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Doug Raney: New York Visits


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In 1977, 20-year-old guitarist Doug Raney was touring Europe with his father, guitarist Jimmy Raney. Doug fell in love with the soul there and appreciation of club audiences and decided to move to Copenhagen at age 21. That's where he began his recording career and that's where he remained until his death at 59 in 2016. He made only a few trips back to the States, in 1993 and 1996. In the first case, I suspect he returned to visit his ailing father. For the second trip, he probably went back to tie up lose ends of his father's estate. Jimmy Raney died in 1995. In both cases, Doug recorded in New York with different trios.

Doug Raney is one of my favorite jazz guitarists. His taste in songs, chord voicings and re-harmonizing are extraordinary. Every album he recorded is gorgeous and constantly on rotation in my office space. There is no fat or wheel-spinning, just beautiful swinging and improvised lines. Two albums Doug recorded on visits to New York in the '90s were Blues on a Par in 1993 and Back in New York in 1996. The former featured George Cables (p), Doug Raney (g), Steve LaSpina (b) and Adam Nussbaum (d). The latter included Michael Weiss (p), Doug Raney (g), Scott Colley (b) and Kenny Washington (d).

Both albums were for the Danish Steeplechase label and both were produced by Nils Winther. On Blues on a Par, the tracks are I Concentrate on You, Estate, Raney's Blues on a Par, Close Your Eyes, When Sunny Gets Blue, Kenny Dorham's La Mesha and Charlie Rouse's Pumpkin's Delight. On Back in New York, the songs were I'm Old Fashioned, For Heaven's Sake, The Touch of Your Lips, Skylark, All or Nothing at All, I Wanna Talk About You and Get Out of Town.

On both albums, the New York musicians are superb, especially the pianists George Cables and Michael Weiss (above), who bring enormous elegance as a backdrop for the ever-swinging Raney. Drummers Adam Nussbaum and Kenny Washington also are exceptional, adding dashes and splashes of snare and cymbal excitement. It's a shame there are so few live videos of Doug on YouTube.

JazzWax clips: Here's Blues on a Par...

Here's I'm Old Fashioned from Back in New York...

And here's Doug in action...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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