Ray Charles, born Ray Charles Robinson, was undoubtedly one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time and is so important to musicians or fans that know and love jazz. An American musician born in Georgia on September 23, 1930, Ray Charles grew up to be one of the most acclaimed piano players ever to exist. He combined soul music with jazz in often-brilliant ways, integrating blues, country, gospel and even R&B into his later singles. He is known among his fans and to music history for the songs “Georgia On My Mind”, “Hit the Road Jack”, “Unchain My Heart’, and more. He is called “The Genius” or “The High Priest of Soul”. Many people know that Ray not only sang and played music, but composed and wrote songs.

Just want to take this time to say than you to the people who make this blog possible. Sell My House Fast in Portland, Oregon. They are huge fans of ours and help support proceeds towards our concerts.

As a child, Ray Charles suffered from glaucoma and began to go blind around age four or five. He eventually became completely blind from glaucoma by the age of seven. He was the son of Bailey Robinson and Aretha Robinson. His mother was a sharecropper and his father Bailey was a mechanic, handy man, and railroad repairman. The Robinson family moved from Albany, Georgia to Greenville, Florida, his mother’s hometown. He had little contact with his father in his childhood and was raised primarily by Aretha and Mary Jane, his father’s first wife. His mother was a Christian and they often would attend services at the New Shiloh Baptist Church.

At an early age, Ray had a way with mechanics and became interested in music at age 3. Ray was at the Mr. Wylie Pitman’s Red Wing Cafe, and Pitman played the piano and eventually taught Ray the piano as well. Ray would frequent the cafe frequently and even lived there for a short time. Pitman would help care for Ray’s younger brother George as well, but George unfortunately drowned in his mother’s laundry tub when he was four and Ray was five.

Ray later would attend the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind from 1937 to 1945 at St. Augustine, where he developed his musical skills, learned to play classical music, and to read sheet music using braille.

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This past Summer I went on a jazz tour around the U.S. with a jazz band by the name of Jerry and The Black Strings. They are a small time band nothing too big, but they truly are masters of the music and a fun group of people to be around. Me, Jerry and the rest of the gang know each other from back in the day when we use to do small gigs around San Francisco.

We would be on tour for a month going to small venues in San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, Denver, CO, Grand Junction, CO, Fort Collins, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, and many other cities. I would say my favorite concerts were in the big cities we visited, but Grand Junction, which was the first small town we played in on our tour, was sure nice to relax in. Playing in big cities you always have the big crowd and lots of commotion going on. Not that I get stage fright, I stopped getting stage fright a long time ago. It’s just nice to play somewhere with a small mellow crowd. You can say its quite humbling. The town of Grand Junction was somewhat of a desert, but still fun and beautiful in its own way.

Did I mention I have a nephew by the name of Benjamin; he goes to school in Grand Junction. He’s a junior studying business management at Colorado Mesa University. He’s my eldest brother Dave’s son, I have always been proud of Benjamin for being a straight A student and pursuing a degree in college. I never was an academic kid I was his age. I was too busy doing stupid stuff and focusing on music. Not that I’m ashamed of what I’ve done, I am satisfied with my life. It’s just nice to see those on a good successful path.

Sunny Grand Junction

Benjamin works at an auto window tinting shop called, Window Tinting Grand Junction. He started working there part time, after his sophomore year of college to help pay the food and rent bills. After our first night in Grand Junction I visited Benjamin at the window tinting shop. Which was actually a pretty nice professional spot his boss has there. I’ve been to a window tinting shop before and usually they’re nothing too special, but this place was nice. It had a big waiting area with comfortable chars and a big TV. Their garage was massive, probably could fit maybe eight cars. They were working on a 67 Camaro and 2006 Ford GT when I walked in. So that tells you people around town definitely trust them with their expensive cars. Good thing Benjamin was able to land the sweet job; I guess those long summers of helping his father tint their own cars back home, finally paid off. I had a good time in Grand Junction; it was a nice mellow small town. It was nice to have visited with Benjamin and see that he is doing great.

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Miles Davis

This post will be dedicated to one the most influential jazz players of his time, Miles Davis. At the age of 18 he left for New York to make a name for himself in the jazz world. Through out his career he was known as a pioneer, who brought about modern jazz. Winning a total of nine Grammy’s, Miles Davis passed away of repertory distress in Santa Monica, California on September 28, 1991 at the age of 65.

His Early Life-

Miles Davis was born on May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois, to a successful dental surgeon and music teacher. His father gave him his first trumpet at the age of 13. He took private lessons from one of his fathers close friends Elwood Buchanan, who was a director for a music school. Davis quickly learned that he had a knack for playing the trumpet. Buchanan taught Davis to play the trumpet with out vibrato, which went against customary playing styles of common trumpeters like Louis Armstrong. This would come to influence Davis’s career and help him develop his own unique playing style.

When Davis was in high school he played professionally. At the age of 18 he left Illinois for New York to begin his real career. He soon enrolled into Julliard School, at the time it was known as the Institute of Musical Art.

While attending Julliard, Davis met Charles Parker; the two formed a jazz band that would play late nights at Harlem nightclubs. Davis would meet numerous musicians through out his gigs and would eventually form the basis for bebop, a fast, improvisational style of jazz that defined a modern jazz.

Career Beginnings-


In 1945 Davis dropped out of Julliard to become a full time jazz musician. At the time he was a part of the Charlie Parker Quintet and Davis had created his first recording as a bandleader in 1946. From 1945 to 1948, Davis and Parker recorded unceasingly. During this time Davis worked on perfecting his improvisational style.

In 1954 Davis would perform “Round Midnight” at the Newport Jazz Festival, where he would land a recording contract with Columbia Records. He would go on to create a permanent band with famous jazz players John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, and Red Garland.

Davis and his sextet recorded numerous albums though out the 1950’s, including PorgyBess, andKind of Blue. His final album of that decade, Kind of Blue, was released in 1959. Which is personally one of my favorite jazz albums and considered on of the best jazz albums of all time. Selling more than two million copies it was awarded for being the largest sold jazz album.

Success continued to follow Davis through out the 1960s. His band changed for the better over time, due to change in style and new band members. Many of his band members went on to build successful careers them selves, during the jazz-fusion era. These included Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Billy Cobham, and Joe Zawinul.

22 fusion

The development of the jazz-fusion was said to be heavily influenced by rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, showing the “fusion” of jazz and rock. The album Bitches Brew, recorded right after the Wood Stock Music Festival in 1969, was known for bringing about the jazz-fusion. Although many of Davis’s old fans didn’t really appreciate the album, Bitches Brew, quickly became a best selling album. Landing him on the front cover of Rolling Stones magazine becoming the first ever-jazz player to become so noticed.

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Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, or “Satchmo” as he was commonly known, was an American jazz musician popular in the early to mid 1900s. Born in 1907, he had a hugely successful jazz career, transforming the genre from its earliest regional roots into a true, distinguished art form in its own right. Armstrong could sing and play trumpet, making him one of the most talented musicians in jazz. For those of you who are big fans of Armstrong, did you know he has a museum in New York? www.louisarmstronghouse.org

Birth and Roots

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, where he spent most of his youth in poverty. He played the cornet at first, having followed the city’s brass band events and listening to other musicians frequently. He got his start following the likes of Joe Oliver, Bunk Johnson, and Buddy Petit. Armstrong talked about his time aboard the Fate Marable, a major riverboat in New Orleans, as “university” because he got to play with a number of different jazz arrangements.


Louis Armstrong went to Chicago in 1922, where he started playing with Joe Oliver in the Creole Jazz Band. this was one of the major jazz bands in Chicago at the time, and Armstrong started recording during this period. He eventually moved up to New York City to play with Fletcher Henderson, switching to trumpet. He made a number of important contacts such as Clarence Williams, and started accompanying blues singers on the trumpet at this point. He also started recording as his own name around this time, finally moving to Los Angeles in 1930. In the next 30 years, he would play more than 300 gigs per year.


In 1950, Louis Armstrong eventually went back to Dixieland as his main style of influence. At this point he started playing with Jack Teagarden, Arvell Shaw, and Barney Bigard, among others. He had a very busy schedule touring right up until the year before his death. His health ultimately failed in 1971, when he died of a heart attack.


Louis Armstrong recorded many important songs in his career, such as La Vie En Rose, Stardust, and What a Wonderful World. He was known for his major influence on jazz as a whole, not just for his unique vocals, but also for his spectacular trumpet playing and rich, dynamic sound. He was a charismatic musician and trumpeter, and clearly loved what he did.

One of the best jazz players

Armstrong came to true prominence in the 20th century, a time in American history when racism was highly prevalent. He was one of the first African American jazz musicians to be well liked among other African American members of the public and white segments of society. He had a very difficult childhood, but found comfort through music, which eventually brought him out of his tough roots and allowed him to earn a living full-time.

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