Trumpeter Kevin Davy interviewed saxophonist Ray Carless (1954-2022) by phone for Jazz London Radio (JLR) in October 2020. He kindly shares that interview, and has also written a tribute to him.
SYNOPSIS OF INTERVIEW
Kevin Davy interview
0:00 Intro by Kevin
1: 10 Family background in Spanish Town/ Panish Tong, Jamaica
Eddie Tantan / Thornton
3:00 The move to London
3:56 Early musical influences . Quincy Jones, Ella and his father’s saxophone playing
5: 40 School musical experiences, “When they needed a euphonium I had ago.” , and musician friends at school
6:56 “Reggae wasn’t my first thing…..I started off with soul and funk”
8: 12 Going to Ronnie’s. Forming bands… the start of Britfunk . Bluey and Incognito
10:00 The Jazz Warriors period : Courtney Pine, Gary Crosby, Adrian Reid.
12: 30 The Warriors and Loose Tubes
14:15 Pop bands, session work, commercial success, US artists…
16:00 “Tarantula Walk” / Ensign Records
17:45 Shifts in the relationship / promotional chain between musicians and DJs, new music versus back catalogues
20:00 Cymande. History / comeback tours
24:00 Bob Marley
25:05 “Under duress I do compose”
25:40 The community around Ladbroke Grove / African Revolution
28: 30 Club Skaville All Stars
29:00 Covid, vaccines….
34:00 Guidance for the young…. The state of culture. “People do it because they love it… Just do your thing.”
36:00 Music starts
The late Ray Carless – a tribute
Kevin Davy writes: I liked Ray’s serious approach and friendliness. He was a quietly spoken, cogent intellectual with his personal view on kindness, Pan-Africanism, supporting the community; “A Garveyite approach” which supports black business/culture and seeking a level playing field. A humanitarian approach.
He had a Christian faith that was respectful of, and informed by his Jamaican heritage and culture, and having a knowledge of the Rastafarian faith.
He had his own perspectives on world events and how things really operate locally. He was active at the grass-roots level of the community, supporting up-and-coming musicians.
Personally, I looked up to him, firstly as a musician, and I knew that his personal values were inextricably bound together with his music.
As I got to know him better, I could get a sense of his deep commitments to social, political, spiritual and artistic directions that coexisted within his life and work. He was a thinker.
I first met Ray when he toured the U.K. with his the Jazz Warriors in the mid 80s. I since learned that he had a long musical career across the industry and was held in high esteem by a wide cross section of people across generations. He mentored and nurtured many younger aspirant musicians.
He was a significant person and I feel fortunate to have shared time with him and shared the stage with Ray and the mighty Cymande (on his invitation).
Ray was a self-effacing man-of-the-people, so I was fortunate that he was kind enough to grant me this telephone interview for JLR Radio, which aired in October 2020, during or in between the multiple lockdowns. He speaks for himself here.