Once described as one of the London jazz scene’s best-kept secrets, Ray Carless is a tenor, soprano, saxophonist who has been making nice groovy and melodic music with the great and the good for about four decades.
He was part of the original ‘Brit Funk’ Movement, a founding member of London’s best jazz funk outfit Incognito. He also played with most of the other bands on the Brit Funk scene like Hi-Tension, Central Line, Lynx and Light of The World.
Ray scored a chart hit with his single Tarantula Walk before moving on to become a founding member of the Jazz Warriors, the all black Big Band that launched the careers of Courtney Pine (OBE), Gary Crosby (MBE) of Jazz Jamaica, Roland Sutherland, Jason Yarde, Steve Williamson, Cleveland Watkiss, Julian Joseph and Orphy Robinson among others.
He’s made creative contributions and worked with local and International artists like Elvin Jones, Hugh Masakela, Billy Ocean, Loose Ends, ABC, Five Star, Tippa Irie, Will Downing, Jocelyn Brown, Skatalites, Big Youth, Bob Andy, Luciano, the late n greats John Holt, Alton Ellis, Gregory Isaacs, Jean Adebambo, Louisa Marks, and most recently Grammy smasher Adele (recently No.1in 16 European countries).
Other currently existing artists include Black Roots, Beres Hammond, The Heptones, Aswad, Black Slate, Beggar & Co, Hi-Tension, Cymande, Jazz Jamaica, Jazz warriors, The Skatallites, Delroy Pinnock, Lloyd Brown, Michael Gordon, Patrick Augustus’ Elements Band, Cleveland Watkiss, Janet Kay, Caroll Thompson, Beverley Skeet, Alan Weekes, Ska Cubano, The Heliocentrics, Mica Paris, Jennifer Phillips, Immani, Janet Kay, Chris Tummings & Victor Romero Evans, Heather Haywood, Joy Rose, Ava Golding, The Engine Room Collective, Rico Rodriguez, Skatallites trombonist Vin Gordon, Shireen Francis, Siemy Di, Vibesman Orphy Robinson and Afrikan Revolution.
Ray admits that he’s no longer performing on the cutting edge of the jazz scene and he’s much happier now without the competitive pressure of being locked into one specific genre. “These days I need lots of variety in my music and I know that I will always retain my strong jazzy flavour. I love my jazz but I’m happiest when I’m able to express myself utilizing the various African Caribbean flavours that I’ve grown up with”.
Over recent years Ray has invested and redirected a good portion of his creative energy into events and artist promotion.
He’s established the popular Club Skaaville promotional brand that he utilises to undertake regular staging of live music events in conjunction with Ras Asheber and Roots Renaissance.
Ray recognises that it is crucial for professional musicians to ‘put something back’ in order to sustain London’s great live music legacy for the benefit of the next generation of musicians.
Ray has played on many recordings and recorded albums under his own name as well as the pseudonym’s ‘Ray Anthony and ‘Ray Carley’.