Ray Draper was an excellent tuba soloist, one of the few in the 1950s to utilize the instrument for bop improvisations. After attending the Manhattan School of Music, he played and recorded with Jackie McLean (1956-1957), worked with Donald Byrd, and recorded with John Coltrane (1958). Draper was with Max Roach's band (1958-1959) and worked with Don Cherry in the early '60s. However, from that point on drugs played havoc with his life. He did play later in the 1960s with Horace Tapscott, Archie Shepp, Brother Jack McDuff (recording with him in 1971), and Howard Johnson's group Gravity, but had largely dropped out of music by the time he was killed during a robbery. Draper led sessions during 1957-1960 for Prestige, New Jazz, Jubilee, and Epic .