BIG BLACK

African Fusion • United States
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Real Name: Danny Ray

Percussionist from Savannah Georgia, born on the 24th of February, 1937. Big Black was William "Fish" Ray's younger brother who was a Vauderville performer. He started playing percussion in Miami in the 50's and performed with various salsa and calypso bands until he moved to New York in the 60's. He got connected with various Bebop artists and bands there and soon was a regular percussionist for Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Randy Weston. He was dubbed "The king of Congas" and is a highly regarded institute of the african culture in Harlem. Over the years he has worked with Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, B.B. King, Hugh Masekela, Harvey Mandel and Thelonious Monk to name a few.

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Danny Ray has gotten far more ink for his colorful name than for his importance as a fine percussionist and one of the '60s better practitioners of Afro-Cuban rhythms within
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BIG BLACK Message To Our Ancestors album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Message To Our Ancestors
African Fusion 1967
BIG BLACK Lion Walk album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Lion Walk
African Fusion 1968
BIG BLACK Elements Of Now! album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Elements Of Now!
African Fusion 1968
BIG BLACK Diggin' What You're Doin' album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Diggin' What You're Doin'
African Fusion 1971
BIG BLACK Big Black & The Blues album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Black & The Blues
African Fusion 1972
BIG BLACK Ethnic Fusion album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ethnic Fusion
African Fusion 1982

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BIG BLACK Elements Of Now!

Album · 1968 · African Fusion
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js
Big Black is the name for the renowned percussionist who was born under the name Danny Ray. At an early age, Black left his home in Georgia and headed for Florida and the Bahamas so he could learn the conga drum while playing with top musicians in calypso and salsa bands. Returning to the US northeast, Black became a top percussionist in the world of jazz as he performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Sun Ra, Pharoh Sanders, Eric Dolphy and many others. In the late 60s, when the jazz world was at a sort of experimental peak, he put out a couple albums as a leader. “Elements of Now” is one of those albums and it displays Black’s knowledge and expertise in a variety of African derived rhythms that became popular in Cuba, the Bahamas, the US and elsewhere. Black is joined on here by a small horn section, a couple guitarists, a drummer and a bass player, but the star of the show is Big Black and his African Kongo drum.

This album is all bout the rhythm and features several tracks in that RnB flavored Cuban groove known as boogaloo, a style made popular by Mongo Santamaria. In fact, side one closer, “La De Da”, has enough dance potential that it could have been a hit, but that apparently didn’t happen. Other songs on “Elements of Now” venture into calypso, swing boogie and more pronounced African flavors with closing track, “Burundi Pose”, getting into fairly abstract almost avant-garde territory. If there is a missing link between Sun Ra and Mongo, then this album might be it. There are some horn solos, particularly from the two saxophonists, but also occasional rides from the guitarists and the tuba meisters too. The main feature of this album though is the many percussion breakdowns that feature Black and his drum while the others hold steady patterns, including the guitarists who are masters of the Jimmy Nolan style repeating guitar riff. Fans of Pharoh Sanders, Sun Ra and the more experimental side of Afro-Cuban jazz will find a lot to like here.

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