Ray Draper / Ray Draper Quintet

The Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John Coltrane

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Ray Draper was only 17 when he led this date (all four of his sessions as a leader were made before he turned 20) and was brave (or foolhardy) enough to team up with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane (who was 14 years older and already a major name) in a quintet also including pianist Gil Coggins, bassist Spanky DeBrest, and drummer Larry Ritchie. Draper had ambitious dreams of making the tuba a major jazz solo instrument; the tuba/tenor front line is an unusual and generally successful sound, although Draper's solos -- on three of his originals: Sonny Rollins' "Paul's Pal," the show tune "Under Paris Skies," and a tuba feature without Coltrane, "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" -- are clearly not on the same level as those of Coltrane or Coggin. One does admire Draper's courage, and it is a pity that he hardly recorded at all after 1960, because he showed strong potential.

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