Ray Santisi

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Ray Santisi
Birth nameRay Santisi
Born(1933-02-01)1 February 1933
Died28 October 2014(2014-10-28) (aged 81)
Occupation(s)Jazz pianist, composer, arranger, recording artist and educator
Years active1957–2014

Ray Santisi (February 1, 1933 - October 28, 2014) was an American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, recording artist and educator. He played as featured soloist with Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Mel Torme, Irene Kral, Herb Pomeroy and Natalie Cole to name a few. He also performed with Buddy DeFranco, Joe Williams, Gabor Szabo, Milt Jackson, Zoot Sims & Al Cohn, Carole Sloane, Clark Terry and Bob Brookmeyer. He performed with his own ensemble, The Real Thing and in the 1960s performed with the Benny Golson Quartet. He has performed at Carnegie Hall and Boston's Symphony Hall.

Santisi was professor of piano and harmony at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he taught from 1957 until his death in 2014. He won an honors scholarship to Schillinger House. He was awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in composition and performance. He taught at Stan Kenton's summer jazz clinics throughout the US, performing in Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia. He performed at the first Jazz Workshop, the jazz room of Stables nightclub. In 2008 he was nominated to IAJE Jazz Education Hall of Fame.

His students include many notable jazz musicians, including Diana Krall, Makoto Ozone, Joe Zawinul, Keith Jarrett, Jane Ira Bloom, Jan Hammer, Alan Broadbent, Arif Mardin, Gary Burton, John Hicks, Danilo Perez and Hiromi. Fourteen of his students received Grammy awards.

Santisi authored Berklee Jazz Piano (published by Berklee Press in 2009, distributed by Hal Leonard), available at Amazon.com, and his instructional book, Jazz Originals for Piano,

Santisi's trio played the first Sunday of each month for eleven years at Ryles Jazz Club until the month of his death, showcasing standards of Tin Pan Alley and Harlem renaissance.[1][2][3]

Compositions with BMI #

Pendulums,1162959, inspired by the famous "Jitterbug Waltz" of Fats Waller.[4]

Less Talk, 850876

Like Blues, 871895

Little Sue, 883296

Minstrel Eyes, 994378

Moon Mist, 1007633

Mose Knows, 1013249

Perrys Parasol, 1167560

Sam Speaks, 1285483

Sapphire, 1289924

Take Two, 1452520

Theme For John, 1484664

Santisi has recorded on Blue Note Records, Capitol Records, Prestige Records, Sonnet Records, Roulette Records, and United Artists Records labels. He has also recorded on Bethlehem, Transition and Rasan record labels (see Discography below).

Santisi graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1954 and earned his masters from Boston Conservatory in 1956.[5][6]

REVIEWS "The most exciting piano player I've heard since those first sessions with Bill Evans, Marian McPartland and Oscar Peterson". Raleigh, N.C. News and Observer.[7]

“As anyone familiar with the Boston scene knows, there are few things finer than hearing Ray take on an acoustic piano. This night, he decided to put on a clinic. It was a master indulging in the sheer joy of tackling the possibilities (maybe the impossibilities) of the instrument.” Stu Vandermark, CADENCE Magazine


With Boots Mussulli, Max Bennett (b) and Shelly Manne (d)

  • Boston Blow-Up, (Capitol Records, 1955 and reissued 2001 by Toshiba EMI, Japan

With Serge Chaloff (bs), Boots Mussulli (as), Herb Pomeroy (tp), Everett Evans (b) and Jimmy Zitano (d)

With Donald Byrd, Doug Watkins (b) and Jimmy Zitano (d)

With Herb Pomeroy

With Buddy DeFranco (clarinet) and John Chiodini (guitar)

With Whit Brown (b) and Fred Buda (ds/perc)

With Donald Byrd, Doug Watkins, Jimmy Zitano, Joe Gordon, Kenny Burrell, Hank Mobley, Duke Jordan, Horace Silver, Art Taylor and Art Blakey

With Bill Nordstrom (b) and Jimmy Zitano (dr)

With Johnny Sousa, Barry Smith and Gene Roma

With Patricia Adams, Dave Zox, Gary Johnson

With Patricia Adams, Dave Zox, Gary Johnson

With Patricia Adams, Marshall Wood, Bob Moses

With Marshall Wood, Bob Moses


  1. ^ "Ray Santisi". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ Kaplan, Lloyd S.; Petteruti, Robert E. (1991). Who's Who in Rhode Island Jazz, c. 1925-1988. Consortium Pub. ISBN 978-0-940139-26-8. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  3. ^ Down Beat. Maher Publications. 1965. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  4. ^ Zammarchi, Fabrice; Mas, Sylvie (2002). A Life in the Golden Age of Jazz: a biography of Buddy DeFranco. Parkside. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-9617266-6-9. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  5. ^ Small, Mark; Taylor, Andrew; Feist, Jonathan; Berklee College of Music (1 November 1999). Masters of music: conversations with Berklee greats. Berklee Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-634-00642-5. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  6. ^ JazzTimes. JazzTimes, Inc. September 1995. p. 39. ISSN 0272-572X. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Ray Santisi". Aahome.com. Retrieved 1 September 2011.

The Boston Jazz Chronicles, Faces, Places, and Nightlife 1937-1962 by Richard Vacca (c)2012: Santisi, Ray 213-214 Berklee faculty 121-122 early 1960s 225 Jazz Workshop 211 mid 1950's 133, 199 with Herb Pomeroy Orchestra 214, 217

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