126

Ray Draper: Tuba Sounds

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
“A Promise Derailed.” Such of phrase could easily have been etched on Ray Draper’s tombstone to describe the tubaist’s trials in life and music. Killed in a botched robbery at the tragic age of 42 his troubles both personal and musical hounded him for much of his life. But reading the original liners to this reissue penned by Ira Gitler it’s difficult to prognosticate such a future for Draper. Member of the All-City High School Symphony, a budding playwright and composer, and front man of a recording date for Prestige- all of these things point to bright and promising prospects as a musician. A careful inventory of Draper’s sidemen also speaks to his precocious talent. Even back in 57’ McLean and Waldron were heavy hitters and the relative newcomers Young, DeBrest and Dixon are also solid recruits. Taped at Rudy Van G’s original Hackensack studio (his parent’s living room) the fidelity adds even further to the fine proceedings.

The tunes on the date are a well-chosen mix of originals with a single standard thrown in as a nod to tradition. Draper’s potbellied horn is surprisingly agile on the changes, particularly on his own numbers “Jackie’s Dolly” and “Mimi’s Interlude.” Plump and viscous, it’s a sound that skates along the bedrock of the bass register while still managing to fire off quick salvos of notes. Young stays fairly understated, but still chimes in occasionally with fine solos, as on the latter composition and some intriguing exchanges, as on the opening “Terry Anne.” McLean’s devilish alto, brimming with youthful bravado, routinely dances rings around the leader’s fleshy figures. The rhythm section is usually relegated to its regular chores, but Waldron finds space both for a tune and several solo breaks.

Draper recorded several other dates as a leader and parlayed some work as a sideman for employers like McLean, Coltrane and others throughout the remainder of the 50s. The 60s and 70s also afforded him sporadic dates with folks like Archie Shepp and, but the occasional returns to music were always short-lived. Listening in on the promise he so evidently displays here it’s a shame Draper wasn’t able to persevere.


Track Listing: Terry Anne/ You

Personnel: Ray Draper- tuba; Webster Young- trumpet; Jackie McLean- alto saxophone; Mal Waldron- piano; Spanky DeBrest- bass; Ben Dixon- drums. Recorded: March 15, 1957, Hackensack, NJ.

Title: Tuba Sounds | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Prestige Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Hide Ye Idols CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Spavati, Mozda Sanjati CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "A Night Walking Through Mirrors" CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011" CD/LP/Track Review 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Seaside" CD/LP/Track Review Seaside
by John Eyles
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "Right Up On" CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor