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Ray Reach

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Years active  1964–present
Name  Ray Reach

Role  Pianist ·
Education  University of Alabama
Ray Reach wwwjazzhallcomeducationRayjpg
Birth name  Raymond Everett Reach, Jr.
Born  August 3, 1948 (age 67) (1948-08-03)
Origin  Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Genres  Jazz, classical, pop, R & B, gospel, contemporary Christian, country
Occupation(s)  Pianist, vocalist, guitarist, arranger, composer, producer, educator
Instruments  Keyboards, guitar, vocals
Similar People  Lou Marini, Cleveland Eaton, Chuck Redd, Bill Goodwin, Johnny O'Neal

Blue lou marini and ray reach

Raymond Everett Reach, Jr. (born August 3, 1948) is an American pianist, vocalist and educator. He serves as Director of Student Jazz Programs for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, director of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars and President and CEO of Ray Reach Music and Magic City Music Productions.


Ray Reach Ray Reach Wikipedia

He has performed and recorded in various genres, including pop, R & B, Motown/soul, gospel, rock, classic rock, country (contemporary and traditional), contemporary Christian, classical and jazz music, and perhaps best known for his work in the jazz idiom, combining straight-ahead jazz piano stylings with Sinatra-style vocals. He resides in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ray Reach Ray Reach Wikipedia

Ike harris and ray reach play secret love at the 2010 w c handy music festival

Early years

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Reach is the only child of Erma Elizabeth Hillman (a beautician) and Raymond Everett Reach, Sr. (a coal miner). He began piano lessons at age 6, studying with Giula Williams of E. E. Forbes and Sons Piano Company in Birmingham. Later, he studied piano at the Birmingham Conservatory of Music.

He attended Minor High School, Birmingham-Southern College, the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama (UA), among others. At Birmingham-Southern, he studied voice with New York City Opera baritone Andrew Gainey, and studied piano with Sam Howard of the concert piano duo, Hodgens and Howard. At UA (1977–1980), he served as graduate assistant to jazz educator Steve Sample, Sr, directing Jazz Ensemble B, and playing piano in and arranging for Jazz Ensemble A. During his time at the University of Alabama (1979), ASCAP presented Reach with the Raymond Hubbell Musical Scholarship, for his contributions to jazz and popular music in America.

Jazz and computer music education

Reach has been an active jazz educator since the early 1970s. While attending Birmingham-Southern College, he created a series of jazz workshops which were hosted by the music department. He has taught jazz courses and computer music (MIDI) courses and workshops at numerous colleges, including Cedar Valley College in Dallas, Texas, Birmingham-Southern College, the University of Montevallo, the University of Alabama, and the University of North Texas. In the late 1970s, Reach was chosen by jazz educator Steve Sample, Sr to be the first ever graduate teaching assistant in the jazz program at the University of Alabama.

From 1998 to 2005, Reach was instructor of jazz and music technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and director of the UAB Jazz Ensemble. . He is currently (2005 to present) Director of Student Jazz Programs for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame (AJHoF), where he directs the Student All-Star Band. He served as a faculty member of the W. C. Handy Jazz Camp, and is a regular featured performer at the W. C. Handy Music Festival and a member of the W. C. Handy Jazz All-Stars.

Notable students

As a jazz educator, Ray has taught a number of notable musicians, including: Kelley O'Neal (saxophonist); Beth Gottlieb (percussionist and wife of drummer Danny Gottlieb); Ned Holder (trombonist); Mark Lanter (drummer); Peter Wolf (producer); Chris Gordon (trumpeter/educator); Greg Chambers (saxophonist); Dave Miller(saxophonist); and Chuck Tilley (drummer), a member of the band Sixwire, which won 2nd place on Fox's American Idol spin-off, The Next Great American Band.

Recent alumni of Reach's UAB Jazz Ensemble include Birmingham Gospel pianist Arthur Beard, pianist/keyboardist Coleman Woodson and drummer Tim George of Just A Few Cats, the band which gave American Idol Ruben Studdard his entry into the Birmingham music scene. While Reach was director of the UAB Jazz Ensemble, Studdard often sat in on his rehearsals.

Performing, conducting, composing and arranging

Reach is a pianist, singer, guitarist, arranger and composer. His skills span numerous musical and stylistic genres, including classical, jazz, R & B, contemporary pop, gospel and country.

Reach is a member of several active performing and recording groups, including the Magic City Jazz Orchestra (of which he is the founding director), the Ray Reach Orchestra, the Night Flight Big Band and Cleveland Eaton and the Alabama Allstars. He leads his own group, Ray Reach and Friends, and is a former member of the SuperJazz Big Band (formerly UAB SuperJazz), which was the first performing musical ensemble connected with the UAB Department of Music. He has performed with and arranged for numerous notable jazz and pop musicians and ensembles, including Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Jack Sheldon, Mike Williams (lead trumpeter for the Count Basie Orchestra), Leonard Candelaria (classical trumpeter and educator), singer Al Jarreau, singer Natalie Cole, Lou Marini, Ellis Marsalis, Cleveland Eaton, vibraphonist Gary Burton, vibraphonist / drummer Chuck Redd, Mundell Lowe, Lloyd Wells, Bill Goodwin , Danny Gottlieb, Lew Soloff, Birch Johnson, Jonathan Butler, Jack Petersen, Galen Jeter's Dallas Jazz Orchestra, The Auburn Knights Orchestra, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, Ladies' Night Out, vocalist Kathy Kosins, the Temptations Review, featuring Dennis Edwards and Chaka Khan with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra.

During his seven years as director of the UAB Jazz Ensemble (1998–2005), Reach wrote a large percentage of the music that the band played, including 147 big band arrangements and numerous others for vocal groups and jazz combos. His catalogue of arrangements and compositions numbers over a thousand pieces, including arrangements for solo jazz piano, jazz duo, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, octette, nonette and big band, as well as string quartet, choral ensembles and piano plus string quartet.

Reach has appeared frequently at numerous music festivals, including the W. C. Handy Music Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Mobile Jazz Festival, the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival, Birmingham's City Stages festival, and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival.

Reach has been a singer all his life, and has been an active choral conductor for more than 35 years. His first public performance was at age four, singing a spiritual song at his home church, Minor United Methodist, near Birmingham. His love for choral music began at Dixie Junior High School, where he sang in the choir under Tom Pinion, and later at Minor High School, under John Fowler. He began formal voice lessons at age 15 with Andrew Gainey at Birmingham-Southern College and later entered Birmingham-Southern as a voice major, planning to pursue a career as a professional singer. To this day, Ray refers to his singing, among the many musical skills he possesses, as the "best thing he does musically".

During his college undergraduate years, Ray began his choral directing career at Village Falls United Methodist Church. Following this, he was a paid singer at Fairview United Methodist Church, then later was choir director at Norwood United Methodist Church. Subsequently, he sang at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham (under Sam Owens and later under Hugh Thomas) and was baritone soloist and choir singer at Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham under choirmaster and organist Joseph Schreiber. He also sang with the Birmingham Civic Opera, and, while at Birmingham-Southern, sang lead roles in operas such as The Telephone, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Barber of Seville, and The Marriage of Figaro.

During his seven years at St. Francis Episcopal Church, Reach blended styles of music to create a unique worship music experience. He employed traditional hymns, classical music, praise and worship choruses, contemporary Christian songs, and sacred music by jazz composers such as Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck. Special liturgical music presentations often featured renowned jazz artists, such as Lou Marini, Lew Soloff and Cleveland Eaton.

In 2000, he participated in the premiere performance of a jazz mass called "Requiem for the Millennium", by Gary Hallquist. The piece was commissioned by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and was given its debut performance on Good Friday at St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans. The piece was performed by a 200-voice choir, accompanied by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and featured a jazz quartet led by saxophonist Lou Marini.

Reach has written arrangements for numerous choral ensembles, including the Dallas Symphony Chorus, the choirs of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, the jazz vocal group Ladies' Night Out and the Hilltop Singers of Birmingham-Southern College. In the gospel and contemporary Christian music world, he has written arrangements for artists such as Jonathan Butler, The Clark Sisters, Anetta Nunn and the group Joylight, the resident ensemble at Community Church in Dallas, Texas. Reach contributed arrangements to Butler's 2007 CD and DVD, which was titled "Gospel Goes Classical", and rose to number 2 on the Billboard Gospel charts, and number 3 on the Classical Crossover charts nationally. The recording, produced by Henry Panion, featured Butler, along with Juanita Bynum, a 100+-voice gospel choir and full symphony orchestra, recorded at the Alys Stephens Center.

For several consecutive years, Reach was commissioned to write arrangements for the annual Induction Gala of the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame. In this period of time, this hall of fame inducted people such as Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Hugh Martin, Dean Jones, George Lindsey, Fannie Flagg, and Tallulah Bankhead. He has also arranged and music directed productions for Theatre Tuscaloosa, including And the World Goes 'Round and 1776. As a conductor, he has been musical director for numerous Broadway-style shows. For example, at Samford University he was musical director for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (by Andrew Lloyd Webber), Into the Woods (by Stephen Sondheim) and the Southeastern premier of Children of Eden (by Stephen Schwartz).

As a composer, he has written and arranged five Broadway-style musicals for Birmingham Children's Theatre: Rumplestiltskin; The Perfect Prince; The Bravo Bus; Backstage Baby; and Tuxedo Junction.

While living in Dallas, Texas (1983–91), Reach wrote and produced commercial jingles and film and video scores, for clients such as United Airlines, Mercedes-Benz, and various radio stations.

Music production

Reach is president of the Birmingham-based music production company, Magic City Music Productions. He learned music production skills by working with and observing the producers he worked for over the years in various studios around the Southeast, including (in Birmingham) Sound of Birmingham, Boutwell Studios, Bates Brothers Recording, Audiostate 55 Recording Studio,Prestige Productions and PolyMusic Recording; in the Muscle Shoals, Alabama area: Quinvy Studios, FAME Studios; and in the Dallas, Texas area: Sound Logic Recording, Goodnight Audio, Sound Southwest, Crystal Clear Sound, T M Communications, Toby Arnold and Associates, Zimmersmith Productions, and Dallas Sound Lab. He has been associated with highly skilled producers and engineers, such as Ed Boutwell, Gaston Nichols, Noah White, Kenny Wallis, Eric Bates, Mark Harrelson, Chet Bennett, Phil York, Danny Brown, Blake English, James Bevelle, John Conner, Jr., Dan Rudin and Barry Beckett (of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section).

2008–2010 performances

In January 2008, Reach performed as guest artist with the Howard Paul Trio at the Jazz Corner on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, a venue he returned to with his own trio on October 3 and 4.

On March 20, 2008, at the invitation of Chuck Leishman, publisher of The Birmingham Weekly, he directed the house band at the 2008 Birmingham Area Music Awards. The band, known collectively as The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars, accompanied BAMA Award recipients Chuck Leavell and Peter Wolf. From July 20–26, 2008, he performed at the W. C. Handy Music Festival. On August 21, 2008, he was featured on the "Tapestry" radio show, hosted by Greg Bass on WBHM Radio 90.3 FM in Birmingham, Alabama. On September 27, 2008, The Ray Reach Quartet, featuring saxophonist Gary Wheat, drummer Steve Ramos, Count Basie bassist Cleveland Eaton, with guest, New York trumpeter Lew Soloff, appeared at the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.

On March 28, 2009, in his role as Director of Student Jazz Programs for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Reach was one of the hosts of the Hall of Fame's 7th Annual Student Jazz Band Festival. The guest clinician/performers included pianist Bill Carrothers and saxophonist Eric Marienthal. On March 25–27, 2010, he repeated the role; the guest clinician was drummer T. S. Monk. From July 19 to 25, 2009, he appeared at the W. C. Handy Music Festival in Florence, Alabama.


As leader

  • Especially for You (1994)
  • Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas (2005)
  • As guest

  • Ellis Marsalis and the SuperJazz Big Band. UAB SuperJazz, Featuring Ellis Marsalis (2001)
  • As producer

  • Uncle Bud's Lectro Wood Experience
  • Lou Marini and the Magic City Jazz Orchestra. Lou's Blues (2001)
  • References

    Ray Reach Wikipedia