His nephew was the singer Sacha Distel.
Ventura played piano in a group called The Collegiate Five from 1924, which recorded under the name Ray Ventura and His Collegians for Columbia Records beginning in 1928. He led the group from 1929 and recorded for Decca Records and other labels through the 1930s, becoming a popular dance ensemble in France in that decade. His sidemen included Philippe Brun, Alix Combelle, and Guy Paquinet.
One of his group's popular songs from 1936 was "Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise," in which the Marquise is told by her servants that everything is fine at home, except for a series of escalating calamities. It is seen as a metaphor for France's obliviousness to the approaching war.
He led a big band in South America from 1942 to 1944 before returning to lead a group in France from 1945 to 1949. During his tour in Brazil during the Second World War he was joined by the French singer Henri Salvador (1917–2008). Two years later in Argentina the French trumpet player Georges Henry joined the group after having left the Lecuona Cuban boys. Georges Henry later worked at the creation of TV Tupi in Brazil.
- Michel Laplace, "Ray Ventura". The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.
- Alan Riding, And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris. Alfred A Knopf, New York: 2010. p26.