Ray Crawford was born on February 7, 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During the war years from 1941-1943 he played tenor saxophone and clarinet with Fletcher Henderson but tuberculosis forced him to give them up.
Switching to guitar he became an important part of Ahmad Jamal’s early groups from 1949 to 1955. Ray’s ability to make his guitar sound like bongos by hitting it was soon adopted by Herb Ellis. He went on to record with Gil Evans from 1959 to 1960, then played off and on with Jimmy Smith from 1958 into the Eighties.
In the Sixties he settled in Los Angeles, California. He led fairly obscure records for Candid in 1961 that were not released until the 1980s, and also recorded for Dobre and United National record labels in the Seventies. Guitarist Ray Crawford, who played mainly in the hard bop and soul jazz genres, passed away on December 30, 1997 in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
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