Ray Lopez

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Not to be confused with the Latin singer of the same name, Ray Lopez was one of the earliest cornet players on the New Orleans jazz scene, born prior to 1890 and a sidekick of such important historical…
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Not to be confused with the Latin singer of the same name, Ray Lopez was one of the earliest cornet players on the New Orleans jazz scene, born prior to 1890 and a sidekick of such important historical figures as Papa Jack Laine and Tom Brown. He joined Brown's band in 1912 and by the middle of that decade had assumed the role of manager for that outfit as well, holding forth at infamous Chicago venues such as the Lamb's Cafe. Lopez had an influential role as well in the early days of New Orleans jazz spreading to the much less humid environs of Chicago, leading his own band there after arriving triumphantly as part of the Brown combo.

Lopez also began accompanying performer Blossom Sealey in this period, continuing to work with her until the outset of the Roaring Twenties. Other Chicago affiliations followed, Lopez brandishing his golden horn in Clint Brush's Jazz Babies as well as a fine ensemble helmed by Tommy Rogers. Abe Lyman encouraged Lopez to head west; establishing himself in California, Lopez hopped from the Lyman group to that of Gus Arnheim, an even busier schedule part of the attraction. The calendar included a tour of Europe in the late '20s.

This is not the same musician as the Ramon Lopez who played percussion in the Stan Kenton band in the '50s, however. By this time the cornetist was completely out of the music business. In the late '30s, he joined the list of jazz musicians who quit to become part of the airplane industry. A more interesting affiliation is with musicians who have become involved in important legal cases involving copyright issues. Lopez and one of his musical associates, Alcide Nunez, plotted to steal the authorship of a tune entitled "Livery Stable Blues," originally recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, with whom Nunez had various issues. That group's leader, Nick LaRocca, went to court for the grand sum of $10,000; while this type of trial generally receives only minimal publicity, this particular harangue became a sensational item in the New Orleans papers, especially the fact that nobody won.