Contemporary jazz composer and guitarist Obiedo has had an eclectic musical background during his youth spent in the San Francisco Bay Area. The sounds of Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Henry Mancini and the popular sounds of Motown Records influenced his early musical persona. Probably the greatest influence on his embryonic career, however, was the James Brown revue, whose funky, percussive guitar sounds was the platform on which Obiedo built his technique. He joined organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith on a U S tour in 1974, then ECM Records trombonist Julian Priester on his first European outing in 1977. A world tour in 1978-79 with jazz superstar Herbie Hancock is still one Ray’s most treasured musical memories.
Ray also started his long association with the great Pete Escovedo which continues today. His own funk/fusion band, Kick, included a young Sheila Escovedo on drums and Sonny Rollins long time associate Mark Soskin on keyboards. In the mid 80s his reputation grew as one of California’s finest exponents of jazz, pop and fusion. His other outlet during this time was the pop-rock vehicle Rhythmus 21, wherein he worked with other prominent session musicians from the Bay Area. His own session experience is considerable, having partnered artists including Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Lou Rawls, Grover Washington Jr., Bill Summers, Brenda Russell,The Whispers and most currently Bob Mintzer’s Big Band.
Obiedo’s solo compositions also attracted acclaim, and saw interpretations from Tower of Power, Sheila E, Marion Meadows, steel pan great Andy Narell, jazz guitarist Bruce Forman and The Pete Escovedo Orchestra. Parts of his work have appeared on film soundtracks, most notably Michael Caine’s “A Shock To The System” and Richard Gere’s “Internal Affairs”. Such notoriety co-existed with Obiedo’s rising status as a solo artist, recording a clutch of 90s albums for Windham Hill Jazz while leading The Ray Obiedo Group on club dates and concerts. Obiedo made his solo debut with 1989’s Perfect Crime, followed two years later by Iguana; with 1993’s Sticks and Stones, he reached the Top Ten on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz charts. After 1995’s African-influenced Zulaya, he resurfaced two years later with Sweet Summer Days. 1999 saw the release of The Modern World, a hybrid of R&B, pop, and Latin jazz.
Never has contemporary jazz guitarist Ray Obiedo’s genuine lifelong affection for the San Francisco Bay Area’s unique musical personality been more clearly evident or remarkably celebrated than in his newest CD “Latin Jazz Project Vol 1 “, released nationwide on the Rhythmus Records label.