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Ray Crawford

Jazz Guitarists with Ahmad Jamal, Gil Evans, Jimmy Smith

Guitarist Ray Crawford, born in Pittsburgh in 1924, began his career playing tenor sax and clarinet. While living in Pittsburgh, he started a group with Art Blakey. He performed with Fletcher Henderson from 1941 to 1943. Struck by tuberculous he was forced to give up woodwinds. He switched to guitar and became a key member of Ahmad Jamal's early trios from 1949 through 1955. With Jamal he was noted for his percussive bongo-like guitar sound that was adopted by Herb Ellis. After his stint with Jamal, Crawford recorded with Gil Evans in 1959 and 1960. Settling in LA in the 60's he drove around in a converted ice cream truck and became an avid tennis player. From 1958 through the '80's Crawford recorded and toured with Jimmy Smith. During his career he also recorded with Tom Waits, Lou Rawls, Curtis Amy, Richard 'Groove Holmes, Ray Charles and more. Crawford also had several solo releases including: Smooth Groove (1961) and Doubletimes (2003). He died on Dec. 30, 1997 in Pittsburgh.