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Ray Reach

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Title: Ray Reach  
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Subject: Peter Wolf (producer), Steve Sample, Sr., Music of Alabama, Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars, Traditional pop music
Collection: 1948 Births, American Choral Conductors, American Conductors (Music), American Jazz Bandleaders, American Jazz Composers, American Jazz Educators, American Jazz Guitarists, American Jazz Musicians, American Jazz Pianists, American Jazz Singers, American Male Singers, American Music Arrangers, American Music Educators, American Record Producers, American Session Musicians, Big Band Bandleaders, Jazz Arrangers, Jazz Musicians from Alabama, Living People, Music Directors, Musicians from Birmingham, Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham Faculty
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Ray Reach

Ray Reach
Reach (right) with Branford Marsalis
Background information
Birth name Raymond Everett Reach, Jr.
Born (1948-08-03) August 3, 1948
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
Years active 1964–present
Associated acts Lou Marini, Lew Soloff, Chuck Redd, Chuck Leavell, Chaka Kahn, Jonathan Butler, Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Magic City Jazz Orchestra
SuperJazz Big Band
Night Flight Big Band
Cleveland Eaton and the Alabama All-Stars
W. C. Handy Jazz All-Stars
Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars
Website .com.rayreachwww

Raymond Everett Reach, Jr. (born August 3, 1948)[1] is an American pianist, vocalist and educator residing in Birmingham, Alabama, now serving 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[2] and Magic City Music Productions.[3]

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 is perhaps best known for his work in the jazz idiom, combining straight-ahead jazz piano stylings with Sinatra-style vocals.[4]


  • Early years 1
  • Jazz and computer music education 2
  • Notable students 3
  • Performing, conducting, composing and arranging 4
    • Jazz and pop 4.1
    • Festival appearances 4.2
    • Vocal and choral music 4.3
    • Musical theatre 4.4
    • Commercial jingle production 4.5
  • Music production 5
  • 2008-2010 Performances 6
  • Partial discography 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

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.[5]

He attended Minor High School,[6] 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,[7] and studied piano with Sam Howard of the concert piano duo, Hodgens and Howard.[8] At UA (1977–1980), he served as graduate assistant to jazz educator Steve Sample, Sr, directing the award-winning 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.[9] 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.

Ray Reach receiving a resolution from Alabama State Legislature on February 21, 2013. Pictured left to right are: Unidentified Alabama State Representative, Reach and Alabama State Representative Barbara Boyd. Photo taken at First Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama.

Notable students

As a jazz educator, Ray has taught a number of notable musicians, including: Kelley O'Neal (saxophonist); Beth Gottlieb[10] (percussionist and wife of drummer Danny Gottlieb); Ned Holder (trombonist); Mark Lanter (drummer);[11] Peter Wolf (producer); Chris Gordon (trumpeter/educator);[12] Greg Chambers (saxophonist); Dave Miller(saxophonist);[13] 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

  • Official website
  • Ray Reach at
  • Magic City Jazz Orchestra at All About Jazz
  • Article about "Harpdog Marson" CD, produced by Ray Reach, at
  • Ray Reach teaches the "A B C's of Jazz" at the 2007 W. C. Handy Music Festival
  • Pictures of Ray Reach, with Neal Starkey (bass), Bill Goodwin (drums) and Rick Bell (sax) at the 2007 W. C. Handy Music Festival
  • Ray Reach at Benedetto Guitars, January, 2008 (Scroll down.)
  • Ray Reach on WBHM's "Tapestry" webpage
  • Ray Reach profile on The Jazz Corner website
  • Video: "Cheek To Cheek" by Ray Reach and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars on YouTube
  • Video: "Yardbird Suite" (Excerpt) by Ray Reach and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars on YouTube
  • Article about jazz education at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in January, 2010 edition of B-Metro Magazine
  • Video: Ray Reach sings "This Is All I Ask" at the 2010 W. C. Handy Festival on YouTube
  • Video: Tom Wolfe and Ray Reach play "In A Sentimental Mood" at the 2010 W. C. Handy Festival on YouTube
  • Video: Bill Goodwin and Ray Reach perform Jobim's "How Insensitive" at the 2010 W. C. Handy Festival on YouTube
  • Video: Ike Harris and Ray Reach play "Secret Love" at the 2010 W. C. Handy Music Festival on YouTube

External links

  • Ray Reach Biography
  1. ^ a b
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  4. ^ Brown, Angela: "Birmingham Beat – Uncovering the Local Music Scene", Birmingham Magazine, March, 2006, p. 121
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  12. ^ Chris Gordon
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  37. ^ Gaston Nichols profile,; accessed March 9, 2015.
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  41. ^ Dan Rudin
  42. ^ Howard Paul Trio
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  47. ^ Peter Wolf and the BAMA Awards
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  58. ^ James Clark.


See also

  • James Clark[58] Count On Me (1997). Original songs by James Clark, recorded at Bates Brothers Recording Studio.
  • Dr. Dan "Harpdog" Marson. Blues, Gospel and Jazz Harmonica (1999). Produced by Reach.
  • Chuck "Doc" Snow. Pray For Me (2006). Produced and arranged by Ray Reach.

As producer, arranger, keyboardist, vocalist and guitarist

  • Lou Marini and the Magic City Jazz Orchestra. Lou's Blues (2001). Liner notes by Bob Belden.[55]
  • Eric Essix[56] and the Night Flight Big Band.[16] SuperBlue (2006). Jazz guitarist Eric Essix, featuring guest saxophonist Lou Marini.
  • Amy Drinkwater. With All My Heart – A Journey to the Soul (2005). Christian jazz vocals, recorded at Bates Brothers Recording Studio[57]
  • Mark Dunn. For The Good Times (2008)
  • Roszetta Johnson. Christmas Songs With A Touch Of Jazz (2008).

As producer, arranger and keyboardist

  • Little Jimmy Reed. School's Out Produced by Ross Roberts. Blues. Hammond B-3 played by Reach.
  • Mark Sallings.[54] (1995). Let It Be Known – Mark Sallings and the Famous Unknowns Blues harmonica player Mark Sallings. B-3 played by Reach.
  • Mark Sallings. (1996). Talkin' To Myself Blues harmonica player Mark Sallings. B-3 played by Reach. (The Famous Unknowns were the house band at B. B. King's in Memphis from 1991 to 1994.)
  • Gary Hallquist, composer. Requiem for the Millineum; commissioned by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

As keyboardist

  • K. Lee Scott. Christmastide (2003). Choral music.
  • K. Lee Scott. Requiem (2006). Choral music.
  • K. Lee Scott. "Band of Angels - A Service of Remembrance" (Soon to be released - recorded August 4 and 5, 2014) The Lee Scott Singers. Commissioned for presentation during the 50th anniversary commemoration (2013) of the tragic church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama which killed four little African-American girls. Premiered in 2013 at the Alys Stephens Center on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. A more recent recording was done on August 4 and 5, 2014, featuring the Lee Scott Singers.
  • Uncle Bud's Lectro Wood Experience. Comedic Bluegrass. Production assistance and musician contracting by Reach. Recorded at Bates Brothers Recording[31] and at the studio of John Conner, Jr. in Brentwood, Tennessee. Glen Duncan[52] on fiddle.[53]

As producer

A new recording of the song was made in Birmingham in 1993 with choral students from Jefferson County (Alabama) Schools, Chuck Leavell (keyboards with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton), Charlie Hayward (bassist with the Charlie Daniels Band), Chuck Tilley (drummer for Lee Greenwood and Dolly Parton), Kelley O'Neal (saxophonist for Take 6), Wayne Perkins (Muscle Shoals studio guitarist) and help from Front Row Productions and Airwave Productions Group. Proceeds from the recording benefit PATH activities through the JBS Mental Health Authority.

In 1990, "Mr President" was performed live on HBO's Comic Relief '90 by Natalie Cole and Al Jarreau along with New York City public school choral students and a band directed by saxophonist Tom Scott.

  • Ray Reach. Mr. President (1989). A popular song, co-written by Mike Loveless, Joe Sterling and Birmingham musician Ray Reach for the purpose of raising money to benefit homeless people in the United States.The song was composed and first produced in Dallas, Texas in 1989. George White and Jeff Tokar introduced homelessness activist Joe Sterling to Reach and Loveless, partners in a music production company. They, in turn, enlisted the help of local musicians and facilities including the Dallas Symphony Chorus. Reach and Loveless arranged the piece. Reach played keyboards and performed lead vocals along with Benita Arterberry, Tony Powers and Amy Hahn. Other instrumentalists included guitarist Kim Platko and saxophonist Randy Lee. Engineer Danny Brown assisted the producers with the recording and remixing.
  • Ellis Marsalis and the SuperJazz Big Band.[19] UAB SuperJazz, Featuring Ellis Marsalis (2001). Co-produced with Henry Panion), recorded at the Alys Stephens Center.
  • Ray Reach and Friends. Especially For You (1994). Jazz quartet.
  • Ray Reach and Friends. Have Yourself A Jazzy Little Christmas (2005). Jazz quartet, recorded at CBS Recording Studio[51]
  • Janet Rubino. Worthy Sparrow (2005). A collection of Christian songs and service music.
  • Joylight. Let There Be Love (1990). Produced by Reach and Michael Loveless.
  • Bo Rivers. Country Blue (1986). Country music. Produced by Reach.
  • Bo Rivers. She Just Keeps On Lovin' You (1986). Country music. Produced by Reach.
  • Bo Rivers. Broken Promises (1986). Country music. Produced by Reach.

As pianist/keyboardist, arranger, vocalist and producer

Partial discography

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.

On March 20, 2008, at the invitation of Chuck Leishman, publisher of The Birmingham Weekly,[45] he directed the house band at the 2008 Birmingham Area Music Awards.[46] The band, known collectively as The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars, accompanied BAMA Award recipients Chuck Leavell and Peter Wolf.[47] From July 20–26, 2008, he performed at the W. C. Handy Music Festival.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50]

In January 2008, Reach performed as guest artist with the Howard Paul Trio[42] at the Jazz Corner[43] on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, a venue he returned to with his own trio on October 3 and 4.[44]

2008-2010 Performances

Left to Right: Ray Reach, Chuck Leavell and Peter Wolf at the 2008 BAMA Awards in Birmingham, Alabama.
Left to Right: Ray Reach, trumpeter Ken Watters, bassist Jim Ferguson, drummer Bill Goodwin and guitarist Tom Wolfe at the 2008 W C Handy Music Festival in Florence, Alabama.

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,[29] Boutwell Studios,[30] Bates Brothers Recording,[31] Audiostate 55 Recording Studio,[32] 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,[33] T M Communications,[34] Toby Arnold and Associates,[35] Zimmersmith Productions, and Dallas Sound Lab. He has been associated with highly skilled producers and engineers, such as Ed Boutwell,[36] Gaston Nichols,[37] Noah White, Kenny Wallis, Eric Bates,[38] Mark Harrelson, Chet Bennett,[39] Phil York,[40] Danny Brown, Blake English, James Bevelle, John Conner, Jr., Dan Rudin[41] and Barry Beckett (of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section).

Music production

Left to Right: Lou Marini, Ray Reach and Ernie Stires at a reception following a Carnegie Hall concert which featured the music of Trey Anastasio and Ernie Stires, 2004.

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.

Commercial jingle production

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.[27][28]

For several consecutive years, Reach was commissioned to write arrangements for the annual Induction Gala of the 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).

Musical theatre

Reach has written arrangements for numerous choral ensembles, including the Dallas Symphony Chorus, the choirs of Shades Mountain Baptist Church[25] 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[26] 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.

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.

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.

. The Marriage of Figaro, and The Barber of Seville, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Telephone and, while at Birmingham-Southern, sang lead roles in operas such as [24] He also sang with the Birmingham Civic Opera,[23] (under Sam Owens and later under [21] 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

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".[1]

Vocal and choral music

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.

Festival appearances

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 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[16] and Cleveland Eaton and the Alabama Allstars.[17] He leads his own group, Ray Reach and Friends,[18] and is a former member of the SuperJazz Big Band[19] (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,[20] vocalist Kathy Kosins, the Temptations Review, featuring Dennis Edwards and Chaka Khan with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra.

Jazz and pop

Ray Reach and Eric Marienthal, after a concert at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Alabama.
Left to Right: Ellis Marsalis, John Nuckols and Ray Reach, after a concert at the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, Alabama, November 4, 2007.

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.

Performing, conducting, composing and arranging

Left to Right: Ray Reach, Carla Stovall, Trey Anastasio (of Phish)and Lou Marini at a reception following a Carnegie Hall concert, 2004

his entry into the Birmingham music scene. While Reach was director of the UAB Jazz Ensemble, Studdard often sat in on his rehearsals. Ruben Studdard the band which gave American Idol [15]

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