Former Slayer drummer demonstrating creation process
Artist biography Roy Ayers
Vibraphone-player, singer and entertainer Roy Ayers knows how to play the funk on his warm souding malletKat.
Roy Ayers was during the 1960s one of the most prominent and leading jazz vibraphone players in America. During the 1970s and 80s he came to change his focus and became one of the leading figures in r n'b and jazz/funk. The 1990s has once again brought him into a new direction and he is now regarded being one of the greatest innovators of the acid jazz movement. His music has often been described as being years ahead of it's time.
Roy E. Ayers was born on October 9, 1940 in Los Angeles, CA. He grew up in a musical family were his father played trombone and his mother piano. At the age of five he got his first piano lesson by his mother and by that, a first introduction to the wonderful world of music. He started to play the piano and before young Ayers could spell his name, he was jamming hot bogie-woogie riffs. At the age of five he received a vibes set as a gift from the famous vibes player Lionel Hampton. It would, however, take 12 years, till he was 17, before he started using the instrument on a more serious level. As his interest for the vibraphone grew, he got more and more involved in the west coast's lively jazz-scene. He started playing with artists like Curtis Amy (1962), Jack Wilson (1963-67), Chico Hamilton and Gerald Wilson Orchestra (1965-66). In 1966 bass player Reggie Workman persuaded Roy into a jam with flute player Herbie Mann at the club Lighthouse at Hermosa Beach, CA. The jam session evolved into becoming a steady four year gig with Mann at the Lighthouse. It also brought Ayers into the direct limelight, which attracted him an enormous attention. During this period he also got a wider musical perspective and got interested in other kinds of music forms than the be-bop he grew up with. After contributing on Mann's hit album," Memphis Underground", and after recording three own solo recordings on Atlantic with Mann as producer, Ayers left Mann's group in 1970 and moved to Manhattan, New York. In New York he formed his own group, nowadays a quite famous constellation by the name of Roy Ayers Ubiquity.
With Ubiquity, Ayers recorded several albums for Polydor using legendary musicians such as, Sonny Fortune, Billy Cobham, Omar Hakim and Alphonze Mouzon. From the beginning Ubiquity was more like a R&B-jazz-rock band influenced by artists like piano player Herbie Hancock sextet, and the more electric side of trumpet player Miles Davis. After a while the band lost its jazz influences and instead started to create an own blend of R&b, funk and 70s disco generating in big commercial successes. The greatest successes came with the nowadays classic jazz/disco tune "Running Away" from the 1977 album Lifeline. Another big Ubiquity hit was also the tune, "Everybody loves the sunshine", from 1976. A song that nowadays is a classic on any 70's influenced dance floor across the world.
In the beginning of the 80s, Ayers started a collaboration with the Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, which he had gotten to know on a nine city long tour of Nigeria in 1981. Together with Kuti, Ayers started the record company Uno Melodic Records, which he ran alongside his own band and other recordings. Together with Kuti, Ayers released two albums.
During the 90s, Ayers has split his time between leading his own band, performing live, composing and producing for other artists. Ayers has also, since the end of the 1980s, had a successful collaboration with the highly regarded jazz club Ronnie Scott's in Soho, London, UK. Together with Ubiquity, Ayers has performed on several occasions as the official house band and have also released several live recordings from the club.
When hip-hop and jazz started to emerge in the beginning of the 90s, Ayers was invited as a guest performer on Guru's Jazzmatazz album in 1993. The performance became a big success and resulted in several club gigs in New York, together with Guru and the highly regarded American trumpet player, Donald Byrd. Ayers also participated with Byrd and Guru on the Red Hot organization anti aids project, Cool, in 1995. A project were the greatest in jazz met the new generation of jazz influenced disciples from the hip-hop scene. On top of all this, Ayers also did a guest stunt on the successful salsa/soul album Nu Yorican Soul.
Roy Ayers is still very active as a musician and as a producer and during the summer of 1999 he released his latest album titled, Juice. In December 1998 he toured Scandinavia and visited Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and also Gothenburg, were he performed at the jazz club Nefertiti, on the 9th of December.
2004 saw Roy Ayers playing on the Dutch North Sea Jaz Festvial with drummer Christopher Henry.