Ray Reach

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Ray Reach
Reach (right) with Branford Marsalis
Reach (right) with Branford Marsalis
Background information
Birth nameRaymond Everett Reach, Jr.
Born (1948-08-03) August 3, 1948 (age 74)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
GenresJazz, classical, pop, R & B, gospel, contemporary Christian, country
Instrument(s)Keyboards, guitar, vocals
Years active1964–present

Raymond Everett Reach, Jr. (born August 3, 1948) is an American pianist, vocalist, guitarist, composer, arranger, music producer, and educator, named by AL.com as one of "30 Alabamians who changed jazz history." He serves as President and CEO of Ray Reach Music and Magic City Music Productions.[1]

Reach has performed and recorded in various genres, including pop, R&B, Motown/soul, gospel, rock, classic rock, country (contemporary and traditional), contemporary Christian, classical, and jazz music, but is perhaps best known for his work in jazz, combining jazz piano stylings with Sinatra-style vocals.[2] He resides in Birmingham, Alabama.


Reach is a member of several active performing and recording groups, including the Magic City Jazz Orchestra (of which he is the founding director), the Ray Reach Orchestra, the Night Flight Big Band,[3] and Cleveland Eaton and the Alabama Allstars.[4] He leads his own group, Ray Reach and Friends,[5] and is a former member of the SuperJazz Big Band.[6]

Reach has been a singer all his life and has been an active choral conductor for more than 35 years. His first public performance was at age four, singing a spiritual song at his home church, Minor United Methodist near Birmingham. His love for choral music began at Dixie Junior High School, where he sang in the choir under Tom Pinion, and later at Minor High School under John Fowler. He began formal voice lessons at age 15 with Andrew Gainey at Birmingham-Southern College and later entered Birmingham-Southern as a voice major, planning to pursue a career as a professional singer. To this day, Ray refers to his singing, among the many musical skills he possesses, as the "best thing he does musically."[1]

During his college undergraduate years, Ray began his choral directing career at Village Falls United Methodist Church. Following this, he was a paid singer at Fairview United Methodist Church, then later was choir director at Norwood United Methodist Church. Subsequently, he sang at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham[7] (under Sam Owens and later under Hugh Thomas) and was baritone soloist and choir singer at Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham[8] under choirmaster and organist Joseph Schreiber.[9] He also sang with the Birmingham Civic Opera[10] and, while at Birmingham-Southern, sang lead roles in operas such as The Telephone, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Barber of Seville, and The Marriage of Figaro.

In 1991 he returned to Minor High School as the choral director.

As a composer, he has written and arranged five Broadway-style musicals for Birmingham Children's Theatre: Rumplestiltskin, The Perfect Prince, The Bravo Bus, Backstage Baby, and Tuxedo Junction.[11][12]

In January 2008, Reach performed as guest artist with the Howard Paul Trio[13] at the Jazz Corner[14] on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, a venue he returned to with his own trio on October 3 and 4.[15]

On March 20, 2008, at the invitation of Chuck Leishman, publisher of The Birmingham Weekly,[16] Reach directed the house band at the 2008 Birmingham Area Music Awards.[17] From July 20–26, 2008, he performed at the W. C. Handy Music Festival.[18] On August 21, 2008, he was featured on the "Tapestry" radio show, hosted by Greg Bass on WBHM Radio 90.3 FM in Birmingham, Alabama.[19] On September 27, 2008, The Ray Reach Quartet, featuring saxophonist Gary Wheat, drummer Steve Ramos, and Count Basie bassist Cleveland Eaton with guest New York trumpeter Lew Soloff, appeared at the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.[20]

On April 23, 2018, Reach was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Alabama for the possession of child pornography.[21]

Selected discography[edit]

As leader

  • Especially for You (1994) - with Robert Dickson on bass[citation needed], Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame inductee Sonny Harris on drums, and Gary Neil McLean on saxophone and flute.
  • Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas (2005) - with Sonny Harris on drums, Chris Wendle on bass and Gary Wheat on saxophone.

As vocalist, pianist, arranger and co-producer

As producer



  1. ^ a b All About Jazz. "Ray Reach Profile at". Allaboutjazz.com. Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Brown, Angela: "Birmingham Beat – Uncovering the Local Music Scene", Birmingham Magazine, March, 2006, p. 121
  3. ^ "Night Flight Big Band". Bhamwiki.com. January 26, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "Cleveland Eaton and the Alabama All-Stars". Bhamwiki.com. September 21, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  5. ^ "Ray Reach and Friends". Bhamwiki.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "SuperJazz Big Band". Bhamwiki.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  7. ^ "First United Methodist Church of Birmingham". Bhamwiki.com. March 30, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  8. ^ "Independent Presbyterian Church". Bhamwiki.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  9. ^ "Joseph Schreiber". Bhamwiki.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  10. ^ "Birmingham Civic Opera". Bhamwiki.com. December 8, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  11. ^ "Birmingham Children's Theatre". Bct123.org. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  12. ^ "''Rumplestiltskin''". Bct123.org. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  13. ^ Howard Paul Trio
  14. ^ "Jazz Corner". Jazz Corner. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  15. ^ "Ray Reach at The Jazz Corner". Thejazzcorner.com. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  16. ^ Davis, Christopher. "The Birmingham Weekly". Bhamweekly.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  17. ^ "Birmingham Area Music Awards". Bhamwiki.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  18. ^ "Rick Bell profile at". Bhamwiki.com. September 30, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  19. ^ "Interview with Ray Reach on "Tapestry" on WBHM Radio, Birmingham, AL". Wbhm.org. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  20. ^ "Taste of Fourth Avenue Jazz Festival". Justataste.org. September 24, 2011. Archived from the original on 2010-08-24. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  21. ^ Robinson, Carol. "Tip led to 4-count child porn indictment against well-known Birmingham jazz musician". al.com. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  22. ^ "Glen Duncan profile at". Countrymusic.about.com. February 24, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  23. ^ "Uncle Bud". Rockgrass.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  24. ^ All About Jazz (June 9, 2010). "Magic City Jazz Orchestra". Allaboutjazz.com. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2011.


External links[edit]