Ray Foxley

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Raymond Geoffrey 'Ray' Foxley (28 December 1928 – 6 July 2002) was a jazz pianist who played with Ken Colyer and Chris Barber.

Foxley's own account of his early career[edit]

The below was written by Ray Foxley himself, when he was 19, for the programme notes of “Jazz at the Birmingham Town Hall” presented by Louis Brunton in conjunction with the Hot Club of London on Saturday, June 14th, 1947. Ray’s band, the Gutbucket Six shared the stage with George Webb’s Dixielanders, Bill Bramwell, the Humphrey Lyttelton-Wally Fawkes quartet, and the concert was emceed by James Asman. (Verb tenses have been retained, as in the original.)

Ray "began his musical career at the age of 14, when he took his first straight music lessons. Pianoforte rudiments did not hold any great fascination for him, however, and after about 18 months he abandoned with relief this preliminary excursion into the musical world. It was about 2 years later that, attracted by a boogie record, he went out and bought the sheet music of Cow-Cow Boogie, upon which much time and energy was expended. That was the beginning.

Fortunately, his musical evolution was speedier than most, and he soon began to dig the righteous stuff. Graduating through the Fats Waller stage, and fortified by a few months syncopation lessons, (to get that bass) he began to acquire a truer perspective of the real jazz, and an increasing desire to play it. Academic tuition was now a thing of the past - records became his source of instruction. Then came the day when he first heard Jelly Roll Morton’s King Porter Stomp. That did it. Ever since then he has worshipped at the Morton shrine, and nowadays he is the purest “purist” you could hope to meet (or avoid). His association with various small bands began a long way back, and right from the early days his relentlessly righteous outlook has proved a bone of contention between him and the more commercially-minded of his fellow musicians. But he stuck to his beliefs and almost achieved his ideal band in the Gutbucket Six, a group whose unfortunate disintegration on the brink of success was brought about by the call-up.

He is an implicit believer in the Morton principles of melody, variety, and originality in order to achieve the best results. And, above all, what counts with him is sincerity. That is why the Armstrong, Oliver, Morton, Bessie creed is to him the ultimate in jazz, and why he still holds a great admiration for Fats, for those are the musicians whom true artistry is infinitely more important than technical virtuosity.

His band repertoire of 150 or so pieces is composed almost entirely of New Orleans standards, while his solo repertoire consists mainly of Jelly Roll’s blues and stomps, Joplin rags, and a few opf his own compositions, the latter showing that Jelly’s maxim of originality has not fallen on stony ground. His greatest achievement to date? When he played Shreveport Stomp in an otherwise strictly classical competition, and missed first place by only one mark."

Later career[edit]

Discography[edit]

  • Six for Two, 1979, on the Jeton label
  • Professor Foxley's Sporting House Music, 1978, on the Jeton label

References[edit]