[Dixielandjazz] Carline Ray Dies at 88 (New York Times)

david richoux domitype at gmail.com
Wed Jul 31 17:01:26 PDT 2013

There is a documentary film just out now about The International
Sweethearts of Rhythm and other women of jazz and swing - trailer is here:

David RIchoux

On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 4:15 PM, Robert Ringwald <rsr at ringwald.com> wrote:

> Carline Ray, an Enduring Pioneer Woman of Jazz, Dies at 88
> by William Yardley
> New York Times, July 28, 2013
> Carline Ray, a pioneering jazz instrumentalist and vocalist who joined the
> all-female
> International Sweethearts of Rhythm in the 1940s, later performed with
> Erskine Hawkins
> and Mary Lou Williams and this year released her first recording as a lead
> vocalist,
> died on July 18 in Manhattan. She was 88.
> The cause was complications of a stroke, said her daughter, the jazz
> singer Catherine
> Russell.
> In an era when female jazz musicians were rare, Ms. Ray was often the only
> woman
> in the band in a career that spanned seven decades and multiple
> instruments and genres,
> from calypso to choral works.
> "She always made a point of saying she wasn't a female musician," Ms.
> Russell recalled.
> "She was a musician who happened to be female."
> Her mother was proud but also felt a constant need to prove herself in a
> world dominated
> by men.
> "She would never let anybody help her with her amplifier or her bass," Ms.
> Russell
> said.
> Ms. Ray started her career surrounded by female musicians, though, as a
> member of
> a later incarnation of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an
> integrated, all-female
> group that first formed in the 1930s at a Mississippi school for poor
> black children.
> Ms. Ray had just graduated from Juilliard, in 1946, when she joined the
> Sweethearts,
> playing rhythm guitar and singing. A few years later she joined the band
> led by Mr.
> Hawkins, singing but also playing rhythm guitar. Later, when she married
> the bandleader
> Luis Russell, who had helped organize a group led by Louis Armstrong, she
> insisted
> that she continue performing, and she did.
> Mr. Russell died, in 1963, when Catherine was 7. Ms. Ray kept playing,
> taking her
> daughter to recording sessions and performances. She spent decades as a
> session musician,
> playing an electric Fender bass at studios in midtown. She sang classical
> choral
> works, including performances of Christmas music conducted by Leonard
> Bernstein.
> She sang backup on recordings for Patti Page, Bobby Darin and other
> performers.
> Ms. Ray often sang and played bass with the Alvin Ailey American Dance
> Theater, including
> in its 1971 production of "Mary Lou's Mass," by Ms. Williams, the pianist
> and composer.
> She also performed with big bands led by Sy Oliver and Skitch Henderson
> and, when
> it was under the direction of Mercer Ellington, the Duke Ellington
> Orchestra. In
> 1980, she received a grant to study the upright acoustic bass, with Major
> Holley.
> When interest in female performers began increasing in the late 1970s, Ms.
> Ray became
> a regular performer at women's jazz festivals, and later in life she was a
> mentor
> to younger female musicians, including the bassists Nicki Parrott and Mimi
> Jones.
> She also played in touring and educational groups featuring female
> musicians, including
> Jazzberry Jam.
> "She wasn't out there waving the flag saying 'I'm a woman in jazz,'" Sally
> Placksin,
> the author of "American Women in Jazz," said in an interview this week.
> "She was
> just always out there playing."
> Carline Ray was born on April 21, 1925, in Manhattan. Her father, Elisha
> Ray, was
> a horn player who graduated from Juilliard the year she was born. He had
> played with
> James Reese Europe and had offers for more musical work but, seeking
> steady income
> for his new family, he took a job with the post office not long after he
> graduated.
> Ms. Ray entered Juilliard at 16 and stayed five years, after changing her
> major from
> piano to composition. In 1956 she received a masters degree from the
> Manhattan School
> of Music.
> In addition to her daughter, Ms. Ray is survived by a sister, Irma Sloan.
> Ms. Russell spent several years working with her to choose songs and
> arrangements
> for "Vocal Sides," her mother's first recording as a lead vocalist.
> "Her aim was not to be a front person," Ms. Russell said. "She used to
> tell me that
> she wanted to be a part of something bigger."
> -30-
> -Bob Ringwald
> www.ringwald.com
> Amateur (ham) Radio Operator K6YBV
> 916/ 806-9551
> "If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an
> infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even
> considering if there is a man on base." --Dave Barry
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