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Roy Ayers Biography, History And Music

Born on the 10th day of November 1940 in Los Angeles, California, Roy Ayers is an American composer of the Soul, Funk, and Jazz music. He is also a vibraphonist and a music producer. His career was influenced by his father and mother, who were a trombone player and a piano teacher, respectively. Growing as a musical child, at the age of five he was already thumping out boogie-woogie licks on the laps of his mother at the piano.

Maybe, acid jazz would have just existed even without Roy Ayers, but it would sound different. Hip-hop, acid jazz, deejays, and others incorporate a wide range of music samples created by Ayers into their work, thus making Ayers’ sounds an integral and essential part off the evolving musical forms. He is undoubtedly the godfather of jazz-funk, acid jazz, as well as many other labels that represent his second life as a composer and vibraphonist having rocked the American dance floors in the 1970s. Some of his in the early days included Freaky Deaky, and Everybody Loves the Sunshine.

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The Magical World Of Music

At six, Ayers was taken to the Lionel Hampton concert where his parents introduced him to the vibraphone. Hampton, one of the jazz-funk instrumentalists of all time, then handed Ayers a pair of mallets. This simple gesture sealed a great musical destiny for the youngster. Years later when he met Hampton, he amused him with the story of how he had shaped his future without knowing.

Before the destiny of Ayers became a reality, he spent most of his time experimenting with many other instruments. At nine years old, he learned by himself how to play steel guitar. As a teenager, he alternated between trumpet, drums, and flute. He participated in singing in church choirs, which could still be detected in his vocal style many years later. Ayers got to play his favorite instrument ‘the vibraphone’ at the age of 17, and one year later, vibes became his main instrument.

College Life

He enrolled at the Los Angeles City College after high school, but it did not take long before dropping out to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician. In the early 1960s, Ayers performed with various local performers in the Los Angeles jazz scene, including Chico Hamilton, Jack Wilson, and Teddy Edwards. It was until 1963 that his opportunity to record in the same capacity came through on a project dubbed West Coast Vibes, which was released by the United Artists.

In 1966 at the invitation of the bassist Reggie Workman, Roy Ayers made an appearance with Herbie Mann along with his Quintet at a renowned jazz club in Los Angeles called Lighthouse. Mann immediately made Ayers a permanent group member following his impressive performance and work. Ayers then recorded and toured with Herbie Mann for four consecutive years – this was the time when Mann released his hit LP known as Memphis Underground. Also, during this period, Ayers recorded and produced three Albums.

Music Steps

Through his work with Mann, Ayers earned a significant exposure and eventually decided to go the solo way. He left the Mann group and relocated to New York, where he formed his band known as Ubiquity. However, Ubiquity never had a stable lineup as a famous band. It had a continuously changing roster of musicians at different levels in their careers. Some of the pros in the group included bassist Ron Carter, a saxophonist Sonny Fortune, and young artists destined for success, including Vocalist Dee Dee Bridge alongside many other new talented performers.

Ayer used his band Ubiquity to create a new genre that picked elements from funk, jazz, salsa, soul, and rock among others that he liked, then synthesized them into a striking and appealing mélange. While some jazz enthusiasts criticized Ayers for producing music could be categorized authentically as RnB or jazz, the contemporary listeners received this music with love and passion. The Ubiquity band then got signed under the Polydor label.

The next decade represented an incredibly fruitful period for Ayers as well as the different versions of Ubiquity as the group recorded more than 20 albums for Polydor. Ayers spent the better part of the 1970s building an audience for his new musical genre. His goal and approach were to incorporate anything that he liked and sounded great.

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