Song:Under Paris Skies
Album:The Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John Coltrane
Generally speaking, the tuba is not an instrument that is prominent in jazz. There are a few guys who play it like Howard Johnson. Back in the 50s, Ray Draper was still a teen when he attempted to turn the tuba into a lead instrument. Of course the most interesting thing about these recordings is that John Coltrane plays sax. Unfortunately, Draper's life was riddled by heroin addiction. And then when he got clean, he was an innocent bystander in a robbery murder. He was born Aug. 3, 1940 in New York City and he attended The Manhattan School of Music. Draper was 16 when he signed with Prestige Records. His 1957 debut album Tuba Sounds featured Jackie McLean on alto sax and Mal Waldron on piano. Under Paris Skies is from his second album The Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John Coltrane. Coltrane was under contract to Prestige at the time. Other musicians were Gil Coggins on piano, Spanky DeBrest on bass and Larry Richie on drums. Under Paris Skies was written by French composers Hubert Giraud and Jean Andre Brun for the 1951 film Sous le ciel de Paris. Mitch Miller hired lyricist Kim Gannon to write English lyrics and Miller was the first to record it. It's now considered a pop and jazz standard. The album is available on CD. Draper recorded one more album with Coltrane for Prestige. Draper also recorded three albums with Max Roach. He became addicted to heroin and spent most of the 60s in jail. After his release, Draper tried to create jazz rock fusion with the 1968 album Red Beans and Rice on Epic Records. It had potential but his heroin addiction killed the band. Draper finally got clean in the 70s and was trying for a comeback when he was killed by a gang of teens holding up a bank after he gave them his money. Ray Draper died on Nov. 1, 1982 at age 42. Sadly, Draper never achieved his goals for the tuba. But his recordings with Coltrane are worth checking out. Here's a video for Under Paris Skies by Ray Draper.