Ray Obiedo
United States
Solo Artist
Already as a child growing up in the East Bay, Obiedo recognized his own profoundly soulful musical connection to the Northern California region and its eclectic blend of exotic multi-ethnic rhythms. Small wonder indeed, many years and successful albums later. Ray has steadily emerged as one the most originally expressive and exciting contemporary jazz talents of the decade with a delightfully distinct Bay Area flavor thoroughly marinating his personal jazz signature and nationwide festival performances.

“Among my favorite childhood memories,” Obiedo recalls while relaxing at his selfowned Werewolf Recording Studios in the Oakland Hills, were those numerous trips across the bay to places like the Fillmore Auditorium, Winterland Auditorium, and Golden Gate Park to hear some of the greatest rock bands around. Everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead to the great Isaac Hayes and Sly Stone. It was exciting, inspirational and vibrantly alive. For musicians interested in exploring and creating new sounds, it was absolutely the place to be.”

Although Obiedo didn’t begin seriously studying guitar until his last year in high school, the deep jazz influences of artist like Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, and Antonio Carlos Jobin had already been intricately woven into his musical soul. Even the raw soul of the great James Brown became an indelible component of Obiedo’s musical signature. As Obiedo became totally focused on mastering his instrument and learning the craft of songwriting throughout the 70’s and 80’s, brightly promising career as a professional jazz artist began taking form. His reputation for musical excellence and creative performance was quickly becoming acknowledged and respected throughout his beloved Bay Area music community. Obiedo was soon performing with many of the jazz community’s most celebrated stars including legendary jazz organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith, trombonist Julian Priester, Azteca featuring Pete & Sheila Escovedo, Fourplays’ Harvey Mason. A world tour in 1978-79 with jazz superstar Herbie Hancock is still one of Ray‘s most treasured musical memories.

Ray found time in between his stints as side man to lead such popular local bands as the fusion ensemble Kick (featuring drummer Sheila E and longtime Sonny Rollins pianistMark Soskin) and the funk-rock group Rhythmus 21 which showcased many of the Bay Area’s leading singers. As a session player, Ray’s guitar work has been nicely presented on albums by artists as diverse as Lou Rawls, George Duke, Brenda Russell, Herbie Hancock, Sheila E & the E Train, Freda Payne, The Whispers, The Braxton Bros, The Delfonics as well as solo albums by jazz trumpeter Eddie Henderson, former Yellowjackets’ saxophonist Marc Russo and Meters drummer Zigaboo Modeliste. It was also Obiedo’s memorable guitar solo that so sweetly highlighted sax star Grover Washington Jr’s most recent hit cover of the classic single “Soulful Strut”. Eventually launching his own solo recording career on the Windham Hill Jazz label, Obiedo recorded and released no less than five contemporary jazz albums over the following few years to steadily increasing levels of critical praise and commercial success.

Beginning with his debut C D “Perfect Crime”, through “Iguana”, “Sticks & Stones”, “Zulaya” and “Sweet Summer
Days”, Obiedo has consistently remained loyal to his rhythm and blues roots while also sharpening his Afro-funk instincts and highlighting his natural flair for utterly infectious pop and Latin / Brasilian grooves. As a result, he has both discovered and cultivated a fiercely devoted international following. Typical of Obiedo’s album successes was his “Sticks & Stones” C D which peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart and remained in the top 25 for more than 10 weeks. It also scored as high as No. 5 on the Radio & Records N A C chart and the Gavin Report adult alternative chart in addition to placing in the Top 20 on the GavinReport.

Currently appearing with Obiedo on his latest release ”Modern World” are a number of all-star jazz luminaries including Yellowjackets’ saxophonist Bob Mintzer, steel pan master Andy Narell, and Santana percussionist Karl Perazzo. Joining Ray in the only non-original cut, Henry Mancini’s “Slow Hot Wind”, is undoubtedly one the most respected musicians in the world, harmonica great Jean “Toots“ Thielemans.

Like one of his idols Henry Mancini, Obiedo’s music has found it’s way to the silver screen. Ray has contributed source music to major motion pictures “Internal Affairs” starring Richard Gere and “A Shock to the System” starring Michael Caine. Ray also collaborated with singer/songwriter Teresa Trull for the soundtrack to Nicloe Conn’s “Claire of the Moon”. Obiedo further established and solidified his compositional credentials by writing successful songs for other musical performers, Sheila E, The Pete Escovedo Orquestra, The Whispers, Linda Tillery, Gwen Mc Crae, guitarist Bruce Forman, Tower of Power, Andy Narell, saxophonist Marion Meadows, master funk drummer David Garibaldi, and percussionist Bill Summers. In recent years, Ray has concentrated heavily on his production skills. In addition to producing his own album projects, he has produced a variety of independently released CD’s. Obiedo co-produced guitarist Joyce Cooling’s 1997’s highly successful release “Playing it Cool” for Heads Up Records and keyboardist Tom Grant’s 1999’s “Tune It In” for Windhill Jazz Records.
Recent tours as a sideman have included a U.S. run with The Pee Wee Ellis / Fred Wesley Group and a 2001 Japan tour with Sheila E & the E Train, besides multiple tours to Europe with rad. Ray Obiedo is a highly energized and hypnotically rhythmic soundscape revealing all the passion, flavor, color, and style of the Northern California region which conceived, nourished and inspired the musical soul of this fascinating and prolific jazz artist.
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