Guitarist Ray Russell. Born : April 04, 1947 in Islington, North London, England.
Fame means nothing.
Real musicians know the only true accolade is the admiration of one’s peers.
Ray Russell is a star in the eyes of musicians across the world.
A professional guitarist at the age of 16 with John Barry, Ray recorded his first solo album, Turn Circle, at the age of 21.
For over four decades, Gill Evans, Tina Turner, Van Morrison, Art Garfunkel, Dionne Warwick, Bryan Ferry, Jack Bruce, Cat Stevens, Phil Collins, Robert Plant, Mark Isham, Georgie Fame, Heaven 17, Frankie Miller are but a few of the artists and producers who have known that Ray Russell would add something special to their work. A consummate professional as guitarist, composer and producer, Ray has an extraordinary capacity for both virtuosity and versatility.
More than just a great session player, Ray has been a collaborator, front man, band member, arranger, composer and friend to many of the world’s most influential musicians, bridging the chasms between different musical genres with ease.
As a guitarist, Ray manages to draw every conceivable style from his instrument – blues, jazz, rock, fusion, new age and combinations of them all. He is equally as comfortable playing acoustic and electric guitars as he is with guitar synthesisers.
From “Plain Jane”, a period drama to the ITV flagship detective series “A Touch of Frost”; to “The Jump”, “Dangerous Lady”, “Hard Copy”, “Love Again” and “Alleyn Mysteries”, many of televisions best loved shows are uplifted by Ray’s music. Awards include – ASCAP award for most played music on American Television,
Two Royal Television Society awards for best series, theme tune and use of music to picture. MIP award for Most original theme tune. In 2007, Ray became a visiting Professor of music at Leeds University.
What do you remember about your first guitar?
I remember at that time, the dream of buying a Fender or Gibson was totally out of the question. My folks bought me an acoustic and then I had a Burns Tri Sonic which I still have.
What's the main difference between your last and your first recording, in terms of experience?
Probably the fact that when I first recorded, we were on four track and many early decisions had to be made. There were always other musicians in the studio. Now most sessions are sent on e mail and you overdub to them at home.
What do you recall about your guitar learning process?
My influences really come from working with fantastic players. It taught me that it's not the instrument but what you choose to play through it.
I did have a fantastic guitar teacher when I was starting out. A Mr. Bergstrum. He showed my a lot about basic guitar technique. A lot of which I still use today.
Wich work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?
I would say that when ever you are working on your own album and you are surrounded by great players, the sound of surprise is the Nirvana of the moment. The ideas you have immediately become extended and they enter your mind set. They paint with long brushes!
Where are your secret roots?
Secret roots. I believe in the Sonic signature. Gil Evans used to say, everyone has a cry, without it, only notes come out of the instrument. He was a big influence on me. A spiritual Father figure. We were both influenced by mythology and loved the the vale of the white horse at Pusey in England. In the early days I was influenced by Carl Jung and his route to Unity. Lots of great European film makers like Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. I felt playing in the early days was like being a surrealist. But there are many modes of playing because very song has a different meaning, should be so you have to give the nature of the song it's full value..
What is the difference for you between play alone or in a group? What do you prefer?
I prefer to play in a group but there is a merit to sitting with an acoustic guitar pushing notes into the night.
What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?
Always lock the dressing room door. Ignore ignorance, the click can be your friend, always try to escape from the six string cage.
Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music?
John Coltrane Quartet. Because the tin doesn't do what it says.
What quality do you empathize with most in another musician?
The cerebral connection that only creative people seem to have.
Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money? What were other early records you bought?
The first record I bought was eight years old. It was Trambone by the Crew Cats. I bought some Elvis, some Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith then Kind of blue came! The last record was the Complete Columbia Miles/Coltrane collection. I do have other records that were given me
What's your fetish device in the sound chain?
Fetish device! Well I can't live without a Lazy J Gain pedal and I have to have a carbon copy delay. I have other pedals but on a desert island I would have those two, a Strat and a Bognor amp.
What gear did you use in your last works?
Lazy J gain pedal, Carbon Copy delay, Providence anadime chorus, slow pedal by Mooer, Ditto 2 pedal and Boss looper. Tuner, alter ego.
What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?
Who knows! I really want to do some gigs in Japan! I'm working on some new tracks which
I can't really put into a description. I would like to call it Songs from the six string cage but a few more months will tell.
Now, More Than Ever, Abstract Logix 2013