play piano, and rock the drums. From NYC, to California, to Seattle, Ray found his way through the land of music. He toured and performed for 15 years throughout the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Alaska, Japan, Korea, and Guam. While on the road, Ray found time to write and compose his music, to which he says, “On the road is where I honed my song writing skills.” He smiles as he explains, “Writing music has always been a wonderful outlet for me.”

Most people think that because of his roots, Brown only plays Jazz, but that is far from the truth. “People are surprised when I sing Country or Rock and Roll,” he shares, adding, “They do expect an experience from some Rhythm and Blues, and I don’t mind giving into the ‘real deal.’ I’m fortunate to have been blessed with a versatile voice.” Indeed, his voice is very versatile, unique and eloquently reminiscent of his mother’s remarkable vocal quality. He is a legend in his own right and to see him in concert is certain to be considered a treat, especially when he is joined by such a fine line up of other fabulous musicians.

Sharing the night with Ray, vocalist Elena Welch will be bringing her playfully sultry voice to the stage. Since the age of 21, Elena has been singing professionally with the top Jazz artists in the city. Her music career has taken her around the world, from Chicago to San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, Rome, Bodrum, Turkey, and to the Big Island, where she currently resides. Elena and Ray Brown, Jr. were both featured for the Volcano Arts Center Jazz series last year, where Jr. Volcano Choy is the Musical Director and Trumpeter. During Ray’s showcase, he invited Elena to join him on the stage for a spotlight, and vice versa. “The energy was just right,” tells Elena, adding, “Especially with Jr. Volcano Choy in the mix!” Elena is delighted the trio is coming together again, this time at the BIJB concert this Saturday.

Joining Ray and Elena, Jr. Volcano Choy is another gifted musician. Coming from a family of musicians, Choy has always had an attraction to the trumpet and Jazz. From playing gigs with one of the great piano players of Hawaii and backing Jazz legends, to playing at Walt Disney World for several years, and then to Pittsburgh to perform with more legendary musicians, Choy has had a very successful career. At some point, however, he decided to bring his family to the Big Island, where he now works as the Musical Director for the Volcano Arts Center Jazz Ensemble. He is thrilled to be working with the many talented musicians in the ensemble, as well as being a part of the trio with Ray and Elena for the BIJB. Of course, the trio just wouldn’t be the same without the help of the best rhythm section in town with Gary Washburn on piano, Brian McCree on bass, and Bruce David on drums.

Pianist, Gary Washburn, started playing professionally at the age of 16. Originally from Oklahoma, he toured in the summers with his brother and eventually found his way to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to earn a Master’s degree in music composition. After some touring around the states, he settled on the Big Island and has been teaching music at Honoka’a High School for over 30 years. “We started from scratch with only 15 kids,” recalls Washburn. Determined to give the kids a real musical education, he found ways to make music appreciation fun for the students. Along the way, an “ensemble” formed, which inevitably became larger and stronger. Washburn realized the performance opportunity available for the students and they started giving free school concerts around the island. Since then, all expenses have been funded by the kids and their families, community donations, proceeds from the concerts, and the Jazz Band CD recorded each year. “We give it away for a donation of $10 or more,” Washburn says, emphasizing that it is not ‘for sale.’ Besides directing the ensemble, Washburn also arranges the music. “It’s one of my joys because I am in love with writing music,” he says, adding, “Working with the kids is such a blessing. I learn from them every year.” With a thoughtful pause, he laughs, “I used to say I’d retire when I stop having fun, but I don’t see myself ever stopping having fun.”

There is no stopping the fun when it’s all about the music, which is exactly what the other band members feel about playing in the BIJB ensemble backing Ray, Elena, and Jr. Volcano Choy. Bassist, Brian McCree, has been a pillar in the Boston music scene for decades and is considered to be one of the best on the island. He is also a teacher, bandleader, and composer. Another ‘top-call’ musician is drummer Bruce David who plays all styles of music, including Rock, Jazz, Country, Blues, Latin, and Hawaiian. Bruce toured with Maria Muldaur for 15 years, had a successful dual career as drummer and engineer, and is currently a drum instructor at the Volcano School and Honoka’a High School. He is also an accomplished songwriter and composer.

Don’t miss the fun and stellar Jazz and Blues music, presented by the Big Island Jazz and Blues Society, featuring Ray Brown, Jr., Elena Welch, and Jr. Volcano Choy on Saturday, March 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at the Hilo Elks Lodge, located at 150 Kino’ole Street in downtown Hilo. Children with adult accompaniment are welcome until 9:30 p.m. Purchase tickets at the door; $15 General Admission and $10 for BIJB Members. For more information contact Fung Irvine at taikotita@gmail.com or visitwww.bigislandjazz.com

 

 

West Hawaii Today

Summer of jazz coming to Volcano

Submitted by whtadmin on May 26, 2011 - 4:06pm

SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY

Jazz is coming to Volcano this summer as Volcano Art Center announces its 2011 Summer Jazz season. The season will consist of four concerts that will take place in June, July and August at Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village and will feature the newly formed Volcano Art Center Jazz Ensemble with Junior Choy. The "Summer of Jazz" will begin June 10 with Ray Brown Jr., Pauline Wilson performs July 2, Moon Brown on July 23 and Elena Welch on Aug. 27. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets will cost $15 per concert.

"It is time to bring great jazz to the community of Volcano and I really feel that we have a great lineup for our first summer, one filled with great artists and memories that will last a lifetime," said David Wallerstein, concerts and performances coordinator.

Ray Brown Jr. was born in New York City and raised in a family of musical royalty, the son of singer Ella Fitzgerald and legendary jazz bass player Ray Brown, he learned at an early age to appreciate the beauty and artistry of music. Although the primary emphasis was jazz, his heart was in rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues, the musician said. The family migrated to California where he studied piano at the age of 10. At 14, drums became an extended musical passion, so his father arranged for young Ray Brown Jr. to study with Bill Douglas and later with Chuck Flores in Los Angeles.

"Because of my roots," Ray Brown Jr. said, "people always assume I sing jazz or play jazz. That's what they ask when they meet me for the first time. People are surprised when I sing country or rock 'n' roll. They do expect an experience from some rhythm and blues, and I don't mind giving into the 'real deal.' I'm fortunate I've been blessed with a versatile voice."

The musician displayed his versatile voice and other talents in 2001 with his debut album for SRI Records, "Slow Down For Love," a collection of light jazz and rhythm and blues songs composed, written and arranged by him that reached the top 50 of the Gavin Report, a San Francisco radio industry trade publication. His second album, "Committed From The Heart," released in 2003, has an adult contemporary pop sound layered with rhythm and blues. The year 2003 marked his debut on the Las Vegas Strip, as he performed five nights a week in the Le Bistro Theater at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. His latest project promises to be a unique and inviting album, "Friends and Family." This duets-styled album is an all-star lineup featuring the vocals of Dionne Warwick, Jane Monheit, Dr. John, Paul Williams, Melba Moore, Lonnie Smith, Freda Payne, Maria Muldaur, Sophie B. Hawkins, Sally Kellerman, Dave Somerville, James Moody and more. In addition his daughter, Haylee, sings a rendition of "A-Tisket-A-Tasket," originally made famous by her grandmother, Fitzgerald. Also included in this album as a bonus track is "How High The Moon," a recording of Ray Brown Jr. with both of his parents.

For tickets and information to Ray Brown Jr.'s performance or any of the other jazz concerts, call Wallerstein at 967-8222 or visit the Volcano Art Center's Niaulani Campus, its art gallery in Hawaii Volcano National Park or volcanoartcenter.org. Tickets also will be available at the door the evening of the performance for $17.

Volcano Art Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created in 1974. It promotes, develops and perpetuates the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii through the arts and education.

Friends & Family CD Review

People Are Talking About Ray Brown, Jr’s  “Friends and Family”

 

“The whole album is just fantastic, I was like a kid in a candy store, with just a couple of pennies to spend…I didn’t know which [songs] to choose, they all sounded so great. I’m in love with this CD.”     Bob Collins - Jazz Café; WRHU

 

“Jr. is a first-rate performer with a deep, slightly raspy sound that suggests a blend of Bobby Short and Michael McDonald, plus a soupcon of Billy Eckstine”. “The “friends” are an eclectic bunch, spanning young (Jane Monheit, Sophie B. Hawkins), old (septuagenarian David Somerville, one-time lead singer of the ’50s group the Diamonds), iconic (James Moody, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dionne Warwick), obscure (little-known but impressive jazz chanteuse Kim Hoyer) and unexpected (Oscar-nominated M*A*S*H actress) Sally Kellerman.”  Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times

 

"Just listened to Ray Jr’s CD and it's marvelous. He's got the rhythm and feel of his mother and father and the voice to go with it. What a great idea for him to do duets with other great singers. I got a real charge out of Haylee doing Tisket," 

Van Alexander, co-writer of A-Tisket-A-Tasket

 

“Junior Does Good – Vocalist Ray Brown Jr., the son of Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Brown Sr., has released a charming 16 track CD...Friends And Family.”   Jazziz Magazine

 

“Ray Brown Jr., son of Ella Fitzgerald and jazz bassist Ray Brown has released a masterpiece on which he duets with several friends and family from differing genres.”

Cross Harp Chronicles, “Blues in the Digital Age”

 

“Big Music’s stand that they only sign artists who appeal to the “magic” (but demonstrably broke) 18-24 year-old age demographic, and they always say that it’s “wholly necessary” for the industry’s survival to do that. How, then, can they allow a project like this to hit the streets? Moreover, who’s likely to buy it, with all those performers whose names are unknown to the “magic” 18-to-24-year-old age demographic? If Big Music’s default-mode premises are correct, this thing should fail miserably. But we’ll bet [Friends And Family] does VERY well with the music-buying public.”    Larry Wines, “Tied to the Tracks”, ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE

 

Friends and Family - the version of Mose Allison's "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy" with Dr. Lonnie Smith on this new release really cooks…”   Bill Barton, KBCS, Seattle

 

 

 

“Thank you for …”FRIENDS AND FAMILY” with Ray Brown Jr.  It's a terrific album and has been in my top ten report to CMJ magazine. "This is one album that I could listen to 24/7!!"”  Jeannie Becker, WPRB, 103.3 FM, WBZC

 

“The terrific lineup included on the release will likely make it one of our top-requested CDs by radio DJs….”  Jesse King, Radiodirectx.com

 

“all receive airplay...but really, the entire CD is most outstanding!”Ralph Bennett, KSRQ

 

“This CD is a gem!. . .. . .fabulous singing. . .superb musicianship. . .and  sensational songs. Homerun!  It's our "CD Pick of the Week". . .maybe the entire year. Kudos.”

Bob Collins, The Jazz Café, WRHU

 

“The styling of some of these artists couldn’t be any different than they are, and yet here you have put ‘em all together and all these different styles really presents a beautiful picture of what jazz, if not what music, is all about. That’s the way Jazz is supposed to be."  Don Wolff, “I Love Jazz” KFUO

 

"Some great co-stars on this cd, some that will really surprise you: Paul Williams, Freda Payne, Maria Muldaur, some wonderful names..Sally Kellerman, James Moody, Melba Moore, Dionne Warwick, it's just a wonderful CD and I enjoyed listening to it. It's our CD Pick Of The Week..." David Kennedy "Everything Old is New Again" WBAI

 

“All-star album from the son of singer Ella Fitzgerald and legendary Jazz bass player Ray Brown. This recording features a stellar guest list, including such luminaries as Dionne Warwick, Jane Monheit, Freda Payne, Melba Moore, David "Fathead" Newman, Sophie B. Hawkins, Dr. John and many others. This is Ray's fourth solo effort, and as producer and label owner Shelley Liebowitz said, it perfectly demonstrates Ray Brown Jr's wide range of talents in coping with such a stunning list of star performers and such a challenging song list, to produce such a wonderful record. 16 tracks”     CD Universe

Call Back

Ray Brown, Jr. is very addictive, like a drug, or fine chocolate. His "Anything Can Happen" just leaves you wanting more. I caught Ray and his band, "Uptown Attitude," when they performed recently at the Riviera's Le Bistro Theatre.

   Unique arrangements and soulful renditions of original and popular songs amplify his superior vocals. What a range! His repertoire is extremely versatile, from samba to barrelhouse blues to island style, funk and new versions of old school classics-Ray's got them all down! The Latin flavor in his show was dynamite. He made a house full of new fans this night.

Inspired by Al Jarreau, Cal Tjader and James Brown, Ray is .also influenced by the musical giants of his immediate family, jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and jazz bassist Ray Brown. He has inherited his gift of scat from his mother. While Ray's family now lives in Hawaii, a hard place to leave, he has a calling to bring his music to a wider audience. We're glad he's here.

Ray showed his blues side with a slow after-midnight version of "On Broadway." My favorite is his version of "Jambalaya"  and a funky version of  "You Really Got-Me."

A young woman named Stevie from Washington State approached Ray and said she loved his songs. There's something in his old school material that appeals to everyone. Stevie spoke straight from the heart, and that's where Ray is coming from. Keep up the good work! From here, "anything can happenLouise Lambert is an internationally acclaimed vocalist/pianist/cabaret artist/songwriter and pro voice coach for radio, film, television and stage. Creator and authpr of the "Vocalastics" audio singers training course, she also enjoys uplifting people with the power of the word and can be reached @ 702-327-1611.

 

Broadway To Vegas

DIVERSE PERFORMERS MAKE LAS VEGAS STRIP DEBUT


Ray Brown, Jr.

Vocalist Ray Brown Jr., son of jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald and renowned jazz musician Ray Brown, was adopted as a small child and raised in front of a piano - music infused into his body.

"Because of my roots, people always assume I sing jazz or play jazz. That's what they ask when they meet me for the first time. People are surprised when I sing country or rock and roll."

So were his parents.

"Rock and roll musicians had a certain innocence with some innuendoes," he continued. " It was fun music. My mom was really opened minded. My father took awhile. Dad was jazz, I was rock and roll. We studied classic music in school. My father was very passionate about everything. You studied. You practiced. You took lessons. You commit yourself wholly. Now, when you are a teen-ager half of that goes in one ear and out the other. It's when you get to be an adult that you sort it all out."

Brown recalled studying the piano beginning at the age of 10 but falling in love with the drums at 14. "My dad arranged for me to study with Bill Douglas and later with Chuck Flores in Los Angeles."

"I used to tell my dad that my life was rock and roll. When I was grown I said to him - I told you that just to see that look on your face!"

Ella Fitzgerald was married in 1941 to Benny Kornegay. The marriage was annulled in mid-1942. In 1947, she married Brown. The couple divorced in 1953 but continued to perform together.

Brown is surprised that anyone might think it unusual that the divorced couple continued a successful musical partnership.

They also were unwavering in a passionate devotion to their son and a united effort in raising him.

"I traveled with my parents all the time," recalled Brown. "It was wonderful! You got to hang out back stage. I talked to wonderful musicians and learned the history of music - where it came from. Absolutely, it was a real treat."

"In the summer time I traveled with my mom. We'd traveled on tour Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Then I would go with my dad and we'd go back from Washington, D.C. to Detroit and spend a week in Detroit or Chicago or where they were playing."

In interviewing his mother in 1975 she bragged about her son's musical leanings. "He's a guitarist, but really a drummer. He plays both very well." So what happened to the guitar?

Brown was startled that his mother had mentioned that guitar.

"It's a long, sad story. Let's just say I didn't play very well," he laughed, indicating that his mother's recollections of his guitar picking ability might have been heard through the ears of a mother's love rather than those of a musician.

Brown praised his parent's parenting skills. "You can't really be a good parent unless you are able to extend yourself to other children and people. Both of my parents always did that."

Fitzgerald, whose jazz recordings won her 13 Grammy Awards in a career that spanned six decades, died in June 1996 at the age of 78.

Her Carnegie Hall Tribute Memorial was SRO. "Dad played and I told stories," remembered Brown. Diana Krall played piano and sang Goody, Goody. She was joined by Russell Malone and Ella's ex-husband bassist Brown. They performed Dream a Little Dream of Me. Brown then did an avant-garde bass solo of The Very Thought of You.



The stories from her son were warm. "When you went home after a concert and talked about her, she went home and talked about you."


 

Revered by his peers and by jazz audiences everywhere, Brown was finishing an engagement at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis at the time of his death on July 2, 2002. Brown had played golf, a favorite pastime, earlier and went to take an afternoon nap. When he did not show up to perform, a bandmate went to his hotel where it was discovered that he had passed away in his sleep. He was 75.

Their son is pleased that his parents lived to see him succeed as a musician. Brown, Jr. displayed his versatile voice and other musical talents in with his debut album for SRI Records, Slow Down For Love featuring featured a collection of light jazz and R&B songs composed, written and arranged by Brown and his second album, Committed From The Heart, was released this year.

For 15 years, Brown had been steadily working in bands and as a single artist, performing all over the world. Like his father, he loves to golf. Like his mother, he knows the rigors of the road and the joys of home.

"You know how the business is," Ella had told me. "You have to travel and do the one nighters. I was always traveling, and you're always thinking of home. When you are home all you want to do is be with your family."

"For musicians to earn a living you have to be willing to travel," agreed her son. "When I'm off the road I prefer to crash at home. I just want to be with my family." That family includes "our 13-year-old son from my wife's previous marriage and we have a 4-year daughter."

Recently, Brown has become seriously interested in photography, specializing in black and white snaps. "I'm an avid photographer. It's therapy for me."

For those who are into musical therapy Ray Brown, Jr. is at the Riviera Hotel.