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Ray Anderson

"If I ever had a home, it was the slide trombone," says Ray Anderson. Although the perennial poll-winner (6 times in Down Beat's Critics Poll) is indeed at home with the "slip-horn," his unique music is now being heard all over the world. Anderson's innovative and influential style is technically awesome but straight from the heart. He shatters musical categories but remains personal, emotional and accessible. He is often humorous but never predictable. He has given the trombone a whole new sound and also developed a trombone-like way of singing.

Born in Chicago in 1952, Ray Anderson started playing trombone when he was eight.

"The music I remember from my parents' house includes many Dixieland records (which inspired me to select trombone as my instrument) as well as Mahalia Jackson, Broadway shows, Mozart concertos and various folk singers. I played trombone in the orchestra and jazz big band at the University of Chicago Lab School. I was introduced to everything from John Cage to the Blues, from Archie Shepp, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Bird to Motown, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone; I also heard some of the early AACM concerts. Thus I developed an omnivorous taste in music which has only grown over the years."

After three years in California playing in funk, R&B and jazz groups, Ray Anderson moved to New York City in 1972. He picked up a wide variety of musical experience, played in the booming loft scene and spent important periods with Barry Altschul's trio and Anthony Braxtons' quartet. "Playing with Braxton (during 1978-81) really ended my period of apprenticeship and I've led or co-led my own groups ever since." These bands have included the wild funk unit Slickaphonics and a trio with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway called BassDrumBone. Now Anderson can be heard leading his quartet (piano or guitar, upright bass and drums), his Wishbone Ensemble (which adds percussion and violin to the quartet), his Alligatory Band (electric bass and guitar, drums, percussion and trumpet) his Bonified Big Band (classic big band instrumentation) and Ray's latest incarnation, The Pocket Brass Band featuring Jack Walrath on Trumpet, Bob Stewart on Tuba and Charli Persip on Drums. Ray is also a member of Slideride, a four trombone cooperative featuring Craig Harris, George Lewis and Gary Valente.


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