Jeff Ray: The Walkup (2004)
That said, the disc required further fair evaluation from the bottom up. An Ohio State scholarship football player who majored in music, Ray attended Rutgers for graduate studies with Kenny Barron and Ted Dunbar. Then he moved to Harlem.
It was in this New York City community that Ray’s chops took shape and his musical direction became clear. "The Walkup" is the ten blocks between Ray’s Sugarhill home and a Harlem jazz hotspot. It was in these climes that Jeff Ray assimilated the sophisticated urban grit that gives his music that necessary edginess, that thing that raises this music above fray.
Add to this Ray’s choice for keyboards. Aaron Shinn plays the Hammond B3 and Fender Rhodes piano, both with equally competent facility. The Rhodes is full-bodied, filling in all of the crags and spaces with jewels. His solos on both the opener "Streams" and "Hoodwink" are extended clinics on the Fender Rhodes after Miles Davis. This recording is comprised of eight tunes, all over five minutes long. Full of James Brown and Solomon Burke, The Walkup is a head-bobbing experience from beginning to end.
Track Listing: Streams; D.R.A.; Everybody Loves The Sunshine; Hot Music; The Walkup; Wise Ton J; Cinnamon Lenses; Hoodwink.
Personnel: Jeff Ray
Record Label: HiPNOTIC Records