b. Roger Ramirez, 15 September 1913, Puerto Rico, d. 11 January 1994, New York City, New York, USA. Raised in New York City, Ramirez displayed a prodigious talent as a pianist and at the age of 13 became a member of the American Federation of Musicians. During the mid- and late 30s he worked with various artists, including Monette Moore, the Spirits Of Rhythm, Putney Dandridge, Stew Pletcher and Willie Bryant. He recorded with Dandridge and Bryant in 1936. Mostly working in the New York area, he occasionally led small groups in the early 40s, but was also with Ella Fitzgerald in 1940, in the band she took over after the death of Chick Webb. He next played in bands led by Frankie Newton and Ike Quebec, appearing with the latter on some early Blue Note records. In the mid-40s he was with John Kirby, playing and recording with his re-formed sextet.
Ramirez also recorded under his own name in 1946, leading a trio with guitarist Jimmy Shirley and bass player Al Hall. In 1944, Billie Holiday recorded Ramirez’s composition, ‘Lover Man’, a song that subsequently became a jazz standard. In the late 40s and early 50s he continued to play in and around New York, and towards the end of this period began to play organ. In the 60s he worked with T-Bone Walker, and the following decade was with the Harlem Blues And Jazz Band. He continued to make appearances with this group into the early 80s. A blues-orientated pianist and organist, Ramirez is perhaps less well known than his skills warrant. Although he visited Europe in 1937 and toured with the Harlem Blues And Jazz band, his decision to spend much of his career in a small geographical area has meant that his international reputation rests largely upon numerous recordings of his most famous composition.