Swinging the blues

The Original Famous Rays

The Original Famous Rays are seven highly talented international musicians who love to play jazzy swing and blues! The band is the leading exponent on the East Coast of America of the unique Hackensack Delta Blues. Together regularly at the inspiring Threshold Studios on West 41st St in Manhattan, the band is one of shared musical ambition and the friendship of seven quite different souls.

The band was created a more than five years ago for the love of the music, and their reputation on the East Coast has grown exponentially since then. The 'Hot Sauce Horns' bring a big sound to a fascinating repertoire of old and new tunes, led by wonderful vocal delights from Ricky Ray, who is a real guitar hero!

A tight rhythm section and keyboards complete this exciting and happy band.

Impossible time pressure has meant long term band member and trombonist Jason had to leave. A fine musician and truly nice guy, he is going to be missed by everyone. We are so lucky therefore to be able to announce Kevin Schmidt, who replaces Jason. When we first met we had no idea how experienced this young multi- instrumentalist, writer, and arranger was. He adds superb bass trombone to our sound, and has become a hugely contributive member of our already Hot Sauce Horns.

The Original Famous Rays have also lost one of their founding members. Mike "the bass guy" Cohen and his wife have left the Tri-State for the sun of Florida. Replacing Mike is a tough task as he was a powerhouse in the band, always full of energy and ambition, and of course an excellent bassist and singer. The band is delighted to be able to announce a new 'Ray" has joined the band - Dave Wasserman.

25,243 people have visited our site so far!

Band Members

Richard "Ricky Ray/ Richie Ray" Romaniello - Vocals & Guitar

Richard Ray Romaniello

RRRR is one of the earliest practitioners of the "Hackensack Delta Blues" style. Born in The Bronx, NY on May 10, 1955.

He was introduced to music at an early age. His father Rocco, sang for Carmen Lombardo's Orchestra in the 1940s.

He moved to Bergenfield, NJ in March of 1956 where he resided for the next 18 years. In 1970 he started playing guitar and singing.

He started his first band S.M. Duke in 1971 with Dave Shaw, they performed as a duo for about a year and then brothers Jim & Brian McManus joined the band along with Tom Sherman . The band had some local success but disbanded when Shaw moved to Florida. RRRR moved to The Bay Area in 1973 and met guitar teacher Dean Devinair.

When he returned to NJ in 1974 he continued playing locally. In 1978 he joined The Vetrones and was with them until 1981. In 1981 he attended the Institute of Audio Research in NYC and trained to become an Audio Engineer. In 1983 he met his mentor Malcolm Addey, while working at Fox Studio in NJ (Chief Engineer at the fabled Abbey Road Studios from 1958 - 1968). Addey was guest engineering an album w/ jazz organist Jimmy McGriff for Fantasy Records. He still works with Addey on select projects a few times a year.

In Sept of 1985 RRRR was hired by Caedmon Records / Harper Audio as their in house audio engineer, he worked there for 23 and a half years. During his time @ CR/HA his worked earned him 13 Grammy nominations as engineer and producer in the Spoken Word category. He has also worked on many music recording projects on location and in his modest home studio.

In 2007 he produced & engineered "The Felix Cabrera Band with Jimmy Vivino - "Live at the Turning Point" which garnered 4 star reviews n Down Beat and Big City Rhythm and Blues magazines.

In 2011 he joined Penguin Book's Audiobook division as their in house audio engineer.

Answering an add on CL in 2015 to start a swinging Blues Band he met Michael Cohen, Rafik Cezanne, and Jason Wysocki. Together they would form The Original Famous Rays. The idea behind "The Rays" was to do material that other Blues bands don't play. "We wanted to play the lesser known gems by everybody's favorite artists and to introduce our audiences to material and artists they may not have heard of before. We have a gem or two of our own"!

Rafik “Ray” Cezanne

Rafik Cezanne

Rafik Cezanne is a classically trained, seasoned musician, performing since childhood. Influences include his musical and artistic family comprising of his late father the legendary Leslie Scott (of Porgy and Bess) and his brother Kenneth Kamal Scott. On his mother's side, Rafik is also a distant relation to the artist Paul Cezanne. In addition to others in his family, Rafik is also influenced by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, James Brown, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Karl Denson, Lee Konitz, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Chick Corea, The Beatles, Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson and many many more.

In 1999, Rafik started playing tenor sax with one of the premier blues and soul bands in New York City, the hard-hitting Hard Bargain blues band, whose latest release is More Than You Bargained For (Bassguy Records @2006). Hardbargain was touted by the NY Jazz and Blues Society as a band 'definitely worth watching.' Hardbargain disbanded in 2013. Rafik is currently performing with LeePaul Crisci and the Age-of-Change-Band performing rock and blues standards in and around the city. Rafik is also performing with Michael Cohen and Richard Romaniello in the Famous Rays, a blues/jazz group with the hot-sauce horns.

Rafik is a multi-dimensional musician who also plays alto, soprano saxes and flute and performed with the rock blues diva the amazing Dali Blu (also an HB alumnus).

Rafik studied jazz with the legendary Lee Konitz, Frank Vicari, Ken Simon, Rashied Ali, Cecil Taylor, Sam Obasala Brown and was taught music theory by the great Mr. Lecesse of Sachem High School.

By day, Rafik is an information technologist at a major international law firm and blogger/photographer/videographer whose work and innovative ideas can be found on the internet.

David “Ray” Frawley

David Ray Frawley

Growing up in Westchester, NY, David started playing trumpet in second grade. He studied privately with Israel Kopmar, and has played in various school and community bands/orchestras. As a teenager, David took up guitar and has played it for most of his adult life.

David went to Kent State University and majored in aerospace science. He went on to obtain an MA in creative writing from City College of New York. He currently works as a software developer of trading and related systems.

Keith “Ray” Mulhare

Keith Mulhare

Born and raised in northern NJ, Keith came into his musical awakening with the “British Invasion” rock music that dominated radio in the 1960’s. Starting with The Beatles and Rolling Stones and continuing through the decade with the arrival of more blues derivative bands such as Cream, Keith was drawn to the electric guitar. Guitar became his first instrument. It was curiosity about some of the original writers of this music, with names like Robert Johnson gleaned from liner notes, that turned up a whole new world and discovery of American blues. Blues has remained a life long fascination. Inspired by its particular rhythms and grooves, Keith eventually gravitated to drums as his primary instrument. Formally trained at New York’s prestigious Drummers Collective, he has played with a variety of bands over the years and performed at most of the top blues venues in the NY tri-state area. Style influences come from numerous sources but he has particular admiration for the work of such drumming greats as Steve Gadd, Jim Keltner and George Rains.

A long time devotee of the wide world of blues, Keith hosted a weekly blues radio program for thirteen years at WFDU-FM 89.1 from 2000 to 2013 and served as blues music director for that station. He also was an album reviewer and music critic for the monthly Blues Revue Magazine in the late 90’s and early aughts.

In recent years, a desire to explore the world of rhythm from another perspective as well as a love of swing jazz led Keith to the upright bass. He performs regularly in Manhattan as part of a jazz piano duo and has played on festival stages with big bands as far away as France and Brazil. He has found the greatest inspiration for jazz bass from the works of such legends as Paul Chambers, Sam Jones and Oscar Pettiford.

Keith currently resides in New York City.

Jimmy “Ray” Wilmer

Jimmy Ray Wilmer

Born in the UK, Jim was fascinated by music from the age of two, watching his wonderful father play piano in clubs. Years of classical piano tuition ended as soon as the Beatles hit the world, and his uncle returned from the US to the UK, bringing Jim his first electric guitar and amp.

As a teenager, Jim played self taught guitar in an 18 piece jazz orchestra, and bass guitar in a trio led by his father. He became well known as a bass player in a popular UK covers band, which supported many ‘British Invasion’ groups in concert.

His first wife encouraged him to turn pro at the age of 21 and they worked in Tunisia, where Jim played guitar and keyboards in international bands in Hammamet. After a year, they returned to the UK and Jim worked in bands in London.

With considerable knowledge of music and instruments, Jim took a day job in sales for Rose-Morris in London, ending up a part owner in ‘85. Jim got to advise many famous musicians both live and recorded, and travelled the world.

As his sons were born, he adapted his career, to end up leading the US success of Calrec in audio equipment for television. It was a fateful day at the AES show in San Francisco when he was introduced to Richie Romaniello, a prominent recording engineer, and wonderful guitar player. Their friendship has grown and grown over the years.

The oldest guy in the band, Jim is however married to a young Californian, and is resident just outside Manhattan. He has two sons by his first marriage, one of whom is a great guitarist and lives in Ontario

He was honored to be asked to join the Original Famous Rays.

Kevin “Ray” Schmidt

Kevin Schmidt

Kevin Schmidt is a bass trombonist and composer, formerly based in Minneapolis, MN and now based in New York City. He has composed and performed with a variety of ensembles, including symphony orchestras, jazz combos, chamber brass, symphonic bands, folk groups, electronic ensembles and rock bands.

In Minnesota Kevin collaborated with many inspired musicians and composers, most notably Douglas Ewart, Carei Thomas, Donald Washington and Todd Harper. He has been chosen as a featured performer and composer at The American Composers Forum's Landmark Center New Music Series, The International Trombone Conference and The Minnesota Trombone Workshop. Kevin has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from The McKnight Foundation, The American Composers Forum, The Saint Paul Landmark Center and The Walker Art Center.

He moved to New York City in 1999. Kevin's bands have included Mark Dresser, Liberty Ellman, Drew Gress, Elliot Humberto Kavee, John Hollenbeck, Nathan Hanson and others. He has studied composition with Henry Threadgill. Kevin has performed in many venues in New York City and around the U.S.

In addition to his work as a leader, Kevin has performed behind a wide variety of musicians and entertainers, including Cecil Taylor, Eartha Kitt, Carol King, Harry Belafonte, Cy Coleman, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Tony Randall, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Klein and Alec Baldwin.

As a composer, Kevin draws upon many colors and textures, dividing his ensembles into varied groupings (in addition to the full powered onslaught). Exacting arrangements ease into extended open stretches of all sorts of improvisations. Some improvisations are "free" improvisations - actually spontaneous group compositions which tend towards lyricism rather than harshness. Kevin greatly enjoys harshness, but he usually prefers to compose his own harshness, which has its own pointed beauty.

Based on distinctive, sometimes quirky melodies, Kevin's music is sophisticated in rhythm, harmony and structure and full of deep yet changing emotions. Massive power gives way to delicate nuance. Driving grooves melt and then rise as free-floating melody. Intense colors flavor the entire brew.

Kevin utilizes the full range of the bass trombone, delving into the depths of the tuba range and climbing to the top of the range of the tenor trombone. Kevin's multifaceted technique is considerable, but it is always used in support of his musical ideas and personal musical expression. His horn can be a raging storm, a chortling clown, a profound wizard, a devastating avalanche, a gleeful child, a howl of grief, a shriek of horror or a shriek of joy.

David “Ray” Wasserman

Dave Wasserman

David began his long musical career at the age of 9, when he took up the clarinet in his 5th grade Yonkers, NY elementary school band. After many years playing reed instruments, he switched to playing bass guitar. He plays and enjoys many musical styles, from classical to blues, and everything in-between.

David has performed more than 2000 times since he embarked on his musical career, and expects to play about 2000 more performances, before he hangs up his bass for good.

When David isn’t delighting people with his musical talent, he’s using his considerable business expertise at the City University of New York, where he is Executive Director of Finance and Administrative Operations, overseeing and directing their business and financial services operations.

David is the newest Ray, but all the more welcome in the band.

Upcoming Public Shows

No upcoming shows

Social

Contact Us