Performing Arts

Music Feature: Newly Released: Justin Ray

Music Feature: Newly Released: Justin Ray

A 30-year veteran of the trumpet, Asheville’s Justin Ray joined national recording artist Michael Bublé’s band as a soloist in 2003, and began doing orchestrations for the road band in 2005. In the years since, still touring with the band, he has also begun to study the music of the great Big Band composers/ arrangers/bandleaders. “I decided to start writing music that would incorporate the influence of those masters into my own sound,” Ray says.

On a holiday break from a world tour with Bublé, Ray released his first self-titled Big Band recording with a show at Isis Music Hall in January. “My music is definitely most influenced by the sound of the great Big Bands of the past—Ellington and Basie, most prominently—but it’s not beholden exclusively to the traditions of that genre,” Ray says. “I like to think that I’m guided by their sound, but that I’m still creating music that has a place in the modern day.”

The song “Why?” from the album best exemplifies where he is headed musically, he says. “The drum groove was inspired by the Benny Goodman version of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’,” but lyrically and structurally I think it resembles Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ as much as anything.” He calls his sound “Big Band for the millennium” and expects that the album will captivate a range of listeners. “Fans of jazz, swing and Big Band will find a lot to like,” he says, “but I hope it appeals to a wide variety of music fans.” Although Western North Carolina music was not a direct influence on his sound, he says, “I was most definitely inspired to compose much of it by the many talented musicians that live in the region.”

To purchase a copy of the album and find out about upcoming performances, visit

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