In the early 1930's, America was blessed
with a heyday of small-band jazz, the likes of which it has not seen
since. In ballrooms across North America, hot jazz, laced with
exciting improvisation, and ballads, melancholy and blue, told stories
of joy and tragedy, and provided rhythm for the feet of dancers of
the two-step, the Lindy and the Swing...Ray Kamalay and his Red Hot
Peppers are reminiscent of this peculiar era. With some of the
finest players in the United States, they play this music with all its
excitement and sentiment. They have wowwed audiences
at some of the very finest venues, including Interlochen, Edinburghand the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
is the singer, guitarist and leader of the group. A Detroit
native, Ray started playing professionally immediately after graduating
from the University of Detroit in 1974. Even then he showed
an unusual interest in both folk music and jazz. In that same
year, while searching for the ancient Celtic muse on the Shetland
Islands, he got his first big dose of the music of Django Reinhardt.
Since then his interest in both genres has only gotten bigger.
Ray has worked in collaboration with many fine artists, includingJoel Mabus, James Dapogny, Johnny Frigo, Betty Joplin, the Chenille
Sisters, Jethro Burns and Ralphe and Howard Armstrong. In 1997
his work with the Armstrongs was nominated for the W. C. Handy Award.
A student of the music, Ray lectures periodically at the college level
with a talk called "Freedom, Slavery and the roots of American Music."
His anecdotes are often highlights of the show.
"This band swings...hard or soft, fast
or slow...They come out swingin' at the bell and don't stop."
"Ray wraps himself around
the music in a manner that is not only stylistically but technically
Ray Kamalay and his Red Hot Peppers
photo by Loraine Friedl